There is no doubt in the minds of those who have rubbed shoulders with Dominique Ducharme that the new interim head coach of the Habs is in the right place.

Ducharme replaces Claude Julien, fired with Kirk Muller following Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, a sixth in eight outings and a third in a row.

Steve Hartley, who was his assistant three years in Halifax and two more years in Drummondville in the QMJHL, is convinced that he is tailor-made for the position.

“His primary quality is the structure he brings to his teams,” said Hartley, contacted by The Canadian Press. He has a great sense of hockey. We often hear about the old school versus the new school: Dominique has just the right mix of the two, being just close enough to his players, while keeping enough distance.

“His way of managing each situation, his calm: it’s methodical. There is no detail that is left to chance. That’s why for me there is no doubt that he will be successful. “

Hartley, now at the head of the Voltigeurs since Ducharme joined the CH in 2018, adds that he will have no trouble making the transition between leading in the junior and at the professional level.

“Today, it’s in your management of people. It’s like any business: if you are able to manage people, you will be successful. Dom has gone through all the stages: he was head coach in Junior AAA, assistant in Major Junior, head coach in Major Junior, GM in Junior, he led Team Canada Junior before being Assistant with the Canadian.

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“He did his classes. He led some good players. Nathan MacKinnon in the junior or Nathan MacKinnon in the NHL, it’s the same. If you are able to manage people, junior or professional, there is no difference. “


The greatest quality of Ducharme, in Hartley’s eyes, is his talent as a communicator.

“It’s black or white, there is no gray area. That’s fair, Hartley said. You make a mistake, he tells you. You do a good job, he tells you too. This is its great quality. Nothing is left to chance. When he tells you something, it’s thoughtful, precise. That’s why players enjoy playing for him. “

Words that echo with his former players.

“Of course it’s different in the NHL. But [Dominique] was not only good at leading the team, but leading the players, on and off the ice, said Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers, who played for Ducharme in Halifax. He’s a guy you could always talk to. When I arrived [au Canada], I didn’t know what to expect. In Halifax, the team made it easy for me. Dom was there for a large part.

“Dom was amazing. I talk to him often. He is always available. With all his experience, he knows a lot about hockey. I have developed enormously under his orders. I owe him a lot for my career so far. […] I am very happy for him. He deserves this chance, that’s for sure. “

“Basically, Dom is a good person. We didn’t work together for long, but he’s a guy who was easy to approach, always there for you, ”added Pierre-Luc Dubois, who worked with Ducharme with Team Canada Junior, in 2017.

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“At the World Juniors, at 18, I felt a lot of pressure. He was good to me, he took that pressure off me. He’s a good system trainer. I enjoyed working with him. “

With Alexis Bélanger-Champagne

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