Joël Bouchard leaves the Laval Rocket to join the AHL team in San Diego – .

Joël Bouchard leaves the Laval Rocket to join the AHL team in San Diego – .

The head coach has led the Canadiens agricultural team in the AHL to No. 1 in the Canadian division this season with a 23-9-4 record.

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Joël Bouchard moves from Laval to San Diego.

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The Anaheim Ducks announced Friday that Bouchard has been named head coach of the San Diego Gulls, their AHL farm team. Bouchard has spent the last three seasons as head coach of the Laval Rocket, the Canadiens’ agricultural team in the AHL.

The Rocket finished first in the Canadian division this season with a 23-9-4 record and Bouchard was 83-67-24 overall during his time at Laval. Bouchard will replace Kevin Dineen as head coach in San Diego.

“We want to thank Kevin Dineen for everything he’s contributed over the past two seasons,” said Ducks general manager Bob Murray after hiring Bouchard. “He has played a key role in maintaining a winning environment in San Diego, including a difficult season during the pandemic. “

The Gulls are third in the Pacific Division this season with a 26-17-1 record.

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“The opportunity to recruit Joël Bouchard as the head coach of our American Hockey League club was something we couldn’t pass up,” said Murray. “Joel has a solid background in coaching and developing players at the professional, junior and international levels. That’s the main focus for us, and Joël fits the bill perfectly.

Center Jake Evans spent two seasons playing for Bouchard with the Rocket before making the jump to the Canadiens.

“It was so important to my development,” Evans said on Friday. “He will definitely be missed. He’s one of those guys who sees things in his players and pushes them to achieve those points in their careers. So I can’t say enough about how much he has helped me. I just wish him good luck. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

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Bouchard’s contract with the Canadiens expired on July 1 and general manager Marc Bergevin said he was being offered the option of staying at Laval or becoming an assistant coach of the Canadiens under Dominique Ducharme. Bergevin said it was Bouchard’s decision to move on and accept the position in San Diego.

The Canadiens hired Bouchard three years ago, shortly after hiring Ducharme as an assistant coach for the NHL team. After Claude Julien was fired as head coach by the Canadiens this season, Ducharme took over as interim head coach. Alex Burrows, who had been Bouchard’s assistant coach in Laval, was promoted to assistant coach of the Canadiens after Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller were fired the same day.

Prior to joining the Rocket, Bouchard spent seven seasons as general manager of the Armada Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL and also coached the team from 2014 to 2018, posting a 160-80-32 record in his passage behind the bench while qualifying for the President’s Cup final. in 2017 and 2018. Bouchard also served as General Manager of Canada’s National Junior Team for two years, winning a gold at the 2018 World Junior Championships and a silver in 2017.

Bouchard played 11 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman.

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