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Former Canadiens Coach Speaks on Suzuki, Caufield’s Ceiling



Montreal Canadiens

Former Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme had some high praise for the Canadiens’ young core moving forward.

On a recent segment for 98.5FM, Ducharme spoke about his experience as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, but also offered some additional insight on some of the Canadiens’ cornerstone players. Ducharme was candid about his relationship with Carey Price and spoke at length about the unique circumstances of the 2021-2022 season. It was an interesting segment that caught the attention of many, as Ducharme rarely spoken to the media the specifics of his tenure since he was relieved of his duties this past February.

Cole Caufield’s Rollercoaster Year

In one of the most notable moments in the segment, Ducharme brought context to Cole Caufield‘s rollercoaster 2021-2022 season. According to Ducharme, the non-existent offseason was hard on most of the Canadiens’ players, but likely the hardest on Caufield himself due to various factors.

“Cole had a very short summer. I thought he performed well in the playoffs. He came out from Wisconsin University, went to Laval for a little bit and then joined us. He gradually integrated himself and I was happy with what he did for our team and his contributions from one series to another. Then you have a very short summer; people were putting the Calder in his hands, and Caufield, being a proud guy that wants to contribute, put a lot of pressure on himself and started the season behind the proverbial eight-ball. He had some ups and downs and went to Laval. He was tired. I mean, he even got injured in a meaningless the pre-season during warmups. That’s what I’m talking about when it comes to mental fatigue.”

When Caufield was able to recharge and refresh during the various covid pauses last winter, he looked to be improving in his game and really turned up the heat after Martin St. Louis took over as head coach. Having seemingly found his mojo and performing at such a high level so quickly, Ducharme did not hesitate in saying that he believes that Caufield has all the necessary aptitudes to be the first 50-goal scorer for the Montreal Canadiens since Stéphane Richer did it in 1989-1990.

“He could, because he certainly has the abilities to do so,” said Ducharme regarding the potential for Caufield to be the Canadiens’ next 50-goal scorer. “His shot, his ability to get open and playing with a guy with great vision in Nick Suzuki, it’s likely to happen.”

Next Montreal Canadiens Captain?

Speaking of Suzuki, Ducharme has gone on record before to speak about how much he appreciated the young centre’s game while he was the head coach for Montreal. However, during the segment, Ducharme was asked whether he believed Suzuki had what it took to be captain, and, whether it was too soon for the 23-year-old to take on such responsibilities. Ducharme didn’t even flinch, responding positively to the question and shining a light on Suzuki’s character in high-pressure situations.

“I’ll let them make a decision, but he’ll make a good captain,” said Ducharme regarding Nick Suzuki‘s candidacy as team captain. “It’s a double-edged sword, but he’s a guy that’s fueled by a challenge. When we got into the playoffs, he upped his game to another level. He’s a guy that’s got character.”

According to Ducharme, Suzuki’s ability to rise to every challenge, and he’s faced many in his young career, make him an ideal candidate to be the team’s captain moving forward. Ducharme also mentioned Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson as potential captains in the meantime, should the Canadiens want to take a patient approach, but believed it’s only a matter of time for Suzuki.