Laval rocket | Successful first impression for Jean-François Houle

The Laval Rocket head coach now has the wind in his sails

Posted at 6:00 am

Nicholas Richard

Nicholas Richard
The press

Jean-François Houle came to Laval with the aim of educating the next generation of Canadians. He made it even better. He brought it to victory. Now it might be his turn to take it to the next level.

When he hired Houle in July 2021, a little in the throes of disaster after Joël Bouchard’s surprise departure, Marc Bergevin praised his dedication, passion and rigor. Traits that inspired the Rocket players who advanced to the semifinals in the recent American League playoffs before losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals.

Before joining Rocket, Houle was an assistant coach at the Bakersfield Condors, a farm club owned by the Edmonton Oilers. He has been on the bench for various teams in various leagues over the past 20 years and while he thrived at Laval, he does not hide the fact that he would listen carefully to suggestions from National League teams.

“I would definitely think about it. One day I wish I was in the National League, Houle mentioned during Rocket’s season recap. I love my career in Laval so far, I’m very happy. »

Of course, when I get a call I listen, but right now I want to be the head coach here at Laval.

Jean-François Houle, head coach of the Laval Rocket

If Houle has been the ship’s pilot all season, he doesn’t hesitate to give credit to his squad. The quality of the players’ work since the beginning of the campaign has been colossal and they have been able to show a lot of character. The first few months were stormy, but in the end the boat got back on its feet.

Players as well as supporters and members of the organization make Jean-François Houle a privileged person. He now thinks the team’s reputation precedes him and will be interesting to capitalize on when it comes time to convince independent players to settle on the North Shore. This mix of positive aspects helps him a lot in his position as head coach.

A successful transition

A few months after arriving in the Canadian’s organization, Jean-François Houle saw the people who hired him over the summer being fired. The environment in which he was placed changed dramatically. In November 2021, Marc Bergevin was fired and Jeff Gorton came in. In January 2022, Kent Hughes got engaged. In February 2022, Dominique Ducharme was relieved of his duties and Martin St-Louis was brought in to replace him.

Lots of changes over Houle’s head that would ultimately have a major impact on his work. His job, of course, is to run the school club. However, it must respect the philosophy and approach of the parent company. In retrospect, despite a change in the organization, Houle was able to face the wave.

“I chatted with Kent [Hughes]Jeff [Gorton] and I met Martin St-Louis to find out how he wanted to play and see what the plan was for the future at Laval. I look forward to working with new people and developing a plan for the coming seasons. It’s going to be a busy offseason for us,” said the Rocket head coach.

A winning culture

The Rocket may not have received the highest accolades, but there are still plenty of positives to take from this season, Houle said.

The team had a surprising and formative run in the playoffs and he believes his players learned a lot even without the Calder Cup.

Winning also means developing. Being in a successful environment can help players. Our young players have had an experience that is difficult to buy. It’s not easy going far in the playoffs. For them it is a very nice experience that they will remember for a long time.

Jean-François Houle, head coach of the Laval Rocket

For Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, Jesse Ylönen and Cayden Primeau, who are part of the Habs’ future, a formative experience like the one just had could be long-term profitable. With the Canadiens or the Rocket.

Now it’s time to ride the wave of the playoffs until the start of the next season. “I’ve been saying this since the beginning of the year, in the American League you have to have consistency to make the playoffs,” Houle said.

The head coach will have to adjust over the next few months because the face of the squad could change, but he will still have the challenge of winning to develop better.

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