A thousand times better than before

A thousand times better than before

We’re talking about 36,000 tickets sold in just a few hours. The Videotron Center will be packed as these pretty, barely grown youngsters take on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League finals.

And Halifax will be full.

It’s not brand new. The junior has experienced other glorious hours. Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur and Sidney Crosby filled the ice rinks.

But the beautiful celebrations taking place in Quebec are a strong signal. Junior hockey has made tremendous strides despite scandals and controversy. In fact, even a destroyer of the Quebec junior’s deficits like Enrico Ciccone, ex-Canadiens player, ex-agent for Gilles Lupien and now Liberal MP, recognizes this and knows how to pay tribute to the new reality.

“It’s a thousand times better than it was. The student players are better looked after, the conditions are better and since there will be no more fights next season, there is reason for optimism,” Chico reacted when I reached him yesterday morning.

Another long way

And in the same breath, my old Liberal comrade added that even if he and his mentor Gilles Lupien had waged real media wars against Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL ad æternam commissioner, he deserved the credit he deserves. “We can say what we want about Gilles Courteau, but the progress of studies in the league and the disappearance of fights – it was under his rule that the decisions were made,” Ciccone said.

We talked for a long time. Now that the basics are in place, how can we promote ice hockey among young people in Quebec? And the solution we both arrive at will be difficult to translate to owners running private businesses. Apart from those owned by cities like the Saguenéens or the Drakkar de Baie-Comeau, what are the junior teams?

If we want junior students to graduate from college in two years, if we want coaches in particular to be able to improve the individual qualities of their players, we have to reduce the number of games.

The ideal would be to emulate the NCAA in the United States and play the games on the weekends to allow for more training and study.


A few decades ago I was a strong supporter of the formation of the AAA Collegiate League. Serge Savard, Marc Tardif and Claude Mailhot, the sports commentator, were convinced that student sport would allow players to advance to the National League if they had the talent. Or to assure them of a university degree if they wish.

The times have changed. I no longer believe that Quebec and its educational system are capable of organizing and structuring a hockey path that leads to excellence. You only have to do your research and follow the school programs closely to see that young people aged 17, 18 and 19 are better served by their team than by a high school 5th secondary or a CEGEP. i live it at home

In a junior team, say football, you learn the importance of competition, the desire to win, the bitterness of defeat, and the obligation to work together as a team to achieve a goal. All Remparts and Mooseheads players have learned these lessons over the past few years.

However, is it possible to go one step further? Is it economically feasible to cut ten games per regular season? Could the savings from not traveling during the week offset the loss of income?

Is it time for junior team owners to adopt a revenue sharing scheme? It doesn’t have to be drastic, but could the league powerhouses come to the rescue of less wealthy teams?

These are all questions that one could ask the new Commissioner Mario Cecchini.


About ten years ago, at a dinner with his close friends, Pierre Karl Péladeau wondered what we could do to support and improve the sport of ice hockey in Quebec. Martin Tremblay and others had been thinking aloud about the situation of our hockey.

As the two men sat with 18,000 people celebrating last night, they could tell themselves they were starting to have answers.

It starts with good young players who are well integrated into serious and committed organizations…

A long way has been covered.

There would be one more heavy blow to deal…

A bloody shirt in the museum

Montreal’s Mike Griffin was the third man in the ring during the fight between Canelo Alvarez and John Ryder.

Since there were four belts, we had prepared a very special shirt that we could sew onto the crests of the four federations. WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO.

“Plus a gold scarf to remind you it was Cinco de Mayo. “I felt like a mariachi walking in the ring,” Griffin told me when he called me Sunday night.

And the shirt? Gory when John Ryder broke his nose in the fifth round? Will you keep it as a souvenir, my pretty Irishman?

“I’ve already lost my shirt with the four coats of arms.” The Guadalajara City Museum asked me to do it. It is being placed as a reminder that Canelo Alvarez fought for four belts that night in front of 50,000 people,” Griffin said.

“And your golden scarf?”

– Also in the museum…

Mike Griffin will referee the finals at the Casino de Montreal on June 1st. Should keep his shirt on.

Les eaux seront plus agitees pour le Canadien lan prochain