Pearn on being fired by the Habs: "It came completely out of the blue"
More than seven months after being unceremoniously dumped by the Montreal Canadiens and by then General Manager Pierre Gauthier, former assistant coach Perry Pearn has landed on his feet as an assistant coach in Winnipeg.
It will be Pearn's second stint behind the bench for the Jets, the first being back in 1995-96, and the 61 year-old says he’s happy to be going back to the team where he started his NHL coaching career.
“It feels pretty good. I had a pretty great experience in Winnipeg the last time and I have lots of friends who carry over from that particular time and fortunately for me one of those is Craig Heisinger, the assistant GM in Winnipeg, who I think has always been a great supporter.”
In addition to the Jets and the Habs, Pearn has spent parts of his 17 NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers. He joked that to come back to where it all began makes it feel like things are coming full circle.
“It sort of does. I’m just afraid it might be the circle of life...hopefully i’m not “finished” there.”
Pearn was relieved of his duties by the Habs on October 26, 2011, after a dismal 1-5-2 start. And while he knew that they had to improve, he was confident that they could have turned things around and had no idea his dismissal was coming.
“Actually no. I was pretty shocked really at the time and probably am still a little bit today. I coached in the national hockey league for 17 years and I’ve never missed the playoffs so not for a second at that time did I think we were going to miss the playoffs and not for a second did I not think that we were going to get it turned around. “
“Obviously it wasn’t a great start but by the same token I was fully confident that some of the things that needed to be corrected and that we were moving in the right direction
When a team struggles, it’s usually the head coach that gets shown the door. But in this case, Jacques Martin was allowed to stay (albeit not for long) as Pearn was offered up as the scapegoat.
“Well, again, I think how the whole season went was a little bit unusual. It certainly wasn’t the way it’s been done any place else in the national hockey league as far as I can remember. I’m pretty sure i’m going to be a question down the road in trivia for who was the first coach fired in that season. The fact that i’m an assistant coach will be what stumps everybody.”
And it wasn’t even the fact that it was the assistant coach who was let go that angered fans as much as it was the way it was done. Pearn agrees he found it strange to be fired mere hours before their game against Philadelphia.
“I did from the standpoint that I did both specialty team meetings in the morning. And I had actually stayed on the ice extra with a couple guys that day, again trying to get things going in the right direction and so it came completely out of the blue.”