On Friday, the Montreal Canadiens announced some changes to their hockey operations staff. Leaving the organization are assistant coaches J.J. Daigneault and Daniel Lacroix, and joining Montreal is Dominique Ducharme as the team’s newest assistant coach.
Both Daignault and Lacroix were carryovers from former coach Michel Therrien’s staff, so it’s not surprising they would eventually be let go after head coach Claude Julien was hired midway through last season. The demise of the Habs this year may have helped hasten their departure. Daigneault, in particular, was given responsibilities for both the defencemen and the penalty killing squads and both were putred this season.
Ducharme arrives in Montreal with an impressive resume. As head coach of the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads, he lead his team to a Memorial Cup win in 2012-13, and added the CHL & QMJHL Coach of the Year awards also. In 2018 as head coach, he led Team Canada to a gold medal finish at the World Junior Champtionship. Ducharme has had success in other international tournaments including a silver medal at the 2017 World Junior Championship, a gold finish for the Canadian Under-18 team in the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament as an assistant, and several other international coaching stints.
Ducharme is known to be an excellent motivator and strategic coach. Reports from Team Canada players have been glowing about Dominique during the past two seasons at the World Junior Championships. Usually a head coach has a strength in one or the other category, and they typically rely on their assistants to help out more in their skillsets that are weaker so it’s impressive to know he excels in both.
Ducharme has a direct tie to Habs forward Jonathan Drouin while in Halifax. Drouin was named CHL Player of the Year in 2012-13 while totaling 242 points in 128 regular season games, and 102 points in 50 playoff games played over 2 1/2 seasons under Ducharme.
There were rumours that Montreal was pursuing Ducharme to take over as the head coach of the AHL team after Sylvan Lefebvre was fired from that position earlier this month. However, I am pleased to know now that he will be given a more important role with the head club. Ducharme’s work with younger players should help benefit Montreal as they are transitioning towards more of a youth movement.
In addition, the Habs announced an extension was signed by goaltending coach Stephane Waite. Details of the contract were not disclosed.