Photo: Salt Wire
The Montreal Canadiens, who entered Wednesday last in the NHL standings with a .265 points percentage (8-30-7 record) and a league-worst -79 goal differential, fired head coach Dominique Ducharme less than a year after hiring him as their interim head coach and losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, which lasted five games. Former Lightning forward Martin St. Louis will be the head coach for the rest of the season. The plan appears to be to see how this goes, then talk at the end of the year about the future.
After a 7-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils (who rank 28th with a .394 points percentage) on home-ice Tuesday, the Canadiens are 12 points behind the Buffalo Sabres for seventh in the Atlantic Division and 15th in Eastern Conference. Montreal is also 32 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Canadiens’ average of 2.20 goals-per-game is higher than only the Arizona Coyotes (2.15), 3.98 goals-against per game is the worst in the NHL, 13.6% power-play efficiency is better than just the Coyotes (12.2%), and 73% penalty-killing rate is the third-worst.
The Canadiens, who host the Washington Capitals on Thursday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market), are a league-worst 4-20-6 since November 13.
The Canadiens are the fourth team this season (Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers) to make a coaching change.
The Canadiens replaced GM Marc Bergevin with Kent Hughes earlier this season.
The team signed Ducharme to a three-year deal last summer paying him about $1.75 million per season. They also still owe Claude Julien, whom Ducharme replaced, his $5 million salary through June 30.
This will be St. Louis’ first gig behind an NHL bench.
“We would like to sincerely thank Dominique for his work and contributions to the Montreal Canadiens organization. At this point in the season, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to make a change,” said Hughes.
Since being named head coach in February 2021, Ducharme registered a 23-46-14 record in 83 regular season games at the helm of the Canadiens. In the playoffs, he posted a 13-6 record in 19 games, leading the Canadiens to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1993.
The status of assistant coaches Alex Burrows, Éric Gravel, Mario Leblanc, Trevor Letowski, Éric Raymond and Luke Richardson remains unchanged.
The Canadiens’ next head coach will be announced later today.
By Harrison Brown