It has been a tough season for the Habs on many fronts and another casualty has occurred from it as the team announced Wednesday that Dominique Ducharme has been fired as head coach.
Ducharme took over as head coach just under a year ago on February 24, 2021, carrying the title on an interim basis. While the Canadiens didn’t really come out of their tailspin that resulted in Claude Julien and Kirk Muller being let go, they did manage to qualify for the playoffs as the final seed in the North Division.
From there, Montreal went on an improbable and impressive run to the Stanley Cup Final, earning himself a three-year deal from then-GM Marc Bergevin in the process, a move that was certainly understandable given their playoff success.
However, the Habs haven’t been able to duplicate that level of success this season. Not even close. The team has been hit hard with the departures of several key veterans in free agency plus numerous key injuries, including Shea Weber and Carey Price who have yet to play this season. As a result, early expectations heading into the year were that the Canadiens would take a step back.
But no one could have expected the disaster that this season has become. The Habs have looked listless for most of 2021-22 and are in a stretch where they’ve allowed 33 goals over five games (a franchise first) with extremely porous play from their back end exacerbating the fact that Montreal has a pair of very inexperienced goalies in net in Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau.
While Jeff Gorton expressed his intent to retain Ducharme for the reason of the season when he joined the organization (understandable from the sense of trying to douse the speculation of Ducharme’s future), the fact they came to this decision does make sense. If he and GM Kent Hughes intend to move several veterans, a coaching change may be a spark to get some of the underperformers back on track, helping their value in the process.
Ducharme’s tenure comes to an end with him leading the team to a 23-46-14 record in 83 regular season games with a 13-6 playoff record (which includes the games that Luke Richardson was in charge when Ducharme was in COVID protocol).
As for who takes over for Ducharme, that’s unknown at this time. Montreal’s release mentioned that the rest of the coaching staff remains unchanged with an announcement of the new head coach to be made later today.