While some dismissals are sometimes hostile and difficult, it was quite the opposite in the case of Joël Bouchard. The Quebecer has no bitterness and explains the situation by a “competition of circumstances”.

We learned Wednesday evening that Joël Bouchard and his two assistants with the San Diego Gulls, Daniel Jacob and Maxime Talbot, had been thanked by the Anaheim Ducks.

Back in Quebec, Bouchard did not hesitate to answer the call from La Presse on Thursday morning. ” I’m feeling very well. It was super well done,” he says right off the bat.

The three coaches suspected something. The Ducks organization is going through a period of change. General manager Bob Murray, who had been in the role for several years, left the organization in October. Then Pat Verbeek was hired in February.

Bouchard, Jacob and Talbot are victims of the change of plan.

“Honestly, we kinda knew it was coming,” he said. It was super cordial. »

“The important thing is that it ended well. We spoke for 20 minutes, it was very cordial, we discussed files. There was mutual respect. Pat told us a few times that we were professionals. It’s not easy, putting people out, I’ve done it before. It’s not the fun. We said, “Pat, we don’t know each other, that’s normal.” He doesn’t really know us either. »

Joël Bouchard recalls that he arrived “in the Bob Murray era”. When Bouchard’s contract with the Laval Rocket expired on July 1, 2021, Murray was the first to give him a call.

“When they called me on July 1, we had a plan,” he says. I was good in Laval, I was not unhappy. They were my boys. We had built something in three years. It’s a combination of circumstances, the reasons that brought me to Anaheim, and it’s a combination of circumstances, the reasons why I left. »

“At the end of the day, we went there with Bob Murray. Bob had a plan. This plan was what it was. There’s Pat Verbeek coming. He will put his plan into action, his structure. And honestly, he has work to do. »

When Joël Bouchard decided to leave Laval last year, after three seasons as a Rocket pilot, he wanted to “live a new experience, learn something else”. And that’s what he did.

“It forced me to push myself in a different situation,” he says. It wasn’t the same deal in San Diego as it was in Laval. At some point in life, you step out of your comfort zone. That’s what I decided to do and I have no regrets. »

It hasn’t been an easy season in Southern California. The change of CEO changed a lot of things. COVID too.

“Since Bob was still in charge of everything, it was frayed lineups at times. With COVID, we didn’t have it easy either because we had it on two stages. It was six weeks of rotation, our guys didn’t all get it all at once. Guys from the Ducks got it after. We played games with 18 [players], but we had a lot of depth. »

At one point, the team’s top two scorers were two defenders turned forwards. Throughout the season, the coaches had to find solutions.

“We gave each other a chance every game, we never got downgraded, we were there all the time. But sometimes, maybe a little goal was missing here and there. »

And the Gulls finally made it to the playoffs with a 28-33-7 record: “It was quite an accomplishment,” Bouchard said. The team was ultimately eliminated in two games by the Ontario Reign.

So what’s next for Joel Bouchard?

“I’m going to hang out with the people I love, who I haven’t seen in a long time with COVID,” he replies. There are many people who did not come to see me, my parents did not travel. »

“It’s kind of weird because I’ve had lots of text messages from people telling me they’re sorry,” he said. But I’m not like that. I’m a lot more disappointed when the team loses. In the category of disappointments, this is very low for me. »

Over the years, Bouchard has been owner, general manager, trainer. He worked as general manager of the World Juniors. It has a hockey academy. The list of his accomplishments is long. “I really like coaching players, I’m passionate about it,” he hints. “We’ll see what the future brings. »



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