The Habs have found their replacement for Dominique Ducharme and it’s someone that certainly wasn’t on the radar as long-time NHL winger Martin St-Louis has been named as their new interim head coach.
The 46-year-old had a very strong playing career, notching 1,033 points in 1,134 NHL contests between the Flames, Lightning, and Rangers before hanging up his skates in 2015. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018, his first year of eligibility. His time in New York overlaps with when Jeff Gorton worked there if you’re looking for a connection.
But while St-Louis had a long and decorated playing career, the same can’t be said for his coaching career. He spent part of a season as a consultant with Columbus and that’s it for his NHL experience. Beyond that, his coaching has been limited to coaching an Under-13 team in New York.
That makes this particular hire a risky one as St-Louis is being tasked with turning a Canadiens franchise around that, quite frankly, is off the rails at the moment. While they won’t be counting on him suddenly turning the Habs into a contender – they’re certainly embarking on a rebuilding path – he won’t have a lot of coaching experience to draw on along the way.
What makes St-Louis an intriguing hire is the fact that he was a strong offensive player. Montreal is a team that hasn’t exactly been known for its scoring exploits in recent years and GM Kent Hughes expressed a desire for the team to become more up-tempo and offensive-oriented. This hire would seem to take a big step towards putting the Canadiens in that direction.
In the meantime, St-Louis will have the rest of the season to try to stake his claim to the full-time position; his contract runs through the end of the 2021-22 campaign. He’s scheduled to meet with the media on Thursday morning alongside Hughes and Gorton.