A former Habs player denounces the toxic culture in minor hockey

Carl Vaillancourt
May 16, 2024  (11:03 PM)

Players in Quebec's minor hockey
Photo credit: Hockey Québec

In a very well-written column, former Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexandre Picard painted a grim picture of the state of elite hockey in Quebec. As the father of an 11-year-old boy playing in the M13 AAA, Alexandre Picard shared some facts that should concern the managers of Hockey Quebec.

At the Chevrolet Cup held in the Mauricie region at the end of April, Mr. Picard witnessed peculiar bench management by some coaches in the M13 AAA. His text has been read and widely shared over the past few hours. For all parents and coaches in minor hockey, this text is a stark and quite truthful reflection of what is seen across Quebec in our arenas.

Alexandre Picard Makes Sad Revelations About Hockey in Quebec

See excerpts from his article.
"A former Canadiens defenseman has seen horror stories while following his 11-year-old son.

Is it too late to save our minor hockey? Shocking report."

- TVA Sports

We will provide some examples, but we highly recommend reading the full text, titled "Quebec Minor Hockey is Almost Incurable."
"Since my return to Quebec, here are the horrors I have seen:

A father grabbing his child by the cage at the age of 9 and shaking his head because he isn't playing up to his expectations.

A coach screaming at the top of his lungs for several seconds at a player during a practice, in front of teammates and parents.

Situations where goalie rotations are thrown out the window.

Parents compiling statistics of their sons to increase their value in the eyes of others.

Intoxicated parents verbally abusing the youngsters on the ice.

Young players forced to warm the bench while others play excessively.

These behaviors are not acceptable in a minor hockey context.

I have observed the evolution of intensity through my son's experiences, and I note a fundamental difference between Europe and Quebec: the mentality."

- Alexandre Picard, via TVA Sports

It is clear that the mentality advocated in European countries has nothing to do with the North American or Quebec mentality in this case. Unlike the famous will to win at all costs, the energy of hockey leaders in Europe is based on fun and the development of ALL players' skills.
Too much emphasis is placed on results, records, and statistics, but not enough on the tangible. Many tangible elements do not appear on the score sheet.
In his text, Alexandre Picard refers to young players aged 11 and 12... It's concerning!
Towards the end of the text, he delivers a powerful message:
"What these programs seem to understand is that the development of young trainees is just as important as the development of athletes because, after all, the probability of reaching the NHL is 0.03%.

I am addressing the parents. Regardless of the sport, age, or category, stand up. Denounce this kind of injustice! [...] Put the child at the center of the debate and stop believing that all of this is acceptable."

- Alexandre Picard

The discussion has begun, and it remains to be seen what will come of it!
"Excellent text by Alex Picard this morning. Minor hockey in Quebec is sick. The structure is rotten. The revival will come through school hockey, I am convinced.

The passage that affected me the most during my reading below, imagine what goes on in the young player's mind..." - Marc-Olivier Beaudoin

To read the full text, click here!
"As a hockey professional, I wrote a column to address an important issue: the troubling mentality and culture of minor hockey. It's time to rethink our approaches for the well-being of our young athletes." - Alex Picard
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