The Gatineau Olympiques relieved Mario Duhamel of his head coaching duties on Monday, January 23 after only 47 games with the organization.
The Olympiques were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and owned a 19-24-4 record that leaves them last in the West Division and 16th overall in the QMJHL standings.
Duhamel was hired in June to replace Benoit Groulx, who left to coach the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
To gas Duhamel with 21 games to go in the regular season has me scratching my head looking for answers.
I understand that losing is not accepted at this level and coaches are the one that pay the price for a team’s poor play and eventual record.
What I don’t understand is that the Piques basically cleaned house at the trade deadline and appear to be going with a youth movement.
What exactly then was Gatineau management expecting from Duhamel and his staff?
In early January, Gatineau traded veteran F Alex Dostie to the Charlottetown Islanders for two players (Mitchell Balmas, Jake Barter) and a pair of high draft picks, in 2018 and 2019.
Dostie had 36 points in 32 games for Gatineau and had been a pillar for the organization before being shipped off to Charlottetown.j
Just before Christmas, the Islanders and Olympiques made a big splash around the ‘Q’ with a seven-player blockbuster trade.
The Olympiques immediately became younger when they acquired Marc-Olivier Alain, a 2000 birth year, Shawn Boudrias and Carl Gervais, both 99’s. Gatineau also picked up Will Thompson (97).
Charlottetown bolstered their club with the additions of G Mark Grametbauer (98), Nicolas Meloche (97) and Jean-Sébastien Taillefer (97).
The Olympiques also moved two other regulars, F Austin Eastman to Victoriaville for Jacob Lapierre (98), and F Charles-Olivier Ouimet (98) to Drummondville for an eighth round pick in 2017.
I realize that Gatineau has struggled for most of the season, but why fire the coach after changing the complexion of his team since December?
You would assume that management must have known what the team was going to look like after making the trades, but apparently not, because the Piques have gone 2-7 since the January 6 trade deadline.
My argument is that Gatineau is clearly worse now than they were before those trades.
Maybe they will be better next year, maybe not.
But the bottom line is that Mario Duhamel did not win with the pre- or post-trade deadline Gatineau Olympiques and it cost him his job.
Duhamel will be replaced by assistant coach Eric Landry, a 42-year-old Gatineau native who has been with the Olympiques since 2013.
The Olympiques GM Marcel Patenaude sent out this official statement to the media.
“As you know this organization has high standard performance. This tradition that we want to maintain brings us, after reflection, to make a change in our staff. We are aware that the success or failure of an organization depends on a combination of many factors. This being said, this decision, which is not pleasant to make aims to re-launch the team. On behalf of myself and the organization, we would like to thank Mario Duhamel for his dedication and involvement in the Olympics and wish him the best of luck.”
Landry has been with the organization as an assistant coach for the last five years and is a very knowledgeable hockey mind.
He played 68 games in the NHL with the Calgary Flames (1997-1999) and Montreal Canadiens (2000-2002).
“Eric Landry knows the organization perfectly, and we feel that his knowledge and career path make him a logical choice. I want to thank him and welcome him as head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques,” said Patenaude.
I agree 100% with Patenaude about his new hire but let’s see how much time he is given to right the Olympiques ship.
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