According to TSN on Wednesday, the Montreal Canadiens decided to make a coaching change. They named Dominique Ducharme of Joliette, Quebec their new interim head coach, and fired Claude Julien of Blind River, Ontario. Julien had been the head coach of the Canadiens on two separate occasions. The first time from 2002 to 2006, and the second time was from 2016 to 2021. Julien was also with the New Jersey Devils, and Boston Bruins, and won a Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011.
Ducharme had been the assistant coach with the Canadiens since 2018. A very successful head coach at the junior level, Ducharme was in charge of the Halifax Mooseheads from 2011 to 2016. In his five years in Halifax, Ducharme’s most successful year was 2012-13. That year, the Mooseheads had a remarkable Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season, as they went 58-6-3 in the regular season, before going 19-2 in the playoffs. The Mooseheads won the 2013 Memorial Cup by beating the Portland Winterhawks 6-4 in the championship game from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Ducharme was named the winner of the 2013 Ron Lapointe Trophy, presented to the Quebec Major Hockey League Coach of the Year.
From 2016 to 2018, Ducharme stayed in the QMJHL as the head coach and general manager of the Drummondville Voltigeurs. In his second season with the Voltigeurs, he was the head coach for Team Canada at the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, New York. In the gold medal game, Canada defeated Sweden 3-1.
The Canadiens meanwhile are in fourth place in the North Division with a record of nine wins, five regulation losses, and four losses in extra time for 22 points. They lead the Calgary Flames by two points for the final playoff spot in the North Division. A reason for the coaching change is that the Canadiens had lost their last two games to the last-place Ottawa Senators.