The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies finally made official the worst kept secret in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
The Huskies handed over the keys to former UQTR Patriotes coach Gilles Bouchard Tuesday, naming him the team’s new head coach and general manager Tuesday, replacing eleven-year man André Tourigny.
“It’s big shoes to fill, but I don’t back down from a challenge,” Bouchard said at his introductory press conference Tuesday. “I control what I can control. I take it one day at a time.
“I’m a hard worker. I demand that of myself and my players.”
Bouchard coached the Patriotes for two seasons, so not long enough to really see the fruits of his recruiting at UQTR, but he is well known for coaching and managing at the Midget AAA level at l’Académie des Estacades for 17 seasons.
“What was important for the job was to find a coach who understands family, is proud, and has a great work-ethic, and that’s what [Bouchard] has,” Tourigny said. “He’s leaving his stable life and coming here for the challenge. It takes courage.”
Bouchard will just have to add water to his roster when the Huskies open up training camp in August. They are slated to lose Nikita Kucherov to the pros from a team that went all the way to the third round of the playoffs last season. Sven Andrighetto, who may go pro next season or may return for his 20-year-old season, could lead the offense with centerman Jean-Sébastien Dea.
No other players of significance are leaving the roster over the summer, so almost every player who dressed for the Huskies in the 2013 playoffs is slated to return for the 2013-14 season.
Tourigny coached and managed the team for 11 seasons, beginning in 2002. He led the team as far as the 2008 President’s Cup final, and was a part of three World Junior Championship coaching staffs for Team Canada.