Dominique Ducharme, Canadiens Agree to 3-year Contract to Be HC After Interim Role

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

MONTREAL, QUEBEC - JULY 02:  Head coach Dominique Ducharme of the Montreal Canadiens reacts against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period in Game Three of the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre on July 02, 2021 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens have removed the interim tag from coach Dominique Ducharme by agreeing to a three-year extension to make him the permanent replacement for Claude Julien.

"Dominique has managed to set his system in place and establish himself as a head coach in a very unusual season with challenging circumstances," general manager Marc Bergevin said in Tuesday's announcement.

"While our team has gone through its fair share of adversity, he has shown a lot of control over the situation as well as showing calm and great leadership. These are important qualities that we look for in a head coach and he fully deserves the chance to lead our team and take it to the next level."

According to TSN's Pierre LeBrun, Ducharme's deal will average $1.7 million annually.

A long-term contract felt inevitable given how the Canadiens performed in the postseason under his watch.

They went 15-16-7 with him in the regular season, which was good enough to finish fourth in the North Division and qualify for the playoffs. Montreal then made an improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.

Some, however, will question whether the franchise's postseason outcome obscured what came before it.

Jeff Veillette @JeffVeillette

Hard to argue with this. Montreal started the season with a 9-9 record, 57% xG Share and a +11 goal difference. Once Ducharme took over, he turned them around and led them to a 28-32 record, 50% xG Share and a -21 goal difference. Worthy of a long-term commitment. <a href="https://t.co/NfrrYAs1gA">https://t.co/NfrrYAs1gA</a>

Bergevin may have pointed to one of the bigger reasons behind this decision when he highlighted Ducharme's "calm and leadership."

By the numbers, the Canadiens weren't a vastly different team with the 48-year-old at the helm compared to Julien.

But Bergevin and the front office will have seen his day-to-day interactions with the players. Beyond the challenges of a typical season, Montreal saw four games postponed in March due to the NHL's COVID-19 protocols.

Ducharme seems to have been a steady hand on the bench, and now he'll have a chance to prove his skeptics wrong in 2021-22.