The former coach of the Canadiens, Michel Therrien has never forgotten the neighborhood and his childhood friends in Saint-Léonard. He is one of the few coaches who has played, led a team in the American League and then been the head coach of an NHL roster. He achieved the feat on two occasions: with Pittsburgh and with the Canadian.
Today, he is Alain Vigneault’s assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers. The two have something in common: they led the Canadiens.
Are you a guy from Saint-Léonard?
I am the only child of Gerry and Rachel, who was born and raised in Saint-Léonard.
Was sport part of your youth?
With my friends, including Pierre Langevin, to whom I wish him a speedy recovery, we played hockey at the arena and on the outdoor rink. When summer came, we got together to play baseball.
Your father played an important role in your life.
My father paved the way for my career, through his involvement in minor sport in Saint-Léonard. He has held all positions in baseball and hockey, from a coach to a team leader.
Have you been the mascot of a hockey team?
At the time, the teams had a youngster who had a mini-role as an equipment attendant. My father was the coach of a squad that was part of the Normand Aubin team, which was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dino Troini whose junior career ended with an eye injury. . His brother Bruno Troini and I were the mascots of the team.
You studied at Antoine-de-Saint-Exupéry high school.
Let’s say I missed several lessons at St-EX, and my parents didn’t know about it. The arena was located right next to the school, so a lot of times my friends and I would show up at the school, before heading to the hockey rink without the management’s knowledge.
You represented Quebec in baseball.
When I was 14, I was part of Class 77 of the Élites du Québec, which was led by renowned managers Richard Émond and Larry Beseski, and my father was the GM. The team was made up of Quebec’s top baseball prospects aged 14 to 16.
One day, you had to choose a sport.
I had to choose between continuing to play baseball or joining the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. I headed for hockey.
Did you live in an apartment in Quebec?
I lived in a boarding house with a wonderful family from Limoilou, the Lamoureux family. In the basement, two of my teammates often played guitar. I advised Sylvain Lessard to stop playing the guitar and the other to continue, because he was good. It was Rock Voisine.
Rock Voisine was your teammate at the Remparts?
Rock was a good hockey player. Once our hockey careers were over, he asked me to be his bodyguard when he toured shows. We have always remained good friends. In fact, we recently played a round of golf at the Mirage.
A singer, a composer and a trainer, quite a trio.
A few years later, the song Helen launched the career of Rock Voisine in collaboration with the composer Stéphane Lessard, whose “blonde” was called Hélène, and I became a hockey coach.
The brand of your first car.
I was 21 when I played for the Sherbrooke Canadiens in the American League. I bought a Honda Civic, 5 speed, manual transmission. The car color was brown, but very ugly.
Are you a good cook?
Lamentable! The only cooking I do is on the barbecue, and it’s hot dogs and steak.
Jacques Lemaire is your mentor.
Jacques was my junior coach with the Longueuil Knights, whose owner was Georges Touten. I loved playing under him. The following years, when I was a coach, we went fishing. I asked him for advice, again today I love discussing hockey strategies with him.
The death of your father caused you great pain.
I’m telling you about it now, shedding tears. My father had cardiovascular problems. After leading my game from Pittsburgh to Ottawa, I took the road to Saint-Léonard to see my father who was hospitalized. The doctors told me that my father didn’t have much time to live.
” Dad I love you ! “
My father was waiting for me. I couldn’t wait to see him to tell him how he had helped me become a better man and a hockey coach. I hugged him because I knew it was the last time we would see each other. ” Dad I love you ! One of my last words to my father before I returned to Pittsburgh. A few days later he passed away. He was 77 years old. I did not direct the game against the Rangers because I attended my father’s funeral.
Tell me about your mother.
Mom, she was a wonderful woman who made sure that my dad and I wanted for nothing. After my father passed away, she came to live at the house with my two children and I until his death. Another difficult ordeal to go through.
Your children are sportsmen.
Charles trains in boxing because he wants to compete in the Golden Gloves championship. While Elizabeth played baseball in her youth. Last week I went to see her play softball in a mixed line. This week, she has a new challenge waiting for her, as she joined the production house Avanti.
You trust life.
Life has always allowed me to make the right decision that was offered to me: to marry Josée Tremblay is undoubtedly proof that I had confidence in life. She is there to support me in difficult times. His love and understanding make me a better man.
You who have a good sense of humor, how is your golf?
Let’s move on !