Joel Bouchard will leave the Laval Rocket, take on a new challenge with the San Diego Gulls

Laval Rocket's head coach Joel Bouchard looks on from the bench during first period AHL hockey action against the Manitoba Moose in Montreal, Saturday, February 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Joel Bouchard has decided to take on a new challenge. After three years at the helm of the Laval Rocket, he has accepted the position of head coach of the San Diego Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks' AHL feeder club.

Bouchard succeeds Kevin Dineen and becomes the third head coach in Gulls history.

Bouchard, 47, guided the Rocket to first in the Canadian Section and second in the AHL with a 23-9-4 record in 2020-21.

"The opportunity to attract Joel Bouchard as head coach of our AHL club was something we couldn't pass up," said Ducks vice president and general manager Bob Murray. "Joel has a strong background in coaching and developing players at the professional, junior and international levels. This is a priority for us and Joel fits the bill perfectly."

Bouchard, a Montreal native, spent seven seasons (2011 to 2018) as general manager of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, while serving as head coach from 2014 to 2018.

"Thank you Joel. For all you have done in the community, for the team and for Laval. Good luck in San Diego,'' the Rocket tweeted.

Merci Joël. Pour tout ce que tu as fait dans la communauté, pour l'équipe et pour Laval. Bonne chance à San Diego.

Thank you, Joël. For everything that you did in the community, for the team and for Laval. Good luck in San Diego. pic.twitter.com/5EuVUX7WxV

— Rocket de Laval (@RocketLaval) July 9, 2021

In 272 games behind the Armada bench, he compiled a 160-80-32 record, including back-to-back appearances in the President Cup Finals in 2017 and 2018. He also served as an assistant coach with the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL from 2008 to 2011 before the franchise moved to Blainville-Boisbriand in 2011.

Bouchard was also the general manager of the National Junior Team for two years, assembling a team that won a gold medal at the World Junior Championship in 2018 and a silver medal in 2017.

A sixth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 1992 draft, the defenseman played 364 career games (22-53 - 75 points) in the NHL with the Flames, Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 9, 2021.

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