1705715304 Quebec has lost a hockey monument

Quebec has lost a hockey monument

On January 5th, an immortal, Gaston Marcotte, was given medical euthanasia. He was 89 years old. He traveled to Quebec quietly, completely in control, with the music of Frank Sinatra.

The older ones know him. For the others, less so. So that was Gaston Marcotte, who I have spoken to regularly over the last few years. I wrote this column after a good discussion with Dany Bernard, a sports psychology doctor.

For him, Gaston Marcotte was a second father. He was her role model and mentor for 35 years.

Gaston Marcotte was called one of the “Doctors of Ice Hockey” in Quebec, especially along with Charles Thiffault, who was an assistant coach with the Nordiques, the Rangers and of course the Canadian.

Gaston Marcotte is the one who made ice hockey French. Most of the terms we use today, such as “slap shot”, “sudden stop”, “pivot”, “backhand shot”, came from him.

The series of the century

In 1972, during the Century Series, it was he who said live on television that the USSR should not be considered weak because Canada would be in trouble.

He was picked up by everyone, Dany Bernard recalls mockingly.

It was he who revolutionized hockey teaching. In the '60s you either had it or you didn't. Hockey was innate.

When the USSR landed during the Century Series, it was clear to everyone that our practices in Canada were not as good and that hockey could be learned much better.

But Gaston Marcotte had already begun this work. While studying for his master's degree at the University of Michigan, he traveled to the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Sweden to understand how ice hockey was taught and to introduce that way of doing things here.

Gaston Marcotte in his office at PEPS at Laval University in 2017.

In 1974, two years after the century series, Gaston Marcotte had the opportunity to travel to the USSR. From left to right: Charles Thiffault, Georges Larivière, Christian Pelchat, Gaston Marcotte, Claude Chapleau and Alexander Yakushev from the “Red Army” team. . 1974 COURTESY PHOTO / LES ARCHIVES / LE JOURNAL DE QUEBEC Archive photo

He bought two balls in Sweden to measure the VO2 Max of hockey players. Back then, no one in our country thought of combining science and ice hockey.

Hockey lessons

Gaston Marcotte was the one who wrote the first academic books on hockey instruction. To analyze technical gestures, analyze and develop tools for progression from beginner to elite player.

As an advisor to the Nordiques, he was the one who helped Peter Stastny improve his skating during training camp, telling him, “A little problem, right?”

Angry but curious, Stastny went to work on a very technical element with Gaston Marcotte in a corner of the rink and the problem was solved.

He also worked as a TV analyst for Nordiques games. And it was he who was behind the creation of the Quebec Ice Hockey Federation.

Gaston Marcotte is also the first director of PEPS at Laval University. This megaconstruction frightened many taxpayers as they saw it as a potential white elephant that would not be as useful.

The brilliant but controversial idea to ensure this doesn't happen came from Gaston Marcotte: opening the PEPS to the entire population. Since its opening, the infrastructure has been extremely popular and, above all, an essential piece of equipment for physical health in Quebec.

He taught at the university for 40 years, led the founding of Sports Québec and was inducted into the Quebec Hockey Hall of Fame.

In short, Quebec just lost a man.


My father was one of his great admirers, having known him at Laval University. So I've always thought about Gaston Marcotte's work for ice hockey in Quebec.

I also had a few conversations with Mr. Marcotte, in his somewhat messy office at PEPS (as you can see in the photo).

Three years ago, at the age of 86, he was still there often for his research and educational projects. Just over a year ago, Gaston Marcotte sent me opinion articles to be published in Le Journal.

He was passionate, he never wanted to stop. He sent me dozens of them, some of which we published. That impressed me.

Unfortunately, his last crusade received less attention. He sounded the alarm so that human values ​​become the basis of the education system.

In other words, instead of training good accountants, good lawyers and good doctors, we must first train good people.

In his opinion, society will have fewer problems if good people are first trained and then specialized.

Gaston Marcotte in his office at PEPS at Laval University in 2017.

Archive photo

It took hours of conversation with him until I fully understood everything.

And that was kind of the problem. He failed to publicize it as much as he would have liked and wrote in a letter he sent to me on December 9, 2022: “My days are now numbered […]I simply wasted four years of my energy convincing in vain.”

I don't agree with him. The teaching of human values ​​is becoming increasingly important in education and sport.

I think that Mr. Marcotte, as he did throughout his life, did exactly the right thing.

And I fear there won't be as many official honors as he deserves in the coming days. Because Mr. Marcotte, as friendly as he was, didn't always make friends. He could be very tough on the government or the sports community if certain decisions worried him. When it came to the quality of education, he didn't care about good relationships, his image, or his perceptions. He said what he had to say, even if it could be abrupt. He's done it his whole life.