Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators: Could Dom Ducharme Be the Next Head Coach?

From the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, it was no secret that former Ottawa Senators coach Guy Boucher was coaching on borrowed time.

The third-year Ottawa Senators bench boss was coming off a catastrophic campaign, following the team’s Cinderella run to the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, and the Senators were clearly poised for another tough year come October.

Then, with 18 games left in the season, the shoe finally dropped, and Boucher was unceremoniously fired. While Marc Crawford has taken over the job on an interim basis, the Sens are supposedly considering outside candidates as well. While everything the organization says should be taken with a heaping helping of salt, rumours have begun swirling about who Pierre Dorion and Co. are looking at.

Bienvenue Dominique?

Embed from Getty Images

One of the names that has come up is Montréal Canadiens assistant coach, Dominique Ducharme. The 45 year-old is on his first NHL job, but has a stellar coaching pedigree. Ducharme spent nine seasons in the QMJHL, with seven as head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads and Drummondville Voltigeurs, respectively. He led the Mooseheads to their first, and only Memorial Cup in 2013. 

Considered by many to be Montréal’s head coach-in-waiting, perhaps the biggest indication of Ducharme’s coaching ability has come from the people he’s encountered during his career. Hockey Hall of Famer, and Stanley Cup Champion, Martin St. Louis played with Ducharme for two years at the University of Vermont, and has complimented the coach’s “high IQ”.

Another notable name with good things to say about Ducharme is Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon. A key player on the Mooseheads’ 2013 championship squad, MacKinnon gave a glowing review of his former coach to the Montreal Gazette.

With reviews like that, it’s easy to see why the Ottawa Senators are interested in Dominique Ducharme. They’ve had plenty of encounters with him, being on the bench of their divisional rival, and much of his career has been right in their backyard of Quebec. Including the 2017 World Junior Championship, where he led Team Canada to a silver medal, while coaching tournament MVP, Thomas Chabot.

Would Ducharme Be A Good Fit?

So, is Ducharme a good candidate for the Ottawa Senators?

I would say so. As hungry as Sens fans are for an established NHL head coach, which they haven’t had in more than a decade, they need to be realistic with their expectations. I can’t imagine that coaches like Joel Quenneville or Alain Vigneault are eager to come coach in this organization. Heck, even Dan Bylsma is likely to keep his assistant job in Detroit, rather than coach a Eugene Melnyk-owned hockey club. One that has purged itself of all talent, and credibility.

Beyond that, the Senators could benefit from a young coach. One that isn’t far removed from the junior ranks, much like the majority of their roster. Who better to coach the crop of young kids than a man who coached the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin during their junior careers?

The advancement of young Montréal players is also an encouraging sign. While it’s uncertain how much of that is Ducharme’s doing, a lot of their kids have taken surprising steps this year. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Arturri Lehkonen, and Victor Mete have all turned in solid seasons, and that gives way for some optimism if the Habs coach lands the Ottawa job.

Ducharme Would Be A Good Mentor For The Young Sens

With young bucks like Brady Tkachuk, Colin White, Thomas Chabot, Christian Wolanin, and Rudolfs Balcers currently establishing themselves as the core of Ottawa’s lineup, and the likes of Drake Batherson, Alex Formenton, and Erik Brännström on the way next year, it’s important to have a coach that can establish a rapport.

Ownership aside, the key to the Senators’ next few years lies in the development of their youth. With veteran presences like Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, and Erik Karlsson no longer around to help guide them, a head coach that’s able to reach the young players becomes that much more important.

Ottawa could do a lot worse than Dom Ducharme.

Stats from Hockey-Reference

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Brandon Maki is a Staff Writer at SilverSevenSens.com, and Ottawa Senators contributor for Puck77.com

Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonMaki6

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Illustrious Career of Victor Hedman

Heading into the All-Star break, I’ve decided to look back at the storylines that the Tampa Bay Lightning have had. I’ve already addressed the off-season and who they need to re-sign, so what else is there? His name is Victor Hedman.

Hedman leads all Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman in games played in franchise history, and this is how he got here.

PRE-NHL (2007-2009)

In the 2007-2008 season, the 16 year old Hedman was playing for MODO Hockey Ornskoldsvik of the Swedish Elite League. He wound up playing 39 games, registering 2 goals, 2 assists for 4 points. He also played 5 playoff games, gaining just one point in that span. But that was just the beginning. In the following season for MODO, Hedman recorded 7 goals, 14 assists for 21 points in 43 games played. He also finished with a +/- of +21, which was 2nd on the team that year. Ahead of the draft, the 6’6”, 220 pound Swedish defenseman was a highly touted prospect.

SCOUTING REPORT

Thehockeywriters.com, known for scouting and ranking up-and-coming players ahead of drafts, had this to say on the then 18 year old Hedman:

A fast and smooth skating defenseman, offensively and defensively sound and is 6’6” 220lbs and only recently turned 18?!? Is he genetically engineered? Nope! It’s one Victor Hedman who’s a shoe in to go second overall in June, with more than a few GMs considering him at first overall. I was, in fact, contemplating ranking him at numero uno, given the rarity of such a combination in a defenseman of size, skill and skating ability. In the end, I had to give Tavares the slight edge.”

They then went on to compare him to a, “Hybrid of Jay Bouwmeester and Chris Pronger”. Here’s what else they had to say about Hedman:

“Scouting Combine Performance: Eug Sorokin, my inside agent at the combine, had the opportunity to speak with Hedman while he was waiting for a laptop to do one of the tests. Eug  was so impressed with Victor, he went so far as to say he was “one of the finest human beings he had the opportunity to meet.” While Hedman is not vying for a Nobel Peace Prize, Sorokin went on to report: “All in all, a good-hearted kid, very genuine, and an absolute physical freak.”

“Gare Joyce reported Hedman was one of only seven of all tested to score “AA” (above average) in both upper and lower body physical development. He measured in at 6’6”.”

quotes are from Christopher Ralph’s post, #2 Victor Hedman – The Hockey Spy’s 2009 NHL Entry Draft Rankings (The Hockey Writers)

HOW THE LIGHTNING FINISHED THAT SEASON

In 2008-2009, the Lightning finished 24-40-18, good for 66 points and grabbing the 2nd overall pick of the draft. 33 year old Martin St. Louis finished with a team leading 80 points that season, with then-rookie Steven Stamkos finishing with 46 points in 79 games, ranking third on the roster. But defensively, not a single defenseman who played at least 25 games, finished with a positive +/-. On top of that, not a single Lightning defenseman finished with more than 23 points, and the leading defenseman in points was Steve Eminger, who finished with a -4 and was out of the league by the 2012-13 season and never recorded more than the 23 points he had with Tampa Bay. So it made sense why the Lightning were interested, and Hedman was everything you would want in an NHL defenseman.

HIS FIRST 3 SEASONS IN THE NHL (2009-2012)

Immediately, Hedman made an impact, playing in 74 games his rookie year, recording 4 goals, 16 assists for 20 points. He followed that up the following season, playing 79 games, with 3 goals, 23 assists for 26 points and a +3 +/-, and helping to lead the team to the playoffs with a 46-25-11 record. In the 2011-2012 season, Hedman played in a career low (at that point in time) 61 games, but recorded a then-career high 5 goals, 18 assists for 23 points. He also had a poor +/- of -9 that season.

2012-2013 LOCKOUT SHORTENED SEASON

During the NHL lockout of 2012-2013, Hedman played 26 KHL games, recording one goal, 20 assists for 21 points. It seems as though that experience in the KHL helped speed up Hedman’s development, as he returned to the NHL to play 44 games and recording 4 goals, 16 assists for 20 points, good for a then-career high 0.45 points per game. From that point forward, Hedman never looked back.

2013-PRESENT

In 2013-2014, Hedman played 75 games and recorded 55 points. The following season, Hedman played 59 games and recorded 38 points. His 2015-2016 season was much better. Hedman played in 78 games and recorded 47 points. In the season after that, Hedman played 79 games and recorded 72 points (career-high). In 2017-18, Hedman played 77 games and recorded 63 points, which was enough to win the Norris Trophy for the first time in his career. So far this season, Hedman has played 42 games, with 33 points. He has a Corsi % of 52.9%, and a Fenwick % of 53.7%.

THROUGH THE YEARS

Hedman has gone to the All-Star game once in 2017, but was voted into the 2018 roster, however, due to injuries, was replaced by teammate Brayden Point. He has played in 668 games in his 9 year career, and counting. In that time, he has recorded 89 goals, 308 assists for 397 points, which also leads all defenseman in Lightning franchise history. He has a career CF% of 52.9% and a career FF% of 52.2%. In the playoffs, Hedman has played 82 games, with 7 goals, 41 assists for 48 points, while averaging nearly 25 minutes a game in that span. It’s safe to say Hedman has been pretty good for the Lightning.

all stats from hockey-reference

scouting report from thehockeywriters.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals