Éric Veilleux is aware that he will have big shoes to fill by replacing Patrick Roy behind the Quebec Remparts bench next season. But that doesn’t seem to scare him too much.
Veilleux was confirmed in his new position on Thursday, during a press conference which took place in Quebec and which was broadcast on the club’s social networks. He was flanked for the occasion by the new general manager of the organization, Simon Gagné.
Gagné did not elaborate on the specifics of the deal, saying only that it was “in line with a five-year plan.” He added that the candidate he selected had to meet three very important criteria.
Veilleux held until last season an assistant coaching position with the Syracuse Crunch, the training club of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the American Hockey League (AHL). His decision to return to the junior ranks, rather than stay in the pros, raised eyebrows. Veilleux quickly explained the reasons for his decision.
“I loved my time as assistant coach to “Ben” (Benoît Groulx) at the Crunch, except that I wanted to become head coach again. Everything happens for a reason, and it (Gagne’s offer) just happened. »
After contacting him three weeks ago, Gagné said he had spoken to Veilleux again a few times and immediately felt a connection between them.
Veilleux, who is 51, however indicated that he had also been approached by another team, without saying more. The challenge of replacing Roy, who stepped down after winning the Memorial Cup last month, was just too enticing.
It is therefore a homecoming for Veilleux, who led the Shawinigan Cataractes and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar between 2006 and 2014, as well as the Halifax Mooseheads in 2018-2019. He also won the Memorial Cup with the Cataractes in 2012.
Between his two stints in the QMJHL, Veilleux was assistant coach of the Norfolk Admirals, in the AHL, from 2014 to 2016, and head coach of the San Antonio Rampage, from 2016 to 2018.
He returned to the professional ranks in 2019, after accepting the Crunch’s offer.
Veilleux will inherit in Quebec a club under reconstruction, and he warned that fans of the Old Capital will have to be patient with the team.
“It will be a challenge. I have experienced a similar situation before; I still spent seven years in Shawinigan. All teams have a certain cycle, each team works in its own way, he mentioned. Obviously, the way we’re going to play, will the results still be there? I do not know.
“But I don’t want to talk about the start of the season, whether it will be difficult or not. I don’t think now is the right time. That being said, when it happens (the losing streak), I’m sure you’ll tell me about it,” he concluded with a laugh.
In addition, Gagné indicated that the hiring process for Veilleux’s assistants has already begun, and he is hopeful of being able to reveal the entire coaching staff of the Remparts “by next week”.
The QMJHL team has just won the Memorial Cup, a trophy awarded to the best team in the Canadian Hockey League, for the third time in its history, after 2006 and 1971.
The Remparts also became the first team to win the Gilles-Courteau Trophy, awarded to the QMJHL champion team, and the Memorial Cup in the same season since the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2019.