Lac St. Louis Lions fined by league after dismissal of coach Gerry Gomez

A team has won only once in six games since coach was hacked.

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The Quebec Development League M18 AAA says it has sanctioned and fined the organization of Lac St. Louis Lions due to his bizarre dismissal of head coach Gerry Gomez last month.

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Yanick Gagné, the league’s general manager, said the Lions did not follow league protocol when it released Gomez just 11 games into the season. At the time, the Lions boasted an winning record of 7-3-1 and won two consecutive games.

The Lions have won only once in six games since Gomez was sacked.

“In our rules and regulations at the league we have a procedure where the league general manager or director of hockey development must be involved before we fire a coach or make a coaching change, (during the season),” Gagné said. “We were informed after the fact.”

The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

Gomez told him no explanation as to why he was fired, but was told by Lions president and general manager Raz Saltarelli that the “team is going in a different direction.” Assistant coach Mark Stefanopoulos was also canned.

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Gomez said there were no apparent problems on the team and believes he was sacked because a hockey parent unhappy with his son’s ice time put pressure on the club to sack him.

Gagné said the league, formerly known as the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League, investigated the matter and found no evidence in the team’s documentation that the hockey parent concerned had an official role or ownership interest in the team. The only owners officially listed on the team’s board are Saltarelli, Karel Svoboda and a third party not related to anyone on the team.

“The official reason Gerry was fired is because the Lions want to change direction with players and the management of players’ ice time, the handling of players. They lose a lot of players in the whole (hockey) structure and they try to find ways to improve that. “That’s what we were told,” Gagné said.

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Saltarelli did not respond to an interview with the Montreal Gazette.

Gomez, 46, was replaced behind the bench by Ron Choules, who had previously coached in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Shawinigan Cataracts.

Since his firing, Gomez says he has received a lot of support from people in the hockey community, including Lions players as well as a former captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

Gomez assumed the Lions’ head coaches three years ago after Jon Goyens left to coach the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Goyens called Gomez’s shooting a disgrace. “It would be a shame to be shown the door in these circumstances. It’s a black eye. ”

Goyens said the league also has some responsibility for not stepping in.

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“This is a dwarf AAA, the pinnacle of minor hockey. You have a head coach unreasonably fired under really embarrassing circumstances. I’ll be honest, the league has done nothing about it.”

But Gagné noted that both Goyens and Gomez had been with the Lions organization long enough to come forward to the league if they had any concerns about the ownership or organizational structure of the team.

“They’ve both been part of the Lions for many years,” he said. “If they had a problem, they could have gone ahead. But they didn’t. ”

Gomez has spent the past 12 years in various minor hockey roles, including as director of the Lac St. Louis Structure Intégrée development program.

He has yet to be paid for training the Lions this season and is not sure if he will ever train again. “This left a bitter taste in my mouth after all I had given to the Lions.”

Lac St-Louis Lions new head coach Ron Choules is standing behind the bench at the Dollard Civic Center in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on October 27 during a game against the Charles-Lemoyne Riverains College.
Lac St-Louis Lions new head coach Ron Choules is standing behind the bench at the Dollard Civic Center in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on October 27 during a game against the Charles-Lemoyne Riverains College. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette

jmeagher@postmedia.com

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