MONTREAL (AP) -Guy Carbonneau was fired as coach of the struggling Montreal Canadiens, hockey's most historic franchise that is in danger of missing the playoffs in its 100th season.
The timing of Monday's move was a bit surprising because the Canadiens are currently in a playoff position and there are only 16 games left in the regular season.
General manager Bob Gainey, who handed the coaching duties over to Carbonneau three years ago, will return behind the bench when Montreal hosts Edmonton on Tuesday.
The Canadiens started Monday in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they were only one point above the postseason cutoff. What was supposed to be a season of celebration has turned into one of difficulty.
Montreal (35-24-7) went into a free fall in late January and February, losing 10 of 13. The Canadiens, 5-4-1 in their previous 10 games, won 3-1 at Dallas on Sunday in their last game with Carbonneau as coach.
Carbonneau officially became the head coach on May 5, 2006, after serving as an associate to Gainey for the final 41 games of the 2005-06 season. Gainey took the job after firing coach Claude Julien. He announced then that Carbonneau would take over as head coach the following season.
In 230 games with the Canadiens over three seasons, Carbonneau was 124-83-23. He is the seventh NHL coach fired this season, and the fourth in five weeks.
Gainey, a Hall of Fame forward in 16 seasons with the Canadiens, also had a coaching stint with the Minnesota-Dallas franchise from 1990-96. He was 23-15-3 behind the Canadiens bench.