Amidst one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Montreal Canadiens will look to a new voice behind the bench as a means of stopping the bleeding. Martin St. Louis was named interim coach, replacing Dominique Ducharme, himself an interim coach last season. While Ducharme’s interim tag was eventually removed this past offseason, he was let go only midway through the first season of a three-year deal. The Canadiens snuck in as the final seed in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and made a Cinderella run to the Final, bowing out in six games to the powerhouse Tampa Bay Lightning. A dream postseason gave way to this season’s nightmare, as the Canadiens are searching for answers while languishing at the very bottom of the NHL standings.
St. Louis comes to the Canadiens with no professional or even junior coaching experience, but his pedigree as an NHL player speaks for itself. He went from being a complete afterthought as an undersized and undrafted player, to a Stanley Cup Champion, league MVP and scoring leader, within only four years of becoming an NHL regular. St. Louis began his career struggling to find his footing with the Calgary Flames, before catching on with the Tampa Bay Lightning and becoming one of the NHL’s brightest stars. He would spend 12 of his 16 NHL seasons in Tampa, eventually becoming the first Lightening player to have his number retired.
St. Louis won an additional scoring title in his third-to-last NHL season at the age of 37, becoming the oldest player to do so. He also captured three Lady Byng Trophies and played in six NHL-All Star games. St. Louis spent the last two seasons of his career with the New York Rangers, sparking the team to an appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. After scoring 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) in 1,134 NHL games, St. Louis was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, his first year of eligibility. With this hire, it seems as if the Canadiens are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle from one of the NHL’s most inspiring former players.