MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens, mired in a free fall all season, have fired Dominique Ducharme and named Hall of Fame forward Martin St. Louis as interim head coach.
Ducharme, 48, was relieved of his duties on Wednesday as Montreal languished in the league basement at 8-30-7.
St. Louis, who ended a stellar playing career in 2015, has no NHL coaching experience but was a consultant with the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018-19 season.
“We are very pleased to welcome Martin to the Canadiens organization,” general manager Kent Hughes said in a statement. “Not only are we adding an excellent hockey player, but with Martin, we are bringing in a proven winner and a man whose competitive qualities are recognized by all who have crossed his path.”
St. Louis joins the Canadiens after a stellar 16-season NHL career that saw him tally 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) in 1,134 games with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers.
The 46-year-old from Laval, Que., won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2004 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
At just five-foot-eight, St. Louis loomed large as a player. He played in seven All-Star Games, won the Art Ross Trophy twice as the league’s top scorer and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy three times, as well as the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The Canadiens went 23-46-14 in 83 regular-season games under Ducharme — and 13-6 in the playoffs, reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993.
His dismissal comes following a 7-1 rout of the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.
“Nobody likes to lose,” Ducharme said after the game. “The intentions of the guys are there. In the game there are times when you need to bounce back and we need to do a better job of that.
In a statement, Hughes thanked Ducharme for his work with the club.
“At this stage of the season we felt it was in the interest of the club to make a change,” the chief executive said.
Saint-Louis has a lot of work to do in Montreal.
The Habs have allowed 33 goals in their last five outings and lost seven in a row, including two overtime losses.