Richer's regime begins in Gatineau

 

Mario Richer began his tenure as the head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques when his team opened training camp yesterday morning at the Robert Guertin Arena.

 
 
 

Same old face, new hat.

Mario Richer began his tenure as the head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques when his team opened training camp yesterday morning at the Robert Guertin Arena.

Richer was named to his new role late last week after Benoît Groulx resigned as coach of both the Olympiques and the national junior team to take a head coaching position with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.

Richer has spent close to six seasons as an assistant coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including four as an assistant to Groulx.

He did take a two-year hiatus from the Olympiques when he was the coach at the Harrington College of Canada near Lachute, Que.

He returned to the Olympiques last October knowing that he would eventually replace Groulx behind the bench.

"When I came back, I talked to the owners and they said I would be the next coach. That was part of the plan," Richer said. "I'm very proud to be the head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques. It's a big honour and it will be a big challenge for me because there's a big transition."

Richer worked very closely with Groulx, who gave his ex-assistant a glowing endorsement when he met with the media last week to officially announce his move to the professional ranks. Richer returned the favour.

"He's the coach with the most titles in league history, so it's difficult to compare me to him, but I learned a lot from him," Richer said.

The new assistant behind the bench is Claude Bouchard, who coached the midget AAA Jonquière Elites last season. Bouchard has eight years of coaching experience in the QMJHL, including six as a head coach, four of those with the Val-d'Or Foreurs, with whom he won a championship in 2001.

"That's why I chose Claude, because he brings experience. He knows what it takes to lead a team and already he's giving me tips on talking to the players and planning. He has helped me a lot," Richer said.

Yesterday, the pair began the task of determining who will fill the 10 vacant spots to go along with the 14 returning players from last year's championship season.

"You could see that the guys were nervous," Richer said. "This was the first scrimmage, but they'll get better and guys will show who is capable of competing for one of the available spots."

The team will scrimmage this afternoon at 2 p.m. and practise tomorrow morning before playing host to the Montreal Juniors, the relocated St. John's Fog Devils, in an exhibition game tomorrow night.

 
 
 
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