Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis wasn’t anticipating having to make changes to his coaching staff in the offseason, but he’s now searching for an assistant after Luke Richardson was named the new bench boss of the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
The good news is there is no shortage of candidates to consider for the role, both experienced coaches and potential outside-the-box hires depending on what St. Louis is looking for. Here are some names he will likely consider.
Bringing Experience to the Table
Considering the number of coaching changes around the NHL since the end of the regular season, some have yet to decide on their next opportunity and who might be intrigued by the possibility of serving as a mentor to St. Louis the same way Richardson did. The Canadiens need to add a defensive specialist behind the bench, someone who can work with the young defensemen set to join the roster in the coming years and who can also improve the team’s destructive structure as well as the penalty kill which has been a sore spot in recent years.
Bringing in an experienced candidate would be wise because it’s something the current group lacks. Rick Bowness, who stepped down as head coach of the Dallas Stars at season’s end, would be an excellent choice and he is willing to accept a mentor role alongside St. Louis. The 67-year-old is known for his defensive systems and defense-first mentality.
Andrew Brunette, who is looking for a new role after being named a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy as interim head coach of the Florida Panthers, would also be a good fit. Brunette is still young and can continue to grow together with St. Louis to eventually create a very formidable duo leading the charge for the Canadiens. The experience he gained with the President’s Trophy winners this year would be an invaluable addition to a team in the midst of a transformation with many young players set to lead the charge in the near future.
Meanwhile, Guy Boucher might feel that a return behind an NHL bench goes through Montreal.
Former Hab and Hall of Fame inductee Mark Recchi could very well be on the list of candidates as well. A former assistant coach with both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils, he also has experience as a player development coach which could come in handy given the number of prospects who will be vying for rosters spots in Montreal over the next few seasons.
An Internal Option
The Habs have a player development coach already in the organization who is deserving of a promotion. Francis Bouillon has held his current position since 2017 following a successful 15-year playing career in the NHL which included two stints with the Canadiens.
The former defenseman has paid his dues, often wearing multiple hats during this latest tenure in Montreal. He has a lot to offer, knows the players well, and it’s easy to envision him building strong chemistry with the head coach.
Outside the Box Possibilities
Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes often talk about thinking outside the box when discussing their upcoming hires and not being afraid to go down a more unconventional path to build their team. So, it stands to reason that they, along with St. Louis, will take this approach to complete their coaching staff. From the outside, it would seem like a good idea to hire someone with previous NHL coaching experience, but they might just have other ideas.
Could another former Tampa Bay Lightning teammate of St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier be brought into the fold? Dan Boyle played over 1,000 games on the blue line in the NHL and just might be enticed to get into coaching for the chance to work with his good friend.
He’s not exactly an outside-the-box name given his extensive experience and Hall of Fame credentials, but what if the new management group surprised everyone by bringing back Canadiens legend Larry Robinson? What a coup that would be.
There’s little doubt that they will look outside the NHL for coaches making a name for themselves in other leagues and even on other continents.
Losing Richardson is a tough blow for the Canadiens, but it’s also an opportunity to try something new while also benefitting from a fresh perspective. Plus, it won’t be difficult to generate interest for the suddenly open position next to the much-respected St. Louis because of his modern approach and dedication to rebuilding a sustainable winning culture in Montreal.