After the cancellation of the matches remaining in the regular schedule, it seems more and more obvious as the playoffs of the League the Quebec major junior hockey (QMJHL) are in danger. If the President’s cup is not handed out for the first time since its creation, in 1969, the scenario will be catastrophic for the teams that have bet big to remove the top honors.
Talk to the Saguenéens of Chicoutimi, to the Wildcats of Moncton, the Océanic of Rimouski and the Eagles of Cape-Breton. First in Canada before the forced break, the Phoenix of Sherbrooke could never see his work succeed, but in contrast to the other four formations, the troop of Stéphane Julien will still be dangerous in 2020-2021.
However, the co-owner and general manager of the Phoenix, Jocelyn Thibault, has been struggling currently to see the glass half full since his team had chances to reach the final of the series because of the format playoff. Sherbrooke has compiled a record of 51-8-3-1 in the regular season.
“The reality has not hit yet. I’m really sad and I have mixed feelings. You always want to be safe and we want to protect the whole world. I’m a warrior and I want to do my part as a citizen and as a corporate citizen, but I’m torn “, said the former goalkeeper in a telephone interview with the Journal.
The latter must also manage the Complex sportif Thibault GM of Sherbrooke, of which he is the big boss, in this time of crisis so that the government has ordered the closure of all the sports facilities.
Chicoutimi crosses fingers
Chicoutimi, where the last championship playoff dates back to 1994, the coach and general manager Yanick Jean has made every effort in the last period of trade to curb this shortage through the acquisition of several key players.
The frenzy has taken hold of the Kingdom in the second half of the campaign, while the organization has recorded significant increases in attendance at the Centre Georges-Vézina, and the results on the ice have been at the rendezvous. Gold, John and his men could well be content to imagine what they would have been able to accomplish without the global crisis. The reconstruction could be long and painful.
“Sincerely, this is not an easy situation and we do not control what is happening. There is no positive side, but we try to remain optimistic. If we said that we start again in a month, we could prepare accordingly, but it is the most difficult thing is to stay motivated in all of this while training, ” admitted the captain of the Sags, Rafael Harvey-Pinard.
A native of Arvida, he knows that expectations are high among the general population, but the objectives set at the beginning of the season now seem so far away.
“This would be a big disappointment. The Saguenay, one intends to speak about and people get bored of hockey. We keep hope, ” he added, speaking of the cancellation potential to the tournament in spring.
Groulx : this is the last opportunity missed it ?
Acquired of the Mooseheads by the Wild-cats to help with the training of New Brunswick to snatch the big trophy for the first time since 2010, the attacker Benoit Olivier Groulx thought his round of feasting had come.
After having experienced a defeat in the final of the President’s Cup and Memorial Cup, Groulx said he was optimistic about the chances of success of the Wildcats, who have won 16 games in a row. This was before the threat of the COVID-19.
“I was really excited about our route, and we were confident for the playoffs, and paf !, the season is suspended […] After having lost the cup twice in the past year, it was my last chance, it really is heartbreaking if it does not start again] “, let go of the hope of the Ducks of Anaheim at the end of the wire.
Playoffs: teams retain a slim hope
The players and the leaders are ready to show a great deal of flexibility to save the series.
Round-robin tournament between a number of teams limited, series the best of three or five matches, the final between the two champions of the conference, the potential scenarios are many. But the pace of changing things since the beginning of the pandemic, what are the real chances that one of these happen ?
“I don’t want to assume what is not effective. We realize how the sport is central in our lives and how important it is for the balance of our society. At the same time, when we speak, it is not an essential service, ” recalled the driver and general manager of the Oceanic, Serge Beausoleil, on Wednesday.
While recalling that the security of the players is essential, Jocelyn Thibault would be the first to say yes to a proposal that the President’s cup out of his chest.
“Any form of recovery once the risks are acceptable or correct, it will take […] We keep hope that something happens eventually, but there are so many unknowns,” said the big boss of the Phoenix.
“Regardless of the manner, if we can play again, everyone will be happy and we will be ready to play,” she said to the captain of the Sags, Rafael Harvey-Pinard.
Last chance online
Furthermore, the QMJHL has cancelled its annual conference, including its draft in the form along the lines of the NHL, scheduled to be held from 3 to 6 June, Sherbrooke. The session selection for players midget will be held instead by telephone conference call.
The League of Ontario (OHL) and the Western League (WHL) have followed suit in the QMJHL on Wednesday, cancelling the rest of their regular season respective.