GATINEAU, Que. - The Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that Mario Richer has resigned as head coach of the team effective immediately.
Richer had been an assistant with the Olympiques under Benoit Groulx for parts of four seasons before being handed the head-coaching duties in late August after Groulx took the head coaching job with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
The Olympiques got off to a good start under Richer but have since lost 10 straight and are 5-13-2 in the Western Division.
Former NHL player Jerome Dupont was introduced as the team's new head coach at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Robert Guertin Arena, home of the Olympiques.
"The organization has an incredible history of winning and doing things the right way, so it wasn't a difficult decision," Dupont said when Olympiques governor Charlie Henry called and offered him the job Monday night.
For the past five seasons Dupont had been the coach of the Aurora Tigers in the Ontario Junior A Hockey League and won a national championship with the team in 2007. He was also the coach of the Tigers several years earlier but took a hiatus to coach his son through minor hockey.
"It is a big change but it's not as big as it could have been," said Dupont. "I wanted this for the last year or so... I had to work a couple things out but it happened pretty quickly."
After returning from a three-game road trip in the Maritimes in which they went 0-3 and had their losing streak reach 10 games, Richer met with Henry and Olympiques co-owner Alain Sear to announce his decision to step down. Richer, who was not present at the press conference, will remain with the Olympiques in a yet to be determined capacity.
"He said he wasn't well," Henry said of Richer. "It wasn't because of the 10 losses, he said he was exhausted by the amount of work and he didn't think he could keep on doing the task."
Dupont played 214 games over parts of six seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks and Toronto Maple Leafs. He had seven goals, 29 assists and 468 minutes in penalties.
"It's a challenge but it's an exciting challenge," Dupont said. "I think the infrastructure is in place, the personnel is good and I think it's a question of getting a little more out of them and it's about a commitment to excellence.
"We need to change the attitude real quickly. We'll be on the ice tomorrow morning and crack the whip; I'm looking forward to it."
Claude Bouchard, who Richer hired as his assistant, will remain as an assistant to Dupont.
The Olympiques' next game is Friday night when they host the Montreal Junior, formerly the St. John's Fog Devils.