The Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s embarrassing 9-1 home loss to the Halifax Mooseheads was enough for Titan GM Sylvain Couturier to pull the trigger on a coaching change, dismissing coach Danny Dupont on Sunday.
The Titan fell to 17-25-2-2 this season, enough for 15th place in the 18-team Quebec League, and six points up on a playoff spot.
Dupont replaced Eric Dubois halfway through last season, and had a 33-45-4-2 record in his 84 games with the team. Jean-François David will take over as interim head coach.
Dupont had led a team with decidedly worse talent – their top scorer is 75th overall in the league, and they don’t have a goalie in the top 15 – to a better record than this point last season. Their top two scorers are Matthew Boudreau, playing on his third team this year, and Scott Oke, both 20-year-olds and both started the year with other teams.
The Titan acquired a number of young players for most of their older veterans, with the exception of Boudreau, during the trading period this season. Gone were Adam Chapman, François Godin, Adam Stevens and Robert Pelletier, all QMJHL veterans, for rookies or draft picks.
The team has a talent issue, and that can’t rest on Dupont’s shoulders, or Dubois’, or Ron Choules’. The Titan haven’t made it out of the first round since 2008-09, a span of five years. Since Couturier took over as GM for the first time in 2005 (he was replaced by former owner Léo-Guy Morrissette and kept on as an adviser with a role in day-to-day in 2010 until this past summer), the Titan have gone through seven coaches.
Their most successful was John Chabot, who inherited a ready-made team from Mario Durocher in 2005-06 and brought them to the third round, then the second round the next season.
The Titan are on pace to be roughly equal to their 26-35-5-2 record of last season, where Dupont took over. Dupont guided the team to 16 of those wins in 38 games. When Dupont took over, he had two 20-year-olds, Zach O’Brien and Matthew Bissonnette lead the team in scoring, along with Christophe Lalancette and Patrik Zdrahal. All four of those players are no longer with the team; O’Brien and Bissonnette graduated, with Lalancette traded to Drummondville and Zdrahal sent to Rimouski for Oke.
Dupont's firing comes at a weird time in the Titan's rebuild. If they are trying to win, why did they sell during the trading period? If they are trying to rebuild, why not keep the head coach through to the end of the year, and then get rid of him? Why not let the young Dupont, who paid his dues as an assistant with three QMJHL teams before his first head coaching gig, take the true reins for a full season before he is judged?
Couturier is under contract until 2020, so he won’t be going anywhere, but many questions remain in Bathurst. They have to be directed at the general manager, not the now-departed coach.