Dominic Ducharm | “Create his job”

Martin St. Louis. Eric Perrin. Dominic Ducharme. In our immediate neighbors to the south, these three names will be forever related. From 1993 to 1995, the three Quebecers made it rain and sparkle with the University of Vermont Catamountes.


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The coach of the team at the time, Mike Gilligan, remembers her very well.

“I didn’t want to anger the people of Quebec by imposing a structure on them! In any case, these three know far more than me what to do in the area of ​​attack,” Gilligan recalls, over the phone.

However, these three players are only associated with Vermont. Perrin and St. Louis continued their playing career in the NHL, until they played the 2006-2007 season together at Tampa Bay. Perrin has played 245 matches in the NHL, in addition to spending 13 seasons in Liiga, the Finnish Premier League. St. Louis played in the NHL until the age of 39. To learn more about his career, read the Hockey Hall of Fame billboard.

Perrin and St. Louis have made a good living as players. Ducharme excelled at the university level, but without having the skills of skiing to prove himself in good professional leagues. But he had other qualities.

“He knew his wing wasn’t going to be as good as him, but he had to make them better. In the confrontations, he showed the players where to put themselves, because he was very smart. He was like another coach to me,” Gilligan continues.

Photo provided by the University of Vermont

Dominic Ducharme with University of Vermont Catamount

These qualities made it so that, after 25 years, Ducharme now holds one of the most prominent positions in the NHL: that of coach of the Montreal Canadiens. To achieve this, he had to return to his origins: Juliet.

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***

Now, 73 years old, Laurent de Blois has known the Ducharme family for a long time.

“Dominic’s dad was a technician, he came to fix my video, and that was before VHS! Laughs. I knew the daddy first of all because Dominic’s brother, Stefan, was playing hockey with my son. So we were sitting in the stands together.”

Years later, De Blois crossed again with Ducharmes. As Vice Principal of Barthelemy-Juliet High School, he must meet Dominic Ducharme for a teaching position … in English! “He was really good, he studied in Vermont, and it wasn’t always easy to find qualified English teachers on the school board,” explains Laurent de Blois, brother of former player Lucien de Blois.

I remember our first encounter, to hire him. I really liked his dad, maybe that was just a little warm for me! But when I spoke to him, I discovered again his father’s personality, that calm.

Laurent de Blois

Ducharme is not an English teacher, however, and he graduated from the University of Vermont in Physical Education. To obtain the equivalence he went to the University of Quebec at Trois-Riviere (UQTR) for two seasons.

Fortunately, Barthélemy-Joliette offered a hockey focus for its physical education classes. It’s basically hockey lessons, not a real team. There are no matches, and the players have their “real” civilian team. So skaters are of all calibers, from single letter to double letter.

When the program director, Benoît Picard, wants to go teach at CEGEP, Ducharme is responsible for coaching that team. At the same time, the experience acts as an internship.

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“The coaching supervisor came to see him during the session and said to me, ‘It’s funny, I see him in training, this guy,’” says Benoit Picard. The way Dominic was running it, he had to see Fitness Trainer in it ! ”

Laurent de Blois nodded. “He trained in physical education, and he wanted to study, but inside of him, I think he always had him Training. »

***

So how does one do Fitness Trainer Who wants Coach Is it going towards his goals? By creating a team!

Alongside his teaching work, Ducharme embarked on an ambitious project: creating a junior team of AAA. With an old friend, Stéphane Desroches, he founded Action de Joliette in 2004.

Photo provided by Stephan Darwish

Dominique Ducharme with Action de Joliette

“I was 26, 27, Dom was 29 or 30. We didn’t want to invest all of our money there!” Says Desroch, who later became General Manager of Drummondville Voltages.

“You have to find sponsors, have a business plan, get employed, find pensions. Everything has touched from the start: finances, logistics, hockey.”

Ducharme previously held an assistant position at UQTR, as well as a player and coach role in Anglet, France. But for the first time, he became a true coach, and little by little the main lines of his philosophy appeared.

With its employees: a form of collegiality. “In meetings, he will always ask others for their opinions before a decision is made. Sometimes he will keep your idea; other times, no. But it never was. One man show », Desroches explains.

With his players: clear communication. “It’s always crystal clear. Dhoom, one glance, and you want to hit the ground! Maybe you saw him raise his voice four or five times. The players loved working with him because he’s not a cave,” he says, Desroch continues.

This is without forgetting the duty to pay attention to every player, regardless of his status. “In one camp, one of the coaches said, ‘We don’t care about this guy,’” says Desroch. Either way, we will cut it. ”Dom did not want to know anything. He said,“ He has the right to know our plans for him and he has the right to improve. ”

It is a difficult schedule, however, leading a small AAA team on the one hand, and a teaching job on the other.

“He’s passionate,” says Benoit Picard, “and he can spend 100 hours a week on it.” With work, he built everything himself. He created his job! ”

***

After four seasons at the helm of the event, marked by the Fred Page Cup invasion, Ducharme set foot in QMJHL. In 2008, he became assistant to Pascal Vincent in Montreal Junior. Three years later, Halifax hired Moss Heads as head coach. In his first three seasons, he led the Mooseheads to two semi-final appearances and a Memorial Cup victory.

Photo provided by Stephan Darwish

The capture of the Fred Page Cup 2006

After five years in Halifax, he left office to be closer to his family. Immediately, Drummondville Voltigeurs asked him for the general manager position.

“But he showed up for the interview for the position of general manager and head coach!” Eric Ferrer, head of Voltigeurs, recalls. “He arrived very well prepared, and he knew our entire structure. He had close to his structure, everyone’s roles, executive vice president, and chief recruiter.

“In the hiring process, many candidates will come up and say,“ You know me, if you think I’m your man, call me. ”So, it’s not uncommon to see such a setup. Most of the time people come to talk about themselves. But he’s come to talk about his plan. ”

During his stay in Drummondville he added to his CV, winning the gold medal at the World Junior Championships. In short, as things go, it becomes clear that his days at QMJHL are numbered.

“It was clear that he wanted to get into hockey,” says Eric Ferrer. And it’s true, it’s part of our mission as kids, both for players and for CoachesTo help ambitious owners. Finally, he left a year earlier than expected. The Canadian offer cannot be missed. ”

***

After two years as Claude Julian’s assistant, he was dumped here in the middle of an already insane season in the role of the Canadian coach. He may not have forgotten the principles mentioned above, the principles that guided him as a player and then as a coach.

At his press conference last Thursday, the morning of his first match, he said he had “rules, but no system.” [Il veut] The players are free to express themselves when they attack. ”He was also in Vermont.

What did Mark Bergivin say when commenting on Ducharme’s appointment as head coach on Wednesday? Dominic is also a good communicator. That’s what the players need. And Jake Evans, Saturday morning: “Dom talks a lot, I think he’s spoken to everyone twice so far. ”

When asked about the topic on the same day, Ducharme explained that his goal is to “talk to 24 players every day. Sometimes he just asks about your condition and it takes 5 or 10 seconds. Sometimes it comes down to the details.” As he did when he said the player who is you He would have been circumcised. “[vait] Also the right to improvement. ”

It remains to be seen now whether the story will end with a hero, as in the other leagues he has worked in.

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