Amidst a debate over the need for a bilingual head coach, the Montreal Canadiens say they’ll evaluate the position at the end of the season.
Interim boss Randy Cunneyworth will likely need to work on his French to hold on to the job permanently.
Thanks to the number of moves around the NHL in the past year, there will be no shortage of other candidates available—although only a handful can fulfil the language criteria.
Here’s a closer look at the potential job pool:
Marc Crawford: The veteran NHL coach can tick both boxes the Habs are looking for—he’s able to do interviews in French and brings plenty of experience with more than 1,000 NHL games coached and a Stanley Cup. Crawford was fired by the Dallas Stars in April and will be behind the bench for Canada’s entry at the upcoming Spengler Cup. He learned to speak French fluently after being hired to coach the Quebec Nordiques in 1994.
Bob Hartley: Another experienced coach with a Stanley Cup and Calder Cup on his resume, Hartley’s last NHL job came with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2007. The Franco-Ontarian is currently coaching the Zurich Lions in the Swiss League. Prior to that, he worked as an analyst for French-language television station RDS—making him very familiar with the intense media contingent that covers the team.
Patrick Roy: Can you imagine the reaction? The former Habs goaltender essentially tossed his hat in the ring for the job while speaking to reporters over the weekend. Roy is in his sixth season running the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts—he serves as coach, general manager and part owner—and appears anxious to make the jump to the NHL. The franchise has already made amends with Roy after an ugly split during his playing days and would generate major headlines if it hired the Hall of Famer to coach.
Clement Jodoin: The current head coach of Montreal’s AHL franchise in Hamilton could be in line for a promotion. The native of St-Cesaire, Que., has twice worked as an assistant for the Habs during his career and had plenty of success while spending more than a decade as a head coach in the QMJHL. This is his first season with a Bulldogs team that is off to a slow start. However, his familiarity with the organization and strong coaching background should earn him some consideration. French as a first language doesn’t hurt too.
Michel Therrien: The Habs have already been down this road before having given Therrien his first NHL coaching job in 2000. That tenure lasted parts of three seasons before he eventually moved on to the Pittsburgh Penguins organization—first in the AHL and later in the NHL. More recently, Therrien has worked as a pro scout for the Minnesota Wild. But his first love is coaching and he’s been considered for other openings in recent years.