Saturday, 15 August 2009

Jacques Paiement Update

In an important story that certainly did not get anywhere close to the run it deserved when first announced, Laval Head Coach Jacques Paiement announced his retirement as Head Coach from the Rouge et Or program this past March just prior to the CIS Nationals. For those who didn't know, Jacques was diagnosed with prostate cancer in November, 2008, just prior to the beginning of Laval's "Q" league regular season opener and spent the remainder of last season recouperating before making his retirement final.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Jacques recently and the always-affable coach was his usual high-spirited self despite the obvious strain of dealing with his physical condition but also the emotion of having to give up coaching after 38 years as a mentor. One of my favorite people in the entire CIS, Jacques described how difficult it was for him and his team last season after he had to leave in November and then later deciding to retire. It was also very emotional for him to return to the gym to watch which he finally did towards the end of last season. Expect Jacques to continue to be around the CIS scene and we wish him much health and happiness in his retirement.

Paiement's resume ranks with any of the great coaches in CIS history, taking over a team that was last in the RPI in the mid-1990's and quickly improved the program to a Nationals contender. The program blossomed in 2000-01 with the arrival of four-time All-Canadian Charles Fortier and les Rouge et Or began a string of 4 consecutive Quebec league championships including 2 CIS Final Four appearances. Coach Paiement's Quebec league record was a stellar 52-16 (.765) during that time. Paiement's final 8 teams (between 2000-01 and 2007-08) all qualified for the Quebec league championship, winning 5 Quebec league titles. His overall record vs. CIS teams in that time was 161-70 (.697).

Under Paiement, Laval had three All-Canadians (Fortier 4 times, Dominic Soucy and J.P. Morin (twice)), two Quebec league Player-of-the-Year honours (Soucy and Morin) and two CIS Rookie-of-the-Years (Fortier and J.F. Beaulieu-Maheux). Also, Laval's Jerome Turcotte was named last season's Ken Shields Award winner for Most Outstanding Student-Athlete. Jacques himself had multiple Quebec league coach-of-the-year honours the most recent in 2007-08.

When they were at their best, Laval under Jacques played as tough a team and on-the-ball defense as any team in the country, had quality guards and big men and always competed very hard. One of the better CIS games I ever saw was a Carleton/Laval battle earlier this decade in the first round of the Jack Donohue Tournament at a time when both teams were breaking into the national scene. The game went into overtime and both teams went at each other until a buzzer-beating shot at the end of the game. It was one of several memorable Laval/Carleton games earlier this decade.

Paiement's son, Jacques Jr. who spent 9 years as the Head Coach of Ste-Foy CEGEP and concurrently 7 years as Assistant to his father at Laval, officially takes the program over this season. Expect the Laval program to not skip a beat with Jacques Jr. and build upon the national success that Jacques Sr. has led this program to over the past decade.

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