The Montreal Canadiens have fired Michel Therrien as head coach and replaced him with Claude Julien.

General Manager Marc Bergevin made the surprise announcement Tuesday afternoon.

"I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction," said Bergevin in a written statement.

He added he was hiring "the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track."

The Canadiens are not making any more statements about the decision until Wednesday. Julien will be available by telephone at 1 p..m, while Bergevin will meet reporters at 11 a.m.

Thierren coached the Canadiens for the past five years and was frequently criticized for his decisions, especially last season when the Canadiens performed abysmally following an injury that took Carey Price off the ice for months.

The Canadiens began the current season in spectacular fashion but have done very poorly since early January. They have lost 12 of their last 17 games, although they remain in first place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

Julien was fired as head coach of the Boston Bruins exactly one week ago after nearly ten years with the team.

Julien had great success with the Bruins in his first years with the team, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, but in the past two years the Bruins failed to make the playoffs and this year the Bruins are at risk of not making the playoffs.

This is the second time Julien has coached the Canadiens, and that time, he also replaced Therrien.

That transition occurred in 2002 when the Canadiens were in the middle of a losing stretch. At that point Julien lasted until 2006.

The next Canadiens practice is 4 p.m. on Friday, and their next games is Saturday at 2 p.m. against the Winnipeg Jets.