While it has taken longer than perhaps some have expected, the Habs made it official on Wednesday, announcing they’ve removed the interim tag from Martin St. Louis and signed him to a three-year contract. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
St. Louis was a surprise choice to take over from Dominique Ducharme in early February as his coaching experience was quite limited. While he worked with Columbus as a special assistant for one year, that was it for his professional experience with the rest coming with an Under-13 team.
Regardless, St. Louis was able to spark the Canadiens into a considerably more competitive team down the stretch as the team went 14-19-4 under his tutelage despite shipping out several key veterans along the way. Perhaps most impressive was that youngsters like Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki showed considerable improvement at the offensive end while veteran Jeff Petry looked more like his old self as the season went on.
It’s expected that Montreal will be continuing its rebuilding efforts for at least another year or two so St. Louis won’t necessarily have a lot of pressure to win in the short term. Instead, the focus will be on player development and with how things looked in the second half of the season, management believes he’s the right person for the job.
St. Louis indicated at the end of the season that he didn’t foresee any changes coming to his assistants although that won’t necessarily stop them from trying to add a special assistant or two similar to the role he had in the past with the Blue Jackets. Beyond that, the coaching situation for 2022-23 is now settled and the team can shift its focus to the upcoming draft next month.