Dominic Ducharme may be his first experience as a professional coach, but in the junior ranks, he has had a successful career.
The new Canadian interim chauffeur is already part of a select group of five coaches that have marked Canadian junior hockey. The common denominator between them: They are the only five to win the Memorial Cup and gold medal in the World Junior Championships as head coach. RDS Fellow Stefan LeRoux was the one who published the statistics.
In 2012-2013, Ducharme led the Halifax Mooseheads to the President’s Cup and then the Memorial Cup.
In the 2017-2018 season, on his second attempt as head coach of Junior Canada, he led his team to the gold medal.
These two championships are the highlights of the training process that began in 2002-2003 with the National Team at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières. He then led Action de Joliette, at AAA Junior, before becoming Montreal Junior’s assistant coach for three seasons.
In 2011-2012, he became the coach of Mooseheads, a position he held for five seasons. The team won nine playoff rounds in the first four seasons, before being excluded from the playoffs the last time, which was the start of the team’s rejuvenation cycle.
Ducharme then led the Drummondville Voltages for two seasons, leading the team to the second round of qualifiers in its second year.
He served as Claude Julian’s assistant since 2018.
It remains to be seen if Ducharme will fare more success in the NHL than his four teammates who have also won the Memorial Cup and Gold at World Juniors. The four coaches involved are Terry Simpson, Don Hay, Brent Suter and Dale Hunter.
Simpson led the New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets (first draft) in the 1980s and 1990s, and his team competed in the playoffs three times in five seasons they completed They only won one Qualifying Round.
Hay had two spells in the NHL. He was the one who led the Phoenix Coyotes in 1996-1997, their first season in Arizona. He stayed there only for this season and the team was eliminated in the first round. Thereafter, he was hired by Flames for the 2000-2001 season, but was fired after 68 matches.
Sutter captained the New Jersey Devils from 2007 to 2009, leading the team to 99 and 106 points this season, but each time they lost in the first round. He then coached Calgary Flames for three seasons, from 2009 to 2012. The team missed the qualifiers three times.
Finally, Hunter was called to the Washington Capitals midway through the 2011-2012 campaign. The team went 30-23-7 from recruitment, and reached the second round of the playoffs. However, he chose to return to lead the London Knights in the Ontario Junior League.
Note, however, that Simpson, Sutter and Hunter all had a coaching position upon their arrival on the NHL. Hay spent a season as an assistant before he was promoted.
In short, success in the junior ranks does not necessarily lead to success in the NHL, at least for now. This will be Ducharme’s challenge.