As Canadian players met the media for the last time this season on Friday, the Anaheim Ducks made an announcement that had the effect of a little bombshell in the hockey world. After three seasons as head coach of Laval Rocket, Joël Bouchard turned his back on the Montreal organization to take control of the Ducks school club, the San Diego Gulls.
Behind the scenes of the NHL, this news surprised a lot of people. It overshadowed the Canadian record. At a time when developing hopes was never important to aspire to success, he locked up, in very mysterious circumstances, a young coach known for his exceptional talent.
And around the same time, we learned that the organization’s director of sports science and performance, Pierre Allard, had just resigned.
Eight years with the Canadians, Allard accepted a position as assistant coach with Red Bull Munich. For him, it would be a return to Germany, where he worked as a consultant for high-level teams before jumping to the NHL.
Allard will officially leave Canadians at the end of the month, after recruiting amateurs.
Three years ago, the Canadians school club was a joke in the hockey world. Although Bouchard had inherited a group of less talented players at the time, the change in culture and the establishment of strict work habits within this team was immediately apparent.
From that moment on, the rocket never stopped advancing. The same is true for the quality of youth development in the organization. In this respect, Jake Evans’ lead is perhaps the most compelling example.
During his press conference, Evans also made it clear with emotion that he would never have succeeded had it not been for Bouchard’s leadership in the MLS.
This season, despite the extremely difficult conditions imposed by the pandemic, Laval Rocket set a record 23-9-4 and maintained the AHL’s second hit rate (.694).
Bouchard’s influence was not only felt in terms of individual development. The collective development of the rocket and the working habits of the players was remarkable. They were always on a tablet, the recruiter from another NHL organization commented.
Bouchard is not just a coach. Establishes solid values within the organization. Three years after he left Blainville-Boisbriand, the culture he founded there is still very strong, referring to one of his former aides.
It’s hard to see why, but when Laval Rocket’s season ended, all employees in that organization were left without a contract by the Canadiens’ senior management. From the equipment attendees to the head coach, all of these people saw their job relationships end on June 30th.
Asked about this situation in mid-June, a spokesperson for the Montreal organization said it was a normal situation and that contracts were then drawn up. This attitude raised eyebrows throughout the league.
Bouchard’s somewhat bizarre case has been reported and commented upon several times in the media in recent weeks. This is also what put the chip in the ear of the duck bosses. This organization, which is in the process of reconstruction, was specifically looking for a good coach to develop its promising group of young aspirants.
I’ve been waiting for the season to end to see where we are [le Canadien] It was running as an organization. And I really liked what I saw during the qualifiers. Then on July 1st, to my surprise, I became independent. Anaheim Ducks showed interest early in the morningBouchard explained during a video conference organized on the spot.
I was surprised to receive so much love from Bob Murray [le DG des Ducks] and Martin Madden [le directeur général adjoint]. I have been transparent with them. I did not play Game. […] I am a young man from Montreal and was planning to stay with the Canadians. But I really liked the duck philosophy and the perception they had about my job. Soon we established a partnershipBouchard added.
The new coach of San Diego Norris also expressed his regret at leaving the players he trained at Laval.
We pushed the players and Khalifi will lead a great group. Somehow inherits a ready teamBouchard said.
For those with a good understanding of NHL methods and customs, this is almost a science fiction story. How can CH be able to delight an employee of this quality without moving a finger?
As far as I know, there weren’t any formal negotiations between Bouchard and Al Kindi before the end of his contract.He cited a source familiar with the matter.
But during his press conference, Joel Bouchard was careful not to throw an arrow at all against the Canadian. He is also a friend of Mark Bergievin, and he has been described several times as
Extraordinary CEO of CH. He also thanked Bergevin for giving him so much freedom to grow the organization’s hopes.
If Mark hadn’t given me this opportunity to drive the rocket, I would never have been able to do this interview with the ducks and have the opportunity to try something else.Bouchard said.
In San Diego, Joel Bouchard will follow his loyal assistant Daniel Jacob. The latter was at his side in the rocket. In fact, the two men have worked side by side since the days of Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Seeing them join the Ducks organization is a funny nod to the past.
Jacob is a former assistant coach at McGill University. Seven years ago, it was Stéphane Bellot, the current Quebec recruiter for the Ducks, who highly recommended that Joël Bouchard meet him when he was looking for a man of confidence to help him in Blainville-Boisbriand.
The duck managers didn’t really know Jacob. But Bouchard seems to have convinced them quickly and easily that he should be hired.
What just happened in Al Kindi shows that the club’s school is the least of Marc Bergevin’s worries. It wasn’t important to him at all, said a source familiar with the matter.
During his press conference, Bouchard insisted that he was never worried about his situation with the Canadians. It allowed him that renewing his contract was not a priority and that the organization’s leaders should focus on CH’s impressive run in the playoffs.
However, the organization had to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. As evidence of this, during the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadian increased the number of players in Roquet de Laval for the upcoming season.
Mark Bergiveen explained that at the end of the Rocket season, he and Bouchard agreed to discuss contract renewal after the two Canadians stopped working. Bouchard confirmed this.
When the coach was wooed by the ducks, the Canadian responded by offering Bouchard an assistant position to Dominique Ducharme, who was also his longtime partner.
When Joel and I work together, we don’t even have to talk. One look is enough to understand that we are on the same waveThe Canadian coach argued.
But in the end, Bouchard sees himself as the head coach of the NHL in the future. And this vision may come to fruition faster than you think.
Dallas Aikins, the current Ducks coach, will finish the final year of a three-year contract next season.