Ducks hire Joel Bouchard as AHL head coach
The Anaheim Ducks announced a new AHL coach, hiring Joel Bouchard to lead the San Diego Gulls. Bouchard replaces the outgoing Kevin Dineen, who took over as Gulls head coach when Dallas Eakins was promoted to the NHL club. Ducks GM Bob Murray released a statement on the change:
"We want to thank Kevin Dineen for all he contributed the last two seasons. He was key in maintaining a winning environment in San Diego, including a difficult season during the pandemic.
"The opportunity to bring in Joel Bouchard as head coach of our American Hockey League club was something that we could not pass up. Joel has a strong track record coaching and developing players at the professional, junior and international level. This is the primary focus for us, and Joel fits the bill perfectly."
Bouchard’s path to the NHL was blocked in Montreal, where he served as head coach of the Laval Rocket the last three years. Dominique Ducharme took over the Canadiens midseason and led them to the Stanley Cup Final, and assistants Luke Richardson and Alexandre Burrows look like potential future head coaches. (In fact, Eric Engels of Sportsnet suggests that Burrows could even be the next head coach of the Rocket.)
That path isn’t so crowded in the Ducks organization given how little success Eakins has had so far. The Ducks are 46-63-18 under his watch, which could lead to a potential opportunity for a minor league coach like Bouchard at some point. The 47-year-old was the head coach of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL for four seasons before arriving in Laval, taking the junior squad to the league championship twice in a row (but losing both). A veteran of 364 NHL games as a player, Bouchard is still waiting for his first opportunity as a coach at that level.