July 2: Ducharme is on the ice at today’s morning skate and is expected to be behind the bench this evening.
June 26: Some more good news came across the wire for Montreal Canadiens fans today. The team announced via Twitter Saturday morning that they expect head coach Dominique Ducharme to return behind the bench for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It will be Ducharme’s first game action since Game 2 of the team’s Stanley Cup Semifinal series versus the Vegas Golden Knights after a positive COVID-19 test sidelined the head coach for 14 days.
In Ducharme’s absence, longtime NHLer and Habs assistant coach Luke Richardson has taken over the bench. The Habs went a sparkling 3-1 with Richardson at the helm, losing one game due to a Nicolas Roy overtime winner. Richardson’s knowledge of the current roster, having been an assistant coach with the team since 2018-19, has proved instrumental in helping Montreal return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1993.
This current playoff run has been somewhat of a renaissance for Ducharme himself. After a rocky 15-16-7 finish under Ducharme’s tutelage, Montreal entered as the worst team by standings’ measure in the playoffs. As the interim bench boss, it was rather unlikely that he’d be retained as the head coach at the season’s end. However, it’s impossible to ignore what Ducharme and Montreal have put together over the past few weeks, especially after dispatching two of the league’s top teams in Vegas and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It certainly won’t be a cakewalk for Montreal, Richardson, and Ducharme as they prepare for a battle against the defending Stanley Cup champions, with Game 1 Monday night in Tampa. Ducharme will wait eagerly for his return to the Bell Centre for Game 3 on Friday night.