The Gatineau Olympiques announced on Monday the hiring of Martin Dagenais as the team’s new Assistant Coach. This was Dagenais’ sixth year as the Head Coach and General Manager of the Ottawa Jr. Senators. Under his reign, they have reached the finals every year except for the first one where they lost a semi-final matchup against the Pembroke Lumber Kings in 7 games. The team won the Bogart Cup twice, and followed it up by claiming the Fred Page Cup both times.
“It’s an opportunity that I had to take, but it was not an easy decision. For me, it was important to finish the season with OJS. At first, I don’t think Gatineau was thrilled that I was going to do both. We reached an agreement and we will make it work. I know the next 2-3 months will be real busy for me, but I’m looking forward to it”, said Dagenais.
Attending practices for both teams will not be an issue for Dagenais as Gatineau practices from 9:30am to 11am during the week while Ottawa is on the ice from 4pm to 5:30pm. It will be more complicated for games as Dagenais won’t be on the OJS bench for nine of the last 19 games. That being said, he intends to be there for every single playoff games.
“I know missing games is not an ideal situation, but at the same time, I have complete trust in my assistant coaches. Jamie Mayo will take the lead, and with the help of Ben Reinhardt, Stuart Battrick, and Chris Kushneriuk, the team will be fine. We also have a strong leadership group led by Owen Cole. It will be their job to make sure the players can transition from one coach to another during these last 19 games. But to be honest, whether it’s me or Jamie Mayo behind the bench, the team’s philosophy stays the same. We certainly won’t be changing the way we play, and the players are all aware of that.”
The Junior Senators who are looking to clinch home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs are still without the services of Owen Cole, Wyatt Villalta, Mark MacPhee, Vincent Velocci, Mac White and Justin Palmer. Dagenais is looking forward to the day that everyone is back so that he can ice a full lineup.
“We’re not happy with the way we’ve played recently. The last two months have been tough for us, but we’ve been in similar situations before, and we found a way out of it so I’m not concerned. People can say whatever they want about our team right now, and maybe they’re right, maybe we’re not as good as the last two seasons, but we believe that we can be. There’s not one team in the CCHL that wants to meet us in the first round, and I don’t blame them. Come playoff time, we’re a different animal. We know what it takes to win.”
Dagenais will be make his debut behind the bench with the Olympiques tonight as they face Val d’Or. Tomorrow night, he’ll be at the Jim Durrell as the Senators will be hosting the Nepean Raiders for the second time this week. He will be back at it with Gatineau on Sunday as the visiting Halifax Mooseheads will be in town.