Dominique Ducharme was named the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, after leading the team to the Stanley Cup Final as an interim coach this season.
Ducharme, 48, took over Feb. 24 from Claude Julien, under whom he was an assistant for two seasons. Montreal went 15-16-7 and finished fourth in the all-Canadian North Division before going on an epic postseason run: rallying to eliminate the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games, sweeping the Winnipeg Jets and ousting the heavily favored Vegas Golden Knights in six games before falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the Stanley Cup Final — the Canadiens’ first appearance in the final round since 1993.
Ducharme, who signed a three-year deal, becomes the 31st head coach in franchise history.
He missed the last four games of the Vegas series and the first two games of the Tampa Bay series after testing positive for COVID-19 on June 19, which put him in isolation for 14 days. He communicated with the team through video calls.
“The expectations from the outside were not very high. We had bigger expectations than that, and this is where we wanted to be. If we would have talked about them before the playoffs, we would have been called idiots. But we got here,” Ducharme said after falling to the Lightning. “We would have liked to have won three more games. It’s tough to take. To be so close, to have such a tight game tonight. But it’s part of growing as a team. One thing is certain, and that’s where we are as a team.”
The Joliette, Quebec, native spent 10 seasons coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (2011-18), as head coach with the Halifax Mooseheads (2011-16) and the Drummondville Voltigeurs (2016-18). The Canadiens are his first NHL team.
Interestingly, his general manager, Marc Bergevin, left his own future with the team up in the air after the season, saying, “I have one more year on my contract, and I will honor that.”