As many have expected, the Montreal Canadiens have hired Joel Bouchard to be the next head coach of their AHL affiliate. Sylvain Lefebvre had been fired recently as head coach of the Laval Rocket, a job that Bouchard will take after a few years leading the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL. The deal is for three seasons, and the Canadiens also announced that Larry Carriere, who had previously been GM of the team, will stay on as director of player personnel and senior advisor for Montreal.
Laval finished their AHL season with 12-straight losses and looked completely disjointed for much of the year under Lefebvre. Bouchard will be tasked with building the program up again and developing some more talent for the Canadiens to utilize. Though winning is important at the AHL level, players need to be better prepared for the NHL when they get the call. Montreal does have some talented prospects, but too often they’ve struggled when asked to play a role at the higher level.
Bouchard, a former NHL defenseman who played 364 games in the league, will bring his signature defensive structure that led to such success in the QMJHL. The Armada went to their second consecutive league final and finished with a 50-11-7 record on the year, earning Bouchard a Coach of the Year win. Luckily he’ll have his captain with him, as the Canadiens signed Alexandre Alain to an entry-level contract recently and will likely send him to Laval to start the year.