Canadiens fire head coach Dominique Ducharme

Canadiens fire coach
Minas Panagiotakis, Getty Images

[UPDATE: The Canadiens have named Martin St. Louis as interim head coach.]

Things happen quickly in the NHL. Less than a year after taking over as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and helping lead them to a stunning Stanley Cup Final run, a performance that earned him a three-year contract extension, Dominique Ducharme has been fired by the team.

The team said in a statement on Wednesday that the next head coach will be announced later in the day, and the status of all assistant coaches on the roster remains unchanged.

“We would like to sincerely thank Dominique for his work and contributions to the Montreal Canadiens organization,” general manager Kent Hughes said in the team statement. “At this point in the season, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to make a change.”

The final straw for the Canadiens came on Tuesday night by getting blown out by a New Jersey Devils team that had not only lost 10 of its previous 11 games (including seven in a row), but was also playing without its best player (Jack Hughes). It was just the latest ugly loss in what has quickly become a lost season that has completely changed the overall direction of the franchise. Earlier this season general manager Marc Bergevin was fired, resulting in the hiring of Jeff Gorton to lead hockey operations and Hughes to take over as general manager.

Before the Canadiens hired Hughes, Gorton said that Ducharme would remain as the coach for the remainder of the season.

The Canadiens currently have the worst record in hockey and are on pace for the worst record in franchise history.

Offseason departures (Philip Danault, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tomas Tatar), the unexpected season long absence to key players (Carey Price, Shea Weber), and a lack of progress from young core players (specifically preseason Calder Trophy favorite Cole Caufield) have all added up to this.

There was always an expectation that the Canadiens were going to take a step back this season. Their Stanley Cup Final run was primarily driven by an out-of-this-world performance by Price in net as he put the team on his back in the playoffs, while the unconventional divisional alignment and playoff format also played a role. Had the Canadiens not been in the North Division with the other Canadian teams there is a good chance they do not even qualify for the playoffs in a normal season, let alone go on the run they went on.

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