Inactive on the regular calendar for a month and a half, the Remparts de Québec have nevertheless found a way to gain traction during this forced break, believes Patrick Roy, who feels a wind of positivism sweeping through his troops a week before the start of the action in the Videotron Center bubble.
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• Read also: Other changes to the QMJHL calendar
The Remparts are one of the seven teams in the red zones (Editor’s note: the participation of the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi is not yet official since the team is awaiting the results of screening tests) who will participate in this protected environment project of the League of Quebec major junior hockey (LHJMQ).
The Capitale-Nationale region having been placed on maximum alert at the beginning of October, which prohibits the practice of team sports, the Remparts (1-0-1) had to settle for only two games so far, both played. during the opening weekend on October 3 and 4.
While the head coach and general manager is anxious to see how his men will fare after such a long period without playing, the numerous training sessions in recent weeks have taken the team a step forward, he says. . Like the other clubs, the Red Devils will play six games in 11 days, from November 17 to 27, potentially starting their adventure on day one.
“Yesterday [mardi], it was like unreal for the guys, and today [mercredi], I felt the guys realized that the chances of us playing our first game were in less than a week. It is an additional motivation and it is a good feeling, first commented Patrick Roy in videoconference on Wednesday.
“There is a progression that has been made, but I can’t wait to see it in the games. I like what I see in practice, and you have to bring it into the matches. We practiced the individual aspects and at the collective level, that was all that surrounds the sequences of play. As we had no contacts, I can’t wait to see how we will respond to the physical aspect. ”
Captain Thomas Caron made no secret that he and his teammates were impatiently awaiting this recovery. Without saying that they had eased off lately, there is nothing better than knowing the future to prepare with all the motivation you need.
“We are very happy […] At one point, it’s tough on morale to just practice. That said, we managed to keep it fun with team activities, friendly tournaments on the ice. […] I think it will take two, three shifts max to find our synchronism ”, launched the 20-year-old striker.
Caron has no problem with staying in a hotel. The Bonne-Entente and the Delta will house the clubs, players and staff included, from the bubble. This is also where they will follow their study sessions and where they can relax, especially by playing video games, between matches.
“We were ready to do anything to play hockey. The guys will be even more together and that will be a plus for us for the team chemistry, ”Caron assured.
The Remparts delegation will have a total of 30 people who will undergo a COVID-19 screening test on Friday in preparation for official entry into the nest from Monday, November 16. The QMJHL and Public Health have authorized a maximum of 34 individuals (25 players) per club. Once in the bubble, they will have to be tested every three days.
Roy also praised the efforts made to carry out this project, which will generate “significant costs”, according to Commissioner Gilles Courteau. The League did not want to give more details, negotiations are still underway in connection with the event. For the big boss of the Remparts, the success of the bubble could open the door to other similar plans depending on the evolution of the health crisis.
“We have to find a way to play that will ensure that Public Health is going to be comfortable and that everyone feels safe […] We will demonstrate that the bubble can be protected and experience will say a lot about what can happen next, ”said Roy, who intends to use his entire workforce.
Europeans: Roy persuaded to settle the dispute
Patrick Roy is optimistic that the Finnish Remparts hockey players will be able to make their debut with their new team when the action begins in the bubble.
The cases of Aapo Siivonen and Viljami Marjala as well as those of other European players in the QMJHL (Mikhail Abramov, Vasily Ponomaev and Yaroslav Likhachev) who managed to enter Canada despite the border restrictions in force are analyzed by the Canadian League.
The two Remparts players went through customs with a work permit in their pocket after the intervention of a Toronto law firm. Ditto for Abramov, of the Tigers, and for Likhachev, of the Armada. In the case of the first, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs, who drafted him in 2019, who took charge. As for Ponomaev, he obtained the blessing of border services thanks to his father who works on the Cataractes coaching staff.
Without saying it openly, the LHJMQ and the LCH fear that these licenses will harm the ongoing legal process concerning the class action suit which claims employee status for the players.
“Whether with a visa [de visiteur] or a work permit, that doesn’t change anything, it’s just an entry to come and play in the QMJHL. My understanding is that you can enter with a worker’s permit while remaining with your amateur status ”, explained the director of hockey operations of the Quebec club.
Not a bit of a grudge
Roy does not believe his inflammatory statements towards the CHL and its president Dan MacKenzie caused this impasse.
“I hope not […] The League did not prevent us from bringing them in in any way. We proceeded like the other four players [NDRL : trois en excluant Egor Serdyuk qui a passé l’été au Québec], and subsequently, the rules have changed by memo. I had discussions with Mr. Courteau and I feel that the league supports us in these steps ”, supported the“ 33 ”.