With the major loss of former assistant coach Luke Richardson to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Montreal Canadiens have an opportunity to continue the process of revamping their coaching philosophy.
Although the loss of Luke Richardson is a big loss for the players, the timing of his departure was done early enough in the offseason to allow the Montreal Canadiens to find a viable replacement. This summer has one of the most extensive range of coaching options in recent memory, with a plethora of experienced coaches available, putting the Canadiens in an advantageous situation.
Make no mistake; this hire is especially important to the long-term success of this club. As the Canadiens continue to funnel in young defencemen over the next couple of years, having an assistant coach with a penchant for aggressive defence and quick transition to handle the backend for the club will be imperative. The next assistant coach will have to be able to not only teach structure in the defensive zone; but also contribute to the high-tempo offensive style head coach Martin St. Louis wants to play.
The thing is, most experienced coaches preach a more traditional concept of defensive play, meaning that experience might not be the most important requirement for the Canadiens in their search.
Is Experience A Prerequisite?
Many would argue that St. Louis would require an experienced assistant coach to help shoulder the toll of a full NHL season and bring some insight to the table. Although those points are valid, as we’ve seen since the very beginning of this new regime under Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, expect the next hire to be “out of the box”.
There are some candidates that the Montreal Canadiens can take a look at, like Andrew Brunette, Kevin Dean, Ulf Samuelsson, Mark Recchi or even Montreal Canadiens legend, Larry Robinson. However, as we saw with the hiring of St. Louis, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Canadiens pull a rabbit out of their hat here and surprise everyone with a younger, fresher candidate.
The Canadiens will have an embarrassment of riches to choose from this summer in terms of available coaches; it’ll be very interesting to see which way they decide to go.