The Montreal Canadiens have fired Dominique Ducharme and named Martin St-Louis as interim head coach.
St-Louis spent 16 years in the NHL, playing with the Calgary Flames, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the New York Rangers.
The Laval, Que. native led the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004. General Manager Kent Hughes said in a statement he was happy to welcome the Hockey Hall of Fame inductee into the Habs fold.
“Not only are we adding an excellent hockey man, but with Martin we are bringing in a proven winner and a man whose competitive qualities are recognized by all who have crossed his path,” he said in a statement.
Assistant coaches Alex Burrows, Éric Gravel, Mario Leblanc, Trevor Letowski, Éric Raymond and Luke Richardson will remain part of the club.
The news comes one day after the struggling club returned from the All-Star break and was pummelled by New Jersey on Tuesday night. The Devils came to the Bell Centre while on a seven-game losing streak, only to snag a 7-1 blowout victory.
Ducharme hadn’t been in the role for even a year. He took over from Claude Julien as interim head coach in February 2021, after a two-year stint as an assistant coach. He had previously spent 10 seasons coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“We would like to sincerely thank Dominique for his work and contributions to the Montreal Canadiens organization,” Hughes said in a statement Wednesday.
“At this point in the season, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to make a change.”
The Joliette, Que. native was officially given the top job a few months after the Habs squeaked into the playoffs for what ended up being a historic run. The team made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993, but ultimately lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After summer passed, the Canadiens returned to the ice only to have a season that has so far been riddled with injuries, absences and a string of losses.
Montreal has only managed two wins since Marc Bergevin was let go as general manager in late November. The team sits at the bottom of the league and has yet to post back-to-back wins this season.
The Habs have given up 33 goals after losing their last five games. They have lost seven straight, including two in overtime, and 13 of their last 14 games.
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St-Louis joins the Canadiens after a stellar 16-season NHL career that saw him collect 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) in 1,134 games with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
Just five foot eight, St-Louis loomed large as a player. He played in seven all-star games, won the Art Ross Trophy twice as the league’s leading scorer and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy three times, as well as the Ted Lindsay Award and Hart Memorial Trophy.
—with files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and The Canadian Press
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