The Montreal Canadiens have been without their head coach for the biggest games the franchise has played in nearly 30 years, and it sounds like that trend will continue at least in the short term.
On Saturday the Habs provided an update on the absence of Dominique Ducharme, the team's leader behind the bench, who was knocked out of the Canadiens Stanley Cup Playoff Semifinal series against the Las Vegas Golden Knights when he tested positive for Covid-19. Ducharme, who has repeatedly stated that he hardly ever left his room except to eat his meals in the designated areas, somehow contracted the virus in spite of living under the National Hockey League's strict Covid Protocols and despite having been double vaccinated against the virus.
According to the Canadiens there is now an expectation that the team will see Ducharme return in the Stanley Cup Final, and more specifically for Game 3 of the series. This is obviously big news for the Canadiens who have been without their head coach for the last few games, but I do wonder how it will alter the team dynamic after they performed so well under the stone cold leadership of Luke Richardson.
Although thrust into what many would view as an impossible scenario during Game 3 against the Golden Knights, Richardson has performed admirably behind the Canadiens bench. Not only has Richardson himself remained cool, calm and collected after being thrust into the head coaching role, but he has seemingly demonstrated an ability to extend that demeanor to his players as well. It is hard to argue against the success Richardson has had since taking over for Ducharme behind the bench, and I do wonder how that dynamic will play out when Ducharme returns to reclaim his spot behind the Canadiens bench.
Making this all the more interesting is that both men are technically only "interim" head coaches at this time. Ducharme took over for former Canadiens head coach Claude Julien midway through the season after both Julien and former Canadiens forward Kirk Muller were both fired by Habs general manager Marc Bergevin. I do wonder if Bergevin will have a difficult decision on his hands after watching how well Richardson has performed with his team during his limited time as an interim head coach in his own right.