The Success of the 2010 Decade
The current 18 teams of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League compete annually for two major trophies. One, in the regular season, the champion team inherits the Jean-Rougeau Trophy, whose name honours one of the former QMJHL presidents from 1981 until his death in 1983. The spring ritual has been putting at stake, for more than 50 years already, the President Cup; it is the Hull/Gatineau Olympiques who have been the most successful at winning the trophy, mainly composed of wood, on seven occasions.
To conclude the calendar, the three champion teams of the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL/OHL/WHL) meet each year in a predetermined city, hosted by the host team which also participates in the Memorial Cup Tournament. In 2019, the QMJHL saw its two teams, the Halifax Mooseheads (host club), and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (playoff champions), reach the final of this competition. Rouyn-Noranda finally defeated the home team 4-2, hoisting the Memorial Cup for the first time in its history. For the QMJHL, it was a fifth Memorial Cup in nine years, and most importantly, the very first decade (2010–2019) when it managed to obtain more titles than its competing leagues, the OHL and the WHL. A very great pride for the Commissioner Gilles Courteau who starts his 36th full season in 2021-22 at the helm of the QMJHL.
The unfinished 2019-20 season
While the Sherbrooke Phoenix and the Moncton Wildcats had already reached the 50-win mark, Thursday, March 12, 2020, will forever be remembered by all QMJHL fans. On that day, the 2019-20 season was supposedly temporarily interrupted due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The 2019-20 season never resumed, so only 572 of the 613 regular season games were played, with the Sherbrooke Phoenix being declared champion. The playoffs had to be cancelled and the President Cup could not be awarded after the final game; a first in 51 seasons…
One year later, the Cup returned on the ice…
THE POST-COVID ERA…
The 2021-22 season (see VIDEO – RECAP), despite a few weeks of inactivity mid-season due to Covid-19—once again—was played in a “near-normal” fashion. The entire 612-game schedule was played, but ended on Sunday, May 1st, more than a month after the original date. As a result, the series format was changed, with best-of-5 series taking place in the first 3 rounds of play. In the final round, the Shawinigan Cataractes surprised the Charlottetown Islanders in a traditional best-of-7 format by eliminating them in 5 games.
Then, in the Memorial Cup tournament hosted in Saint John by the Sea Dogs, the precious trophy was back at stake; in 2020 and 2021, the tournament had been cancelled due to Covid-19. In the grand final, the Saint John Sea Dogs defeated the OHL representatives (Hamilton) to give the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League a third successive Memorial Cup victory. In fact, in the last 10 editions of the competition, the QMJHL has claimed the Memorial Cup on 6 occasions, which is a credit to our Major Junior teams based in Quebec and the Maritimes.
14 titles – Memorial Cup
The QMJHL – The Beginning
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League began play in 1969.
Since its creation, the major junior hockey circuit (which used to be called the Quebec Junior A League) has witnessed several great players launch their careers and each marked the League in his own way. Builders, players and coaches have all contributed to the rise and the excellence of major junior hockey because in Eastern Canada thanks to their talent, passion, efforts and respect for the country’s national sport.
In 1969, the QMJHL housed 11 teams, led by President and Founder Mr. Robert LeBel (PHOTO). The league was comprised of the Cornwall Royals, Drummondville Rangers, Laval Saints, Quebec Remparts, Rosemont National, Shawinigan Bruins, Sherbrooke Castors, Sorel Éperviers, St-Jérôme Alouettes, Trois-Rivières Ducs and Verdun Maple Leafs.
Offence has always been the name of the game in the QMJHL. From the start, tremendous crowds fueled the fires of stars such as Luc Simard (Trois-Rivières), Guy Lafleur (Quebec) and Richard Leduc (Trois-Rivières).
The Quebec Remparts won the first two President Cups (1970 & 1971). The club was led by head coach Maurice Filion who today is a member of the QMJHL Hall of Fame. Guy Lafleur, André Savard and Jacques Richard were amongst the leaders on a team filled with talent. Moreover, they were the first to capture the Memorial Cup, the emblem of Canadian major junior hockey supremacy.
The seventees enable the Remparts to capture three other titles while the Sherbrooke Castors, led by Ghislain Delage, and the Trois-Rivières Draveurs, coached by Michel Bergeron, won four titles among them.
Also, Doug Gilmour, Dave Hawerchuk and Marc Crawford helped a strong Cornwall Royals squad win two President Cups in the eightees as well as two national championships.
The QMJHL’s Superstar Alumni
QMJHL players represent a good portion of the NHL’s elite.
The Titan, the Olympiques and the Saguenéens captured most of the League’s titles in the ninetees.
During that time, several prominent junior coaches made the jump to the NHL including Alain Vigneault, Robert Hartley, Michel Therrien and Claude Julien.
The Memorial Cup came back to the QMJHL in 1996 with the Granby Prédateurs and the Hull Olympiques capturing the crown in 1996 and 1997 respectively.
Furthermore, the QMJHL becomes the best development league for elite goaltenders with Martin Brodeur, Emmanuel Fernandez, Marc Denis, Martin Biron, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, José Théodore, Roberto Luongo, and later Marc-André Fleury, Jaroslav Halak, Ondrej Pavelec, Jonathan Bernier and Corey Crawford, all learning their trade.
The pipeline for offensive talent to the NHL runs steadily with impact players such as Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagné, Daniel Brière, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Brad Richards, Ales Hemsky, Jason Pominville, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby (PHOTO) making immediat impacts. And younger players were added to the list most recently, just think about: Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Sean Couturier, Thomas Chabot (D), Samuel Girard (D) and Noah Dobson (D).
Finally, the new millenium confirms the rise of the QMJHL among the Canadian elite.
The Rimouski Océanic (2000), the Quebec Remparts (2006), the Saint John Sea Dogs (2011), the Shawinigan Cataractes (2012 – (PHOTO)), the Halifax Mooseheads (2013 – (PHOTO)) and more recently, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan (2018- (PHOTO)) and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2019) celebrate national championships. The Memorial Cup was won 14 times by the QMJHL teams, by considering the latest championship of the Saint John Sea Dogs (2022).
Thus, it is with great pride that the QMJHL offers an opportunity to young hockey players to make their dreams come true and make the jump to the pros while enabling them to earn their degrees so that they may become leaders in tomorrow’s society.
A total of 26 franchises have made their mark in the QMJHL since its birth in 1969.
The League’s oldest franchise still plays in Shawinigan. They have played under several names through the years: Bruins, Dynamos and Cataractes. The Bruins were one of the League’s original franchises in 1969.
Below, fans will find the team logos and colours adopted by the organizations through the years.