HabsWorld.net -- 

The status of Laval bench boss Jean-Francois Houle has been in question for a while with his original contract set to expire and the fact the Rocket finished their season more than a month ago.  However, according to multiple reports from The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta and Dennis Bernstein, the Habs have inked Houle to a three-year extension.  Dans Les Coulisses’ Maxime Truman reported on Monday that negotiations had reached the advanced stage.

Houle has been in charge in Laval for the past three seasons with the team playing to a 105-86-25 record during that time.  Their playoff success has dwindled each year as well; the Rocket made the conference finals in their first year but were ousted in the qualifying round in 2022-23 and missed the postseason altogether this year, failing to win a pair of must-win games against Belleville in the final week of the campaign.

Considering that Houle was hired by former GM Marc Bergevin and not the current administration and the amount of time that had elapsed without an extension, some felt that a change behind the bench was likely to happen.  Now, assuming the deal is finalized, he’ll be in charge for the foreseeable future.

Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis has praised Houle and his staff for preparing players to play in Montreal as injury recalls have largely come up and looked ready.  Meanwhile, several of their younger players have gone down for short-term stints over the last three years and come back improved.  That likely played a big impact in the decision to retain Houle.

This season, Laval had a young roster and it’s likely to be even younger in 2024-25 with Filip Mesar, Owen Beck, and Adam Engstrom all turning pro while Lane Hutson (if he’s sent down), Luke Tuch, and Florian Xhekaj will all be in their first professional seasons after getting brief looks late in the year.  That could present some challenges from an on-ice success perspective so the focus will be on player development and clearly, management feels Houle is the right person for the job.

There will be one change coming on Laval’s coaching staff at some point between now and next season as assistant Kelly Buchberger left the team earlier this month to become a GM and head coach in the AJHL.