Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks towards the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. The Canadiens have fired head coach Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Montreal Canadiens fire coaches, add Alex Burrows

Alex Burrows has also been added to the Canadiens’ coaching staff

The struggling Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller.

Assistant coach Dominique Ducharme has been appointed interim head coach.

Alex Burrows has also been added to the Canadiens’ coaching staff.

After a one-week break in their schedule, the Canadiens have lost three in a row.

A 5-4 shootout loss in Ottawa against the Senators on Tuesday night marked the end of the line for Julien.

The Habs (9-5-4) were battling the Toronto Maple Leafs for top spot in the North Division earlier in the season, but have since dropped into fourth.

Julien returned to the Habs for his second go-round as head coach midway through the 2016-17 season.

Julien had to leave the team during the first round of the playoffs last year in Toronto when he had a stent installed in a coronary artery. Muller took over the head coaching duties and the Habs extended the top-seeded Philadelphia Flyers to six games before bowing out.

The Habs were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the 24-team post-season last year and then upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the qualifying round.

Ducharme joined the Canadiens coaching staff in April 2018 after 10 seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He won the Memorial Cup with Halifax in 2012-13 and has twice been Canada’s head coach at the world junior championship, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018.

Burrows has been a member of the coaching staff for the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval, Que., the past two seasons.

“I would like to sincerely thank Claude and Kirk for their contributions to our team over the past five years during which we worked together. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement.

“In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group. We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change. “

The Canadian Press

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