Ottawa – Head coach and GM Martin Dagenais has confirmed that he will back behind the Ottawa Jr. Senators bench next season as he will not be returning to the QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques for the 2020-21 season.
Earlier this year, Dagenais joined Gatineau as an assistant coach while he was still coaching the Junior Senators. He was on double duty for two months before both leagues cancelled their upcoming playoffs. Although it was tough to bounce back from one team to the other, Dagenais felt it was a good learning experience for him.
“It was a tough decision to decide on whether or not I should join Gatineau mid-season. I got the offer right after the CCHL trade deadline and they gave me 48 hours to make a decision. I didn’t want to leave OJS mid-season so I figured a way to work with both organizations. It was time-consuming, but with the support of my assistant coaches here in Ottawa, it actually went pretty well.”
After both the CCHL and QMJHL cancelled their respective playoffs, the Olympiques made the decision to fire head coach Éric Landry and bring in Louis Robitaille. Although the ownership group made it clear to Dagenais that they wanted him on Robitaille’s staff, the new head coach saw things differently and hired two new assistant coaches.
“I knew that the ownership group wanted me to remain on the coaching staff, but at the end of the day, it was still the head coach’s decision, and he wanted to bring in his own guys. It’s his decision and I have to respect that.
Dagenais is still thankful that he got to coach at the Major Junior level close to home. He has nothing but good things to say about all the people he met in Gatineau during his time there.
“There’s a lot of amazing people working for this organization, from top to bottom. The team is going to be really good for the next 3-4 years so fans will be threated to some deep playoff runs. And that fan base deserves it.”
Dagenais has had talks with other QMJHL teams, and if he does receive an offer to coach in the Q again, he’ll definitely look at it, but right now, he doesn’t want to think about that. His focus is solely on OJS. His goal is to help build a team who can win a third consecutive Bogart Cup.
“We like our forward group a lot but we are losing some solid defensemen, players that will be tough to replace, so we have a lot of work to do as a staff to make sure we bring the right guys in. As far as goaltending is concern, we’ll be fine. It’s not something we’re worried about right now.”
As far as the staff is concern, Dagenais does not anticipate any changes. As of now, everyone is expected to be back, and for him, that’s great news.
“When people asked me why has OJS been so successful in recent years, I always say it’s because I surround myself with good people. And it’s the truth. We work really well as a group here, and that’s the foundation of our success. No one is bigger than the team. Parents want their sons to play for us because we do things the right way and we’re involved in hockey for the right reasons. We truly care about our players and they know it.”
As of today, the Junior Sens Evaluation Camp is scheduled to take place on the first weekend of July (3-5) but this could once again change depending of what Hockey Canada decides. Current and future players are asked to regularly check the team’s Twitter account for updates.