Jean-François Houle and Laval Rocket Mutually Part Ways After Clarkson Golden Knights Job Opportunity

Belleville Senators v Laval Rocket
Belleville Senators v Laval Rocket / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Jean-François Houle and the Laval Rocket agreed to a multi-year contract extension on May 29th, 2024. The move raised some eyebrows as the Rocket hadn't made the playoffs since the 2021-22 season. He had immediate success, making the third round in his first season, but Houle's greatest strength was his development of prospects. It makes sense that Houle would leave to become head coach of the Clarkson Men's Hockey Team.

Houle enrolled at Clarkson in 1993 as a highly-touted recruit after getting drafted 99th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. He had 25 points in his freshman season and finished his career with 129 points in 143 games. He was a co-captain in his senior season, leading the team to an ECAC regular-season championship and the number-one seed in the NCAA regionals.

He returned to Clarkson after playing to become an assistant coach in 2003. The team won many accolades during his time behind the bench, but his biggest contribution came by recruiting and developing many All-Americans and professional players. The move also brings Houle closer to his son Noah, a lacrosse player at SUNY Potsdam.

What's next for Laval?

The Rocket were already searching for a replacement for Kelly Buchbeger who left to coach a team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. They'll now have to find a replacement for Houle. Martin Laperrière could get the promotion to head coach, but they'll likely look to find a replacement outside the organization.

In a past article, I considered the possibility of Tomas Plekanec rejoining the Canadiens organization now that he is a coach. The possibility of that happening is unlikely, but there are now two coaching positions available to him if he wants them.