Canadiens fire assistant coaches Daigneault and Lacroix, add Ducharme

MONTREAL — Canadian world junior championship coach Dominique Ducharme has made the jump to the NHL as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens dropped assistant coaches Jean-Jacques Daigneault and Dan Lacroix and hired Ducharme away from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League on Friday.

The club also gave a contract extension to goaltending coach Stephane Waite, who has been with the team for five years.

The moves are part of an off-season shakeup by a Canadiens team that missed the playoffs for a second time in three years. On April 17, the club fired Sylvain Lefebvre, coach of their American Hockey League team, the Laval Rocket, which also missed the playoffs. Lefebvre has yet to be replaced.

Ducharme, 45, has built an impressive resume in junior hockey and may be seen as a potential future replacement for Canadiens head coach Claude Julien.

The Joliette, Que., native coached 10 years in the QMJHL with Halifax and Drummondville. In 2013 he took a Mooseheads team that included future Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon and Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin to a Memorial Cup title, as well as winning the QMJHL coach of the year award.

He moved to Drummondville in 2016 to be closer to his family.

Ducharme coached Canada twice at the world juniors, winning silver in 2017 and gold in 2018.

“With Dominique, we are very confident that we hired an excellent coach, a man who proved himself at the junior level in the QMJHL,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “Furthermore, his experience on the international stage with Hockey Canada has given him valuable knowledge which will allow him to make the jump to the professional ranks.”

As a player, Ducharme was a centre at the University of Vermont in the early 1990s, where his teammates included future NHL stars Martin St. Louis and Tim Thomas. He later played minor pro before ending his career in France.

Julien inherited his coaching staff when he took over late in the 2016-17 campaign and kept them on this season.

“Claude Julien and I are committed to fully evaluating the work of our personnel, and we both agreed to make this difficult decision, and to proceed with these changes in our coaching staff,” Bergevin said.

The 52-year-old Daigneault, whose contract was expiring, joined the Canadiens staff in 2012. He played for the team from 1989 to 1995, winning a Stanley Cup in 1993.

Lacroix, 49, who had one year remaining on his contract, has been with the club since 2014 after previously working as an assistant with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lighting and New York Rangers.

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