Commission chaired by Marc Denis: here are 9 ideas for the development of hockey in Quebec

In order for the development of Quebec hockey players to improve sufficiently, the problem will have to be tackled at the root by ensuring that young people aged 17 and 18 have better options.

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This is one of the recommendations of the Quebec Committee on the Development of Hockey in Quebec, which submitted its long-awaited report on Thursday, after several months of consultations with a diverse group of experts from different branches of the Belle province.

Photo QMI Agency, Marcel Tremblay

The committee’s chairman, former National League goalkeeper Marc Denis, presented the report’s conclusions at a press conference. These revolve a lot around optimizing talent development, as 17-year-old players often find themselves in a gray area. Few young people of this age make it to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (LHJMQ).

“The 17-year-old players, from 2004, who are in the QMJHL, are served very well. They don’t play on the fourth line or in the stands. These are players for whom the development is adequate. […] These players, the sprinters, are very well served. For example, those who are poorly served are cut off last from the big junior teams,” Denis explained at a press conference.

Photo QMI Agency, Marcel Tremblay

So we propose new solutions for the U18s, but also for the 15 and 16 year olds, who deserve to evolve in separate competitions instead of together at the mini hopeful level. On the other hand, we want to stay away from the US development program for under-18s, which is only effective for 40 or so privileged players.

In this sense, the regional technical advisors would play an important role in all corners of Quebec to facilitate learning. They would allow players to reach their full potential within Quebec’s structures, the committee believes.

University programs to be developed

Of the 35 university courses in men’s hockey, only three come from Quebec and only one is French-speaking. The patriots of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, reigning champions of Canada, represent the province beautifully, but are alone at the top.

Accessing hockey from an early age, particularly through learning to skate in elementary school, would also allow reaching a wider clientele. Marc Denis believes that the sport is taken seriously too early and that the enjoyment of the game leads to better retention of young people.

Photo QMI Agency, Marcel Tremblay

The Quebec Committee on the Development of Hockey in Quebec has submitted its ideas for women’s hockey, where it hopes to achieve equal opportunities. Para hockey would also benefit from a partial overhaul of the system.

“What’s important is that it’s day 1 of a long-term investment in our sport, and it’s applicable to the field. That’s how we thought about it, Denis said. There is ample leeway in each of the recommendations […] and when they come to life, it will take the form that the partners have decided.”

“I repeat: we need partners, we need Hockey Quebec to make changes and lead the way. We need the QMJHL, we need the Montreal Canadiens to be part of the solution,” he added.

Photo QMI Agency, Marcel Tremblay

This report was submitted to the government on April 22, with a follow-up request. Denis is hopeful that he won’t be “off the shelf” anytime soon and that the former committee members will continue to work hard to get their ideas adopted.

Listen to Jean-François Baril’s column in Mario Dumont’s microphone on Qub Radio:

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