The Montreal Canadiens are calling on a familiar face to lead the team back to the playoffs.
The Canadiens announced Tuesday morning that Michel Therrien will be taking over behind the bench for the 2012-13 season.
Therrien leaves his job as a television analyst for RDS to begin his second stint as Canadiens head coach, having broken in to the NHL with Montreal on Nov. 20, 2000 as a replacement for Alain Vigneault.
He held the job for parts of three seasons, compiling a regular season record of 77-77-36 before being fired 46 games into the 2002-03 season.
In his lone full season behind the Canadiens bench, the team finished the regular season with 87 points, a 17-point improvement from Therrien’s first year. Powered by a Hart and Vezina Trophy-winning performance by Jose Theodore and a heroic return from cancer by Saku Koivu, the Canadiens upset the favored Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Therrien’s lasting image for many Canadiens fans, however, was during that playoff loss to Carolina.
After Montreal took a 2-1 series lead and led Game 4 by a comfortable 3-0 margin in the third period, Therrien was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by referee Kerry Fraser for arguing a penalty call, and the Canadiens wound up losing the game 4-3 in overtime and eventually the series in six games.
Therrien was then fired in 2002-03 after the Canadiens started the season with a 16-12-6 record, but won just two of their next 12 games.
Therrien was hired by the Pittsburgh Penguins to coach their American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre the following season, and was promoted to take over for Ed Olczyk in Pittsburgh on Dec. 15, 2005.
He inherited a team led by Mario Lemieux playing the final season of his illustrious career, and featuring an 18-year-old rookie named Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins missed the playoffs that season with just 58 points in the standings. But a year later in Therrien’s first full season in Pittsburgh the team skyrocketed to 105 points before being knocked out in the first round in five games by the Ottawa Senators, who would go on to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
The following season, it was the Penguins’ turn to reach the Final after a 102-point regular season, but they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
Therrien was fired by the Penguins and replaced by Dan Bylsma in 2008-09, when they won the Stanley Cup by beating Detroit in the Final.
Therrien had a 135-105-32 record with the Penguins, and has an overall record of 212-182-68 in 499 games at the NHL level.