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Cole Caufield: Dominique Ducharme explains his poor start to the 2021-2022 season
Many people resent Dominique Ducharme for the way Cole Caufield played in his first full NHL season. In 2021-2022, Caufield started the season with one goal in 30 games under Ducharme.

Then, with Martin St-Louis, we’re talking 22 goals in 37 games. It was a drastic change.

In an interview with Tony Marinaro for the Sick Podcast, the former Montreal Canadiens coach, now an assistant with the Vegas Golden Knights, opened up on the subject.

The result is available here.

First and foremost, Caufield has already scored a bit under Ducharme. In the short season of 2021, Caufield scored four times in 10 games, including twice in overtime.

In the playoffs, he added four goals in 20 games. He also collected eight assists, and when he played, he was good.

Listening to the coach talk, one senses that the fact that Caufield didn’t really have a summer break after a full season (31 games) in college plus his 32 games in the pros afterwards worked against him.

It’s a recurring theme with Ducharme, but he’s right nonetheless.

The coach had originally brought him to the NHL, but circumstances worked against him. And at a certain point, it’s a wheel that turns, and the confidence isn’t there at all.

Would Ducharme have liked more goals? Of course he would have. That said, at a certain point, he felt that things were going to get better. But when? When he returned home after contracting COVID-19.

I find that seeing Caufield catch COVID-19 in the U.S., preventing him from returning to Canada for a few days, is an event that’s not talked about enough.

He’s been spending time with his family in Wisconsin (with Armia, also stricken by the virus), training at his university and recharging his batteries.

When he came back, I remember he had a good game… but couldn’t find the back of the net. And Ducharme remembers it too, because it was his last game in Montreal.

And then St-Louis came along and everything changed.

Ducharme considers MSL to be doing a good job, and although he would have liked to see Caufield break through under him, it’s easy to see why the man who is now paid like a top scorer (and rightly so) played the way he did.

Ducharme recounts that at Guy Lafleur’s funeral, the two chatted and the coach said he was pleased with his success.

He would have liked Caufield, who is gearing up for another big season in 23-24 after undergoing surgery in recent months, to have had such success a little earlier in his career, but his explanations stand up.

A lot of people will never accept it, and that’s fine, but I honestly think it makes sense.


– Asked what he would have changed in 2021-2022 when things were going badly, Ducharme said he would have liked to bring more fun to the arena. He would have liked his players to be more relaxed… but everyone wanted to win.

– In Vegas, the Quebecer will be in charge of the power play, the forwards and scouting the Knights’ next opponents.

– Ducharme was asked about the Hockey Canada situation, but he knows nothing. He’ll learn all about it along with the others when the results of the investigation are revealed.

– For those interested: Ducharme was affected by Jeff Petry’s comments against his system of play.

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