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Ducharme Felt Left In The Dark By Gorton, Hughes

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Montreal Canadiens

Former Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme has broken his silence and he did not hold back on his thoughts regarding Canadiens executive vice president Jeff Gorton and general manager Kent Hughes.

In an exclusive 1-on-1 with The Athletic and his first interview since being fired as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and immediately being replaced by Martin St. Louis on Feb. 9, the former Canadiens bench boss felt like he was left in the dark by the Montreal Canadiens new hockey operations regime.

“That’s the side of it that hurts, or that’s most disappointing to me, is not having the chance to sit down with them to tell them how I saw hockey,” Dominique Ducharme told Marc Antoine Godin of The Athletic. “If the plan was to lose the most games we could and to play the young players, I would have liked to have known because I would have had a different approach with them. I was trying to squeeze as much as I could everywhere to try and get some results. I saw teams that had games cancelled because five of their players had COVID. We had 10, and another eight who were injured, and we still played…”

According to Ducharme, one of the topics he really felt left out on was how he was expected to handle the development and playing time for then Montreal Canadiens rookie winger Cole Caufield. After bursting onto the NHL scene during the Canadiens’ improbable run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final alongside Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki, Caufield started the 2021-22 season on the top-line, but struggled mightily scoring just one goal in 30 games under Ducharme and being assigned to the Laval Rocket a month into season.

After Ducharme was fired though, Caufield exploded for 35 points in 37 games under St. Louis, including 22 goals in the final 35 games. Naturally the media and the fans laid the blame for Caufield’s struggles under Ducharme on him.

“Hearing that sucks,” Ducharme said. “Everyone was saying he would score 40 goals before the season even began. If he’d had a good start, he could have done it, but he got stuck in a spiral and the fact the team was struggling didn’t help him individually. When I hear things like that, it’s as if I didn’t want Cole to score 40 goals? I would have loved it if Cole scored 40 goals!”

In Ducharme’s eyes, the mantra that he stunted player development wasn’t just limited to Caufield and that he wasn’t giving the same green light as St. Louis to give that green light to the youth on the ice.

“We were always seen as the team that went to the Stanley Cup Final and that couldn’t win,” Ducharme said. “The coaching change sent a message to the fans and the players that ‘we’re rebuilding, we’re going to put our faith in the young players.’ The result was no longer important, Martin could talk about moral victories. Me, if I talked about moral victories, I would get ripped.”

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Brian Kelly

As a long time fan I don’t quite understand where Ducharme is coming from! When Jeff Gorton was hired he indicated that the head coach’s job was safe for the remainder of the season. A decision to make a change was made after (G.M.) Kent Hughes was hired – by that time the team as a whole and individual players were playing so pathetically bad that management had no choice, but to make a change. Under St Louis at least the team had structure and the kids were developing – neither was happening under Ducharme! Jeff Petry implied as much prior to Hughes being hired.

Humper

To me, any coach has a responsibility to develop the young prospects on a team. Ducharme just never gave those young players a chance to perform even when it was obvious the season was lost. He didn’t need direction from the GM to do that… it’s in his job description. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

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