Speaking this weekend for the first time as the team’s temporary head coach, Caroline Ouellette hinted at a coaching committee for the remainder of the season to lead Les Canadiennes.
Montreal has yet to announce an interim coach, though Ouellette has coached the last two weekends on a week-to-week basis.
After this weekend’s games, she gave no indication she would be stopping.
“As an organization we need to find a way to move on and create as much stability as we can,” Ouellette said. “It hasn’t been easy but we need to move forward and focus on the little details that will make us successful.”
“For me this was a more long term goal to be the head coach of the Canadiennes,” she said. “I didn’t expect it in this moment and it will be a collaboration this year because I can’t leave my commitments with Concordia. I have the pee-wee team for the Quebec City tournament that is very important to me and that I committed to before this. I’m not the type of person to give up commitments I made. I think the girls know that and know that we’ll collaborate with coaches that are passionate and very qualified in my opinion to give us the best results in the situation we’re in.”
Les Canadiennes could add someone to their staff to continue the apprenticeship of Ouellette, or just to provide an additional set of eyes on the bench. The fact is, coaching Les Canadiennes is one of the most desirable coaching jobs in all of hockey. Here are some potential options.
The in-house option
It’s entirely possible that Les Canadiennes will stand pat. They have added Ouellette to the bench staff from her role as skills coach and also added Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux as a coach on their roster. She was behind the bench in Calgary, but was not at the two games at home vs. Worcester. Breton-Lebreux was an assistant coach up until this year, and could presumably slot into that role with Ouellette and Valérie Bois.
The Olympic path
Kevin Dineen was recently fired by the Chicago Blackhawks, but many forget he was the head coach for Canada’s women’s team at the 2014 Olympics, taking over a few months before the Games. He was named Canada’s head coach at the Spengler Cup, but that tournament is right in the middle of the CWHL’s holiday break.
Canada’s run of gold started with Danièle Sauvageau. Sauvageau was an assistant coach on the 1998 Olympic team and the general manager and head coach for the 2002 Olympics. She has commentated on women’s hockey for RDS, and other places including for CWHL games on their live stream.
Off the beaten path
There has been a trend in women’s hockey to hire coaches who have NHL experience as either players or coaches. Paul Mara, Robb Stauber, Bob Corkum, and Perry Pearn have all recently coached with the Canadian or US National team, among others.
No one would have assumed Pearn, a long-time NHL assistant would have made the jump to women’s hockey and it’s possible someone wanting to make their name in the women’s game but with a big reputation could want this job.
A lot of former Canadiennes are involved in coaching. However, people like Julie Chu or Noémie Marin won’t leave their teams mid-season, if at all. They put a lot into their programs and have a responsibility to their student athletes. One person who may be available is Sarah Vaillancourt. Vaillancourt coached at Stanstead College but stepped down in March for personal reasons.
A long shot
Digit Murphy is the most successful woman coach in CWHL history, and has a history of success of coaching. She coached the Kunlun Red Star last year to the Clarkson Cup final before getting replaced. She remains on the KRS board, which means that she likely won’t coach another CWHL team, especially in the middle of the season right before they head to China.