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Joel Bouchard is exactly what the Canadiens organization needs

The coach is ready for the next step

Shanna Martin

Joel Bouchard was upset.

The coach of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada was asked about an outburst he had on his team’s bench after his team took a 3-1 lead over the Baie Comeau Drakkar in an eventual 4-1 win in January.

“I wasn’t happy and they knew I wasn’t happy. I needed them to bear down because we made bad decisions with the puck when we took the lead and that’s not the way we play here,” Bouchard said.

“We’re not here to win a Wednesday night game in January. We’re here to win the Cup. We’re here every year to win the Cup. You have to give them the tools to play the right way. There will be games we lose where I’ll be happy but today they know I’m not happy. It’s not the spirit I ask from them.”

“When they’re not good, they’re not good and I’ll let them know they aren’t good. And today they weren’t good. And they know that. That’s what is fun. At least they know. The problem is when they don’t know and they think the coach is just being hard on them.”

This was the first time I saw Bouchard talk and I walked away very impressed. He is really raw and emotional and it makes him endearing. And he’s also smart. You listen to him and you just feel that he gets it. Each of the players who talked after the game understood exactly why their coach reacted like he did.

Sure there’s a risk that this kind of gimmick won’t work at a professional level like it did at the Junior level, but Bouchard has played the game. He’ll know what works in Junior and what works in professional hockey.

He will have that respect of his players and it’s also entirely possible he will know how to pick his spots. Hopefully he doesn’t do it too often in front of a live microphone, though.

In all seriousness, this is a coach who has standards and can create a winning culture - something the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate hasn’t been able to do lately.

Bouchard has coached the Armada to back-to-back QMJHL finals and has been involved with the team since they were the Montreal Junior. The last two years the Armada are 93-30-13. And rumours are swirling that he will be leaving the organization.

On top of that, Marc Bergevin has admitted an interest in Bouchard and may have even met with him already.

Bouchard has been the general manager of the team, as well as head coach, and has worked with the Canadian Junior program (with Dominique Ducharme) the last few years. The knowledge he acquired would make him a great addition to the staff, since he has first-hand experience with top junior players.

There has been no official indication of whether Bouchard will join the Canadiens but, like Ducharme, it makes too much sense not to. It seems he’s a fit for a management role with the Laval Rocket (some guesses — like the tweet below — have him as GM and head coach), but the former NHL defenceman could also be a candidate to be the defence coach on Claude Julien’s staff.

Either way, Bouchard would be a refreshing addition, if the Canadiens decide to bring him into the organization, and is exactly the type of coach they should take a chance on developing.