Dominique Ducharme was officially named the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday after leading the club on an electric playoff run all the way to the Stanley Cup final.
The Habs announced that Ducharme has agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, removing the “interim” qualifier that’s been attached to his title since he took over from the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 24.
“I always believe that when you do good things, good things happen to you,” Ducharme, 48, said in a news conference Tuesday after the team’s announcement.
“I have that belief that if we do things right – if we live the right way, if we commit like we should commit – at one point, you’ll get rewarded.”
Montreal managed a 15-16-7 record under Ducharme to finish the regular season and were the lowest-ranked team to qualify for the playoffs. They couldn’t get any traction under the interim coach thanks to a combination of new systems, inconsistent play, a COVID-19 shutdown, key injuries and a condensed calendar.
Then, the Canadiens caught fire in the post-season.
They came from 3-1 down to beat the favoured Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round, then swept Winnipeg in the North Division final.
They then knocked off the Vegas Golden Knights in six games in the semi-final before losing in five to defending champion Tampa Bay in the Cup final.
Ducharme watched much of the final two rounds from isolation at home after contracting COVID-19 in June, but returned to the bench in the final.
“Even though we had some hard times and it was not easy, I still remain confident in the group,” he said Tuesday.
Ducharme joined the Canadiens’ coaching staff on April 27, 2018. The native of Joliette, Que., previously spent 10 seasons coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
He led the Halifax Mooseheads to QMJHL and Memorial Cup titles in 2012-13, earning the Canadian Hockey League’s Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award in the process.
He coached Canada to a gold medal at the 2018 world junior championship, and a silver the year prior.
Ducharme must now turn his attention to the future as the Canadiens look to carry their momentum over an uncharacteristically short postseason into the 2021-22 campaign.