We know that the Canadiens somewhat limit their selection pool for head coaches by adding the bilingualism criteria and it’s not going to change, whether we have a temper tantrum about it or not. It’s a private enterprise who can make whatever rule they see fit. For some, it’s a hard concept to grasp as the sense of entitlement takes over common sense. So the sooner we learn to accept it, the better it will be for everyone.
So now, fans are calling for the firing of Dominique Ducharme. Like they were calling for the firing of Claude Julien before him, and for the firing of Michel Therrien, Jacques Martin and Guy Carbonneau before them. You see, every single coach will make decisions that will displease the crowds. Even the great Scotty Bowman was criticized for benching Guy Lafleur. So changing coach will only defer the issues onto the next guy, as history has clearly taught us.
Michel Therrien was shown the door after starting in Montreal and went on to win over 400 games as head coach in the NHL. Jacques Lemaire started coaching in Montreal and has over 600 wins. Claude Julien had his start in Montreal and has won 667 as a NHL bench boss. Alain Vigneault also received his first break with the Canadiens and has won over 700 games! It’s not that the men the Habs chose were bad, they are actually excellent. But they were inexperienced… at the time.
In spite of fans’ grumbles, Ducharme is yet another good, young promising coach. The only time he was given to coach this team under somewhat normals circumstance was during last year’s playoffs and we saw what happened. Instead of repeating history, why not get him a mentor, an experienced coach to help him go through the growing pains? That mentor could either be behind the bench with him, or up in the press box talking in his ear from time to time, while sitting together before and after games to share ideas with.
This mentor would have to be someone with NHL experience. Someone who has qualities in communication, in winning, in dealing with day to day issues which come from being behind a NHL bench coaching players. Further, while there are plenty of bilingual candidates available, he wouldn’t have to be speaking French as he would not be meeting with the public and media on a daily basis. He wouldn’t be someone who would overwrite his decisions, but someone who would provide a different look, mindset or voice.
If he wasn’t coaching the Canadian Olympic team, a guy like Claude Julien, who is still under the Habs’ payroll, might work although Ducharme has worked under him so he wouldn’t bring much when it comes to fresh ideas.
It would have to be someone Ducharme would trust. Someone who he would see as a resource, a useful one, and not a boss. My personal choice would be to ask Bob Hartley, with whom he has a great relationship. Or maybe Alain Vigneault, although he probably hasn’t given up on his coaching career yet. Dom has never worked with Michel Therrien, whose style was more offensive-minded that a few others before him.
Or what about a guy like Jacques Lemaire? Guy Carbonneau doesn’t have that much experience behind the bench but he has coached the Canadiens. What about Guy Boucher, known as one of the game’s great strategists?
You see where I’m going with that, right? Instead of pounding the guy to the ground, giving up on yet another newer coach just so he can go elsewhere to have success, why not invest in developing him and providing him with the valuable experience that he needs? It works in many other sectors, so why not for new NHL coaches? He just signed a new three-year deal and we’re not halfway through the first year!
Jeff Gorton wants to focus on drafting and player development. Perhaps thinking outside a box a little bit, he could also invest a bit on coaching development. The results might just surprise. On topic, I encourage you to read the first article in the list below…