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Kelly Buchberger hired as an assistant coach with Laval Rocket

Kelly Buchberger hired as an assistant coach with Laval Rocket
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Buchberger’s hiring comes two days after the Canadiens announced that Jean-François Houle had been hired as the new head coach of their top farm team, replacing Joël Bouchard.

Houle and Buchberger both signed three-year contracts.

The 54-year-old Buchberger played 17 seasons in the NHL as forward with the Edmonton Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1,182 career regular-season games he had 105-204-309 totals and 2,297 penalty minutes. He won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers, in 1987 and 1990.

Buchberger was head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Before that he had been head coach of the AHL’s Springfield Falcons for one season, followed by six seasons as an assistant coach with the Oilers.

The 46-year-old Houle spent the last six seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Before that, he spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Cornell University and was also a head coach for five seasons in the QMJHL with the Lewiston MAINEiacs and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, followed by one season as head coach with Bakersfield in the ECHL.

“I think he’s a really good hire from us,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Thursday when asked about Houle. “He’s got a lot of experience through the Q, through American Hockey League. It’s the growth of our young players … it’s an important job. We like what he brings. His enthusiasm, his teaching, his approach to the players, dealing with younger players. I think he’s going to be a really good asset for the Montreal Canadiens.”

Houle is the son of former Canadiens player and GM Réjean Houle.

Bergevin said that assistant GM Scott Mellanby oversaw the hiring of Houle.

“I have a lot of faith in Scott Mellanby as far as hockey knowledge and he’s been a big help for me not only with Laval but for the Montreal Canadiens,” Bergevin said.

Bouchard left Laval after three seasons behind the Rocket bench to become head coach of the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.
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