Gilles Courteau resigned as the QMJHL’s commissioner on Sunday. In a statement posted to social media, Courteau wrote: “Today, I contacted Mr. Richard Létourneau, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, to announce my resignation, effective immediately. I am no longer the commissioner of the QMJHL.” . . . Courteau 65, added that “recent events have taken on such proportions that my family members have suffered. To persist would have been stubbornness.” . . .
Courteau had been involved with the QMJHL since 1975. He took over as league president during the 1985-86 season; the title of president was changed to commissioner in 2000. . . . The league had announced on Dec. 16 that he would be retiring in 2024 and that its championship trophy, the Presidents Cup, had been renamed the Gilles Courteau Trophy. . . . The QMJHL said Sunday that Martin Lavallée, the assistant commissioner, would take over on an interim basis until a replacement is hired. However, there were immediate reports by Le Soleil and the Journal de Québec that Mario Cecchini would be named commissioner in the immediate future. Cecchini most recently was the president of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. . . .
Courteau had been under the gun of late because of allegations of hazing and abusive initiations in the QMJHL. His appearance before a legislative committee didn’t go particularly well, with Premier François Legault saying that he had concerns about Courteau’s testimony, some of which the premier referred to as “contradictory statements.” . . . On Thursday, Isabelle Charet, the province’s sport minister, had said that her government would be recalling Courteau for further testimony. . . .
The Canadian Press reported that Vincent Marissal, who is responsible for sports and leisure with the political party Québec solidaire, said in a news release: “It had become very clear after his appearance in the parliamentary committee that Gilles Courteau no longer had the legitimacy or the room for manoeuvre to remain in office. I salute his decision to pass the torch immediately. As for us parliamentarians, the work has barely begun with this parliamentary commission and we must continue this work in order to ensure that we find solutions to protect the integrity of young people who practice sports in Quebec.” . . .
In the WHL, Ron Robison, 68, is in his 23rd season as commissioner. The board of governors extended his contract through the 2023-24 season on June 18, 2021. . . .
In the OHL, David Branch, 74, has been commissioner since 1979.
CANADA WEST UPDATE: The U of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team won its first Canada West title since 1996 on Sunday, beating the visiting Alberta Golden Bears, 2-1, in the third game of the best-of-three final. . . . F Josh Maser broke a 1-1 tie at 16:45 of the third period. . . . Both teams will be going to the national championship tournament that runs in Charlottetown, March 16-19.
If the WHL playoffs started today:
Winnipeg (1) vs. Swift Current (8)
Red Deer (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
Saskatoon (3) vs. Regina (6)
Moose Jaw (4) vs. Lethbridge (5)
Seattle (1) vs. Kelowna (8)
Kamloops (2) vs. Vancouver (7)
Portland (3) vs. Tri-City (6)
Prince George (4) vs. Everett (5)
SUNDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:
F Trevor Wong scored three times and added an assist to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 5-2 victory over the Pats in Regina. . . . This may well have been a first-round playoff preview. . . . Wong, who has 23 goals, tied the game 1-1 at 8:23 of the second period and 2-2 at 11:56. . . . He completed his hat trick with the emtpy-netter. . . . Saskatoon F Egor Sidorov scored twice, giving him 40 this season. He broke a 2-2 tie at 2:17 of the third period and added insurance at 6:39. . . . Regina D Stanislav Svozil continued his superb season with two assists. He has 73 points, including 63 assists, in 47 games. . . . F Connor Bedard of the Pats, who leads the WHL in goals (59), assists (64) and points (123), was blanked for just the third time in 48 games this season. He also was on the ice for all of Saskatoon’s goals. . . . Saskatoon (42-13-5) went 4-0-0 and outscored its opposition 19-6 in playing four games over five nights. It has points in 10 straight (9-0-1) and is 10 points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Winnipeg Ice. . . . Regina (31-25-3) had a six-game winning streak snapped. It is sixth in the conference, five points behind Lethbridge and four ahead of Medicine Hat. . . .
In Calgary, the Hitmen overcame an early 2-0 deficit to beat the Swift Current Broncos, 4-3. . . . F Owen Pickering (10) and D Grayson Burzynski (5) scored for the Broncos before the game was eight minutes old. . . . F Sean Tschigerl (20) got Calgary to within a goal at 3:26 of the second period and F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (27) tied it 42 seconds into the third. . . . Tschigerl (21), on a PP, gave his guys the lead at 3:39 and F Carter Yakemchuk (15) made it 4-2, on another PP, at 9:13. . . . F Mat Ward (22) pulled the Broncos to within one at 14:10. . . . Tschigerl also had an assist, while Fiddler-Schultz had two. . . . Calgary (25-26-8) had lost its previous four games (0-3-1). It is ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Swift Current (28-28-3), which had had won its previous three games. . . .
The Portland Winterhawks ended a nine-game losing skid with a 3-1 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . Portland had been 0-7-2 in its previous nine games. . . . D Ty Gibson (6) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 10:04 of the first period. . . . F Gabe Klassen (34) tied it at 18:49, with F Luca Cagnoni (15) breaking the tie, on a PP, at 18:13. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (28) added the empty-netter. . . . Portland had a 44-28 edge in shots, including 22-8 in the first period. . . . Portland was without F James Stefan, who drew a TBD suspension for a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct he took on Saturday night against Tri-City. F Ethan Ernst, who on the receiving end of the hit by Stefan, wasn’t in the Americans’ lineup Sunday night against Seattle. . . . Portland (37-17-6) is third in the Western Conference and is going to finish there. . . . Everett (30-26-3) has lost two in a row and is tied with Tri-City for fifth in the conference. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds ran their winning streak to 13 games with a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kent, Wash. . . . D Jeremy Hanzel (10) of the Thunderbirds broke a 2-2 tie at 4:41 of the third period. . . . F Reese Belton (11) had a goal and an assist for Tri-City. . . . F Brad Lambert drew three assists and now has 28 points, 16 of them assists, in 18 games since joining Seattle. . . . Seattle (48-9-2) leads the Western Conference and is one point behind Winnipeg for first place overall. . . . Tri-City (28-25-7) is tied with Everett for fifth in the conference. . . . The Thunderbirds will entertain the Kamloops Blazers on Tuesday night in a battle of the conference’s top two teams.
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