Canadiens: Time for A Coaching Change in Laval?

The Rocket are struggling, and it might be time for a new voice.

Syracuse Crunch v Laval Rocket - Game Three
Syracuse Crunch v Laval Rocket - Game Three / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

We’re a good part of the way through both the NHL and AHL seasons, far enough in to start drawing conclusions. In the case of the Canadiens, we can pretty confidently say they are not a playoff team, but also that they are not amongst the worst teams in the league either. The same cannot be said for the Laval Rocket.

The Rocket sit last in the North Division with a 7-13-5 record and a league-worst 105 goals against. And now, with the Rocket coming off a 7-1 loss, you have to wonder if a change might be in order. Kent Hughes and the Canadiens have too much young talent down there to let this continue.

JF Houle has been the Rocket’s head coach now for three seasons, and the Rocket have gotten worse every single year under him. Now they’re in the basement of the AHL, with a path to the playoffs looking less and less likely each game. Of course, in the AHL, it’s not just about on-ice results that matter; it’s about the process, too. But much like the Canadiens had to do with Dom Ducharme a few years ago, we might have a similar situation here.

The longer the losing continues, the more difficult it may be for players to enjoy coming to the rink to hone their craft. The Canadiens don’t want that to happen, not with the many young prospects they have down there. We’ll have to continue to monitor the situation, but my hunch is that the Canadiens are still in “let it play out” mode.

And, it is worth mentioning that the Canadiens are partially to blame for the issues in Laval, to be fair to Houle. The Rocket’s goaltending is not great, with rookie netminder Jakub Dobes and veteran Strauss Mann. Both sport a GAA above 3.50 and sub .900 SV% and are clearly not cut out for the role they’re serving. Meanwhile, the Canadiens have carried three goalies in Montreal, with Cayden Primeau, Laval’s usual starter, staying with the big club.

It took until literally today for a potential solution to present itself, with the Rocket signing Kasimir Kaskisuo to a professional tryout. Kaskisuo has played a fair share in the AHL and is, if nothing else, an option to stabilize a position in need of help.

At the end of the day, you don’t really want to call for the firing of anyone. This is a man’s livelihood, after all, but it is pretty clear that something needs to change. Hopefully, Kaskisou can help, but I suspect there are bigger issues at hand. And if the problem persists, Kent Hughes will have to do something about it. The Canadiens have too much talent down there to let this continue.