The Montreal Canadiens have hired Jean-Francois Houle as the next head coach of their AHL affiliate. Houle served as an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Condors the last six seasons, but will now join the Laval Rocket in the head coach spot that was vacated recently by Joel Bouchard. Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin released a statement on the hire:
The Montreal Canadiens organization proudly welcomes Jean-François Houle as head coach of the Laval Rocket. After meeting with him, we quickly concluded that his philosophy and values aligned with ours. His dedication, passion for hockey, attention to detail, and leadership ability are among his top qualities. Jean-François’ many years of experience, along with his knowledge of the American Hockey League and the Quebec market, made him the perfect candidate for the position. He has proven himself at all levels and has a great reputation. His expertise will be a key element in the development of our organization’s young players.
Houle, 46, has a long coaching history that also includes several years as the head coach of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL and as an assistant with Clarkson University. It is something of a family homecoming, as he is the son of Rejean Houle, the long-time Montreal player who won five Stanley Cup championships with the team in the 70s and even served as general manager a decade after his retirement.
Jean-Francois Houle meanwhile never did play in the NHL, but had a short successful minor league career before joining the coaching ranks in 2003. He has progressed quickly through various levels and is on a path that will eventually lead him to an NHL job, should his success continue. The next step is taking over in Laval, where he’ll be tasked with a combination of winning and development.