Ducharme will return to coach the Canadiens in Game 3 of the Cup final
TAMPA – The Montreal Canadiens expect coach Dominique Ducharme to return for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday, a huge boost on their return home after losing the first two games of the Top 7 series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19 on June 18 and had to be quarantined for 14 days. The earliest he could return is Game 3 at the Bell Center (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).
“I think that to my knowledge he will be back in the building tomorrow with the team and ready to go as he was just before leaving,” assistant Luke Richardson said Thursday before the Canadiens do not fly to Montreal.
That Ducharme’s absence wasn’t a bigger story is a credit to Richardson, who has been the coach for the past two weeks, and it shows how we’ve learned to take so many time in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Or maybe it just shows how insensitive we have become to all disturbances.
Health and safety are most important, of course, for Ducharme and everyone around him.
But it’s the most important time of year in the NHL, the biggest scene in the sport of hockey, some of the most meaningful moments in the careers of everyone involved, and the Canadiens haven’t had their chance. coach.
Ducharme missed the last four games of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, when the Canadiens knocked down the Vegas Golden Knights, and the first two games of the Cup final. How would you feel sitting at home, isolated, watching TV when your team competes without you?
“I personally know it would be killing you inside to be able to miss the greatest of all balls, and it’s the Stanley Cup final,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “… It’s a moment that you should enjoy. For him, having a team that is in the final and not being a part of it, I feel it for him, even though he is the competition.
“You want the team to have their full roster and coaching staff. You really want guys to be able to go through this and that someday they say to their kids, “Hey, I coached the Stanley Cup final.” And so he’s going to have this opportunity, but I’m sure that it hasn’t been a fun few weeks for him. “
It also hurt Montreal from a hockey point of view.
There’s a reason the Canadiens promoted Ducharme to replace Claude Julien on February 24. They felt he was the best man for the job, at least on an interim basis.
And he got them into the Stanley Cup playoffs, made them believe they belonged, and had them play a style that took out the Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Golden Knights.
Think about it: Richardson, technically, was the Canadiens’ interim coach.
Ducharme has always been involved, speaking to Richardson via text, phone and video conference and joining meetings via video conference. Richardson said he wasn’t chatty on the phone and Ducharme got right to the point, so their interactions tended to be brief. Most of the time, they are for planning purposes.
“We’re kind of on a roll at this time of year, so I think Dom confides that I’m handling things the way he likes it, and we keep in constant contact to make sure the plan is in order with which he would like too, “said Richardson.” There isn’t really a specific time of day that we speak or how many times. I think it was done when needed and between really quick and short periods, and it’s kind of normal the way we talk and discuss things between periods, because things move fast. “
There is no substitute for being there, however, to talk to players between periods, to handle games behind the bench. The Canadiens will have the last line-up at home.
“Obviously Luke did a terrific job with that as well, but Dom talks a lot between periods of in-game adjustments and things that will help us get through the next period,” he said. Eric Staal mentionned. “Sometimes at a distance it’s a little more difficult so he will be active with us. It’s good for us so I can’t wait to find him.”
Richardson was asked if Ducharme’s return from quarantine would be like the return of a star player from injury. He didn’t hesitate.
“Yes, definitely,” Richardson said. “We’ve stayed in touch and had a few Zoom meetings, but it’s not the same. Another guy on the bench is definitely going to be of help, especially Dom.
“He’s a smart coach and he played really well with this team so a new sight and a new voice there to add to what he saw us do in the first two games is going to be a plus for us. , and just some more excitement coming home, so we look forward to it. “