Coach: Eric Lecompte, 37-year-old Chateauguay resident and hockey instructor.
Team:Lac St. Louis Royals midget espoirs.
Years coached: 4.
Highest level played: Minor pro (IHL).
Coaching tip: Keep an open mind.
Eric Lecompte was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1993 and toiled 14 years in the minors.
Now he’s bringing his considerable hockey experience to the midget espoirs Royals.
What do you think of espoirs hockey?
Lecompte: The skill level of the players is very good, They can shoot, do one-timers and all that. But they still need to learn how the play the game. I think that’s what may be missing. You will always have work on your individual skills, even as a pro, But if don’t understand how to play the game, it doesn’t matter
You previously coached at Harrington College. Were you surprised to hear it suddenly closed this year?
Lecompte: Seriously, it may sound funny but I have no idea what happened. I’ve heard different things, but I was surprised to hear it closed.
Are we going to see more scolaire hockey?
Lecompte: I think we should. Now we have to educate the parents. It might sound stupid but when you talk to parents, they say ‘Oh, my son is not going to play juvenile. It’s bad hockey, I’ll play midget AA instead.’ Well, the way I see it the (juveniles) are on the ice every day; they can do their homework at night because they don’t have practices, they have free time to do something else. They are well-surrounded, the development is better, so why not? For me it’s a no-brainer.
Where does juvenile fit in the structure with midget espoirs and midget AAA?
Lecompte: It fits right after midget espoirs. If you don’t make espoirs you can play juvenile, which might be stronger than midget AA. Just because you get cut at 15, you’re not done. You could still try for midget AAA after a year of juvenile.
Is Grade 7 too young to begin sport etudes?
Lecompte: I think it should start even earlier than that. I wish I had that when I was growing up playing inMontreal with the Hurons.
How can Quebec develop more players for the NHL?
Lecompte: Well, this is only a personal (opinion)…but how come we don’t have a sixth or seventh defencemen on TeamCanada under-20? How come we never have those guys? How come we rarely have third or fourth liners? Why? Because we don’t develop these kind of players.
Are you trying to do that with the Royals?
Lecompte: That’s how I built my team this year. I kept two players who, in my opinion, knew how to play. I’m honest. I did it. I kept those kids because they were blocking shots, playing defensively, they were smart players. And they were typical third-line players… I can’t ask a guy who’s got all the skills in the world and who is offensive to suddenly play defensively. It’s not going to work. It’s not naturally in him.
Do you have pro coaching aspirations?
Lecompte: I do, eventually. But right now I have a family and I don’t know if I’m ready. My daughter is 14 and my son just started school. But I’d like to coach pro. The passion is there.