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Laval rocket | Successful first impression for Jean-François Houle

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Head coach Laval Rocket now has the wind behind him

Posted at 6:00

Nicola Riccardo

Nicola Riccardo
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Jean-François Houle arrived in Laval with the aim of developing the next generation of Canadians. He did even better. He made it win. Now it might be his turn to take it to the next level.

When he hired Houle in July 2021, somewhat out of favor after Joël Bouchard’s surprise departure, Marc Bergevin praised his dedication, passion and rigor. Qualities that inspired Rocket players, who reached the semifinals in the last American League playoffs before losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals.

Prior to joining the Rocket, Houle worked as an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Condors, an agricultural club for the Edmonton Oilers. He has been on the bench for several teams in different leagues over the past 20 years and, although he grew up at Laval, he does not hide the fact that he would listen carefully to proposals from National League hockey teams.

“I would definitely think about it. Someday I’d like him to be in the National League, Houle mentioned during the Rocket season review. I love my career at Laval so far, I am very lucky. ”

If I get a call, of course I will listen, but for now, being a head coach here at Laval is where I want to be.

Jean-François Houle, head coach of Laval Rocket

If Houle has been the ship’s pilot all season, he doesn’t hesitate to return credit to his troop. The quality of the players’ work from the start of the campaign has been colossal and they have been able to show a lot of character. The first months were stormy, but the boat ended up getting back on its feet.

The players, as well as supporters and members of the organization, make Jean-François Houle a privileged person. He now thinks that the team’s reputation precedes it and that it will be interesting to take advantage of it when the time comes to convince independent players to settle on the North Shore. This mix of positives helps him a lot in his position as head coach.

A successful transition

A few months after joining the Canadian’s organization, Jean-François Houle saw the people who had hired him fired over the summer. The environment he was brought into has changed dramatically. In November 2021 Marc Bergevin was fired and Jeff Gorton arrived. In January 2022, Kent Hughes was engaged. In February 2022, Dominique Ducharme was relieved of his duties and Martin St-Louis was called to the rescue.

Many changes on Houle’s head that would ultimately have a huge impact on his work. Of course, his role is to lead the school club. However, you still have to respect the philosophy and approach of the parent company. In retrospect, even as a change occurred within the organization, Houle was able to cope with the wave.

“I chatted with Kent [Hughes]Jeff [Gorton] and I met Martin St-Louis to find out how he wanted to sound and to see what the plan was for the future at Laval. I’m looking forward to working with new people and developing a plan for the seasons to come. It will be a busy low season for us, “said the Rocket head coach.

A winning culture

The Rocket may not have won the top honors, but there are still plenty of positives to be taken from this season, Houle said.

The team had an amazing and formative run in the playoffs and believe their players have learned a lot, even without the Calder Cup.

Winning is also growing. When you are in a winning environment, it can help players. Our young players had a difficult experience to buy. It’s not easy to go far in the playoffs. For them it is a very beautiful experience that they will remember for a long time.

Jean-François Houle, head coach of Laval Rocket

For Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen and Cayden Primeau, who are part of the future of the Habs, an educational experience like the one just lived could be profitable in the long term. With the Canadiens or with the Rockets.

Now the mission will be to be able to ride the wave of the playoffs until the beginning of next season. “I’ve been saying this since the beginning of the year, in the American League you have to have consistency to reach the playoffs,” Houle said.

The coach will have to adapt in the coming months, because the face of the team could change, but he will still have the challenge of winning to grow better.

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