Bouchard brings fresh voice to Laval Rocket
Joël Bouchard’s former teammate is now his boss.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced Thursday morning that Bouchard has been hired as the new head coach of the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
Bouchard and Bergevin were teammates with the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2002-03 season and Bouchard was asked during a jam-packed news conference Thursday afternoon at Laval’s Place Bell if he had a favourite memory of Bergevin as a teammate.
“He’s by far ... by far the most energetic, friendly, funny guy I’ve played with,” said Bouchard, who played 13 seasons in the NHL. “I think it’s well known in the NHL. He was a guy that was coming every day as a professional. He knew when it was time to do business, he knew when it was time to laugh. He made everybody feel comfortable. I played half a year with him and he was a joy to listen (to) and to be with. I’m sure you guys know (that) from everybody in the NHL. He was a good guy to be around.”
Bergevin looked out at the assembled media and smiled before saying: “I don’t think they see that side of me.” Everyone in the room laughed. There wasn’t much to smile or laugh about this season with the Canadiens, unless it was how bad they were, finishing 28th out of 31 teams in the NHL standings. The Rocket were worse, finishing dead-last in the 30-team AHL.
“Joël and I played together in Pittsburgh, but the main reason he’s here, I think you guys all know why,” Bergevin said. “His success, his energy as a coach, his track record speaks for itself what he’s done with the Armada in Boisbriand.”
Bouchard won the Ron Lapointe Trophy this season as the QMJHL’s top coach after leading the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada to a league-best 50-117 record before losing to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the President’s Cup final. He was also GM and president of the junior team.
Bouchard brings very good credentials and some muchneeded fresh blood to the Rocket in the same way Dominique Ducharme does as a new assistant coach with the Canadiens. It will be interesting to see what kind of changes Ducharme and Bouchard — who are good friends — might help bring in systemwise, because what both teams have been doing hasn’t worked. Claude Julien still has four years left on his US$25-million contract as Canadiens head coach, but now has two bilingual guys behind him ready take his spot if things don’t work out.
“It’s a great pleasure and I’m privileged and humbled to be able to be here,” Bouchard said.
“It’s going to be a great adventure and I’m thrilled.”
Adventure is a good word.