Lots of news from the QMJHL this week, and it isn’t all good.
I’m going to start with the good stuff, and if you want controversy, dirt, and gossip you’ll have to click through for more!
Goalie Jake Allen of the defending champion Drummondville Voltigeurs is red hot right now. The league named him defensive player of the month Tuesday after he went 11-1 with a 1.59 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. After back-to-back shutouts, he finally allowed a goal Sunday, stopping his shutout streak at 188 minutes, 47 seconds, second-longest in league history.
It’s nice to see the St. Louis Blues prospect hasn’t hung his head since Canada’s disappointing loss in the gold-medal game at the world junior championship. Allen leads the league with a 2.30 GAA and .920 SP.
In other good news, top NHL draft prospect Kirill Kabanov of the Moncton Wildcats is back in action after missing most of the season with a wrist injury.
The 17-year-old from Moscow scored in his first two games back, and had four points in four games heading into Tuesday’s action. While he’s played just 15 games thanks to the injury and transfer problems from Russia, he’s tallied 18 points and sits No. 7 on the International Scouting Services ranking of eligible draft prospects.
“He’s played pretty solid hockey considering that he missed almost 40 games,” said Moncton coach and director of hockey operations Danny Flynn, who thought he might lose Kabanov for the season at one point.“When you lose a guy for 40 games and the prognosis is, you’re not sure whether he’ll be back or not, you kind of put him on the shelf emotionally. If you get him back he’s a bonus, so right now it’s a bonus to have him back and we’ve got to get him in game shape,” Flynn said.
THE BAD & THE UGLY
A big shock came Tuesday when news broke that Cape Breton Screaming Eagles defenseman Kalin Paul faces criminal charges for an attempted robbery early Sunday morning.
Few details have been released, but the alleged victim, a man in his 30s, reported Paul and another young man attacked him around 4:30 a.m. Sunday on one of Sydney’s main streets.
It’s not the kind of news anyone wants to hear about a 19-year-old junior hockey player. Paul, who is from Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton, was traded to his hometown team from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in January. The Screaming Eagles played back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, winning both. My initial reaction is to think Paul, a six-foot-one, 188-pound fighter with 107 penalty minutes and six points, was on a celebration night with friends gone WAY too far.
Eagles coach Mario Durocher calls Paul a “presence on the ice” who was “good with his teammates.” The team is suspending the player indefinitely while the investigation continues.
Another strange bit of news came Saturday, when former NHL player Jerome Dupont apparently resigned as coach of the Gatineau Olympiques with just 10 games to go.
Dupont had a winning record (59-49) behind the bench for the Olympiques, who he turned around last season after inheriting a team on a 10-game losing streak. If you’re into gossip, published reports have linked Dupont to having an affair with Belinda Stronach.
If you read French, here’s a great blog entry by Jean-François Plante , one of the best reporters in the league. Plante said he knew the shine was wearing off Dupont’s star, but he had no idea players had lost so much respect for Dupont.
The team was a respectable 26-29-1-4, not terrible for a rebuilding squad, and safely in the playoffs. The biggest knock on Dupont, an incredibly intense coach who paces the bench screaming, was that he burned out his veterans by leaning on them too heavily. That approach works on a team built for winning, but not so much for teaching a rebuilding squad.
John Chabot, another former NHLer, is certainly a move in the other direction. Chabot’s reputation is more as a cool, calm and collected type.
Meanwhile, something that should have been good news got buried on Sunday.
Richard Martel of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens set a new QMJHL record with his 570th win behind the bench. Unfortunately for him, there was some other hockey game going on on Sunday.
It’s just more bad luck for the 48-year-old bench boss, who has yet to win a championship in his 16 full seasons in the league.