The Montreal Canadiens have announced that Sylvain Lefebvre, head coach of their AHL affiliate the Laval Rocket, has been relieved of his duties. GM Marc Bergevin released a statement along with the announcement:
I would like to sincerely thank Sylvain for his loyalty, his hard work and his contribution to the Montreal Canadiens’ organization over the past six seasons with Hamilton, St. John’s and Laval. Challenges are extremely demanding as a Head Coach in the AHL, and Sylvain and his group had to overcome several difficult situations over the years. The decision to remove Sylvain from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have a lot of respect for him and I consider him to be an excellent coach. I took the time to discuss the situation with Larry Carrière, and concluded that our development team needed a new direction in the head coaching position.
There was little reason to expect Lefebvre to be back, after the Rocket finished dead last in the AHL. The team won just 24 games and allowed a league-high 281 goals. That record came after a twelve game losing streak to finish the season, where the team had obviously lost any spark they once had.
Though the Rocket did supply their parent club with some talented youngsters, there wasn’t a consistent pipeline of support for the team when the struggled with injury. With Montreal still considering themselves playoff contenders, the minor league system has to be better at providing NHL-ready talent when called upon. Much of that falls on the front office, but some part at least sits with Lefebvre and his staff. Laval should get some added depth next season after another year of draft picks graduate to professional hockey, but a new coaching staff will be the ones who develop them into NHL players.