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Gilles Courteau owes part of his success to his wife

A young hockey and baseball enthusiast, Gilles Courteau, 29, has become the new president of the QMJHL. Gilles, a young teenager, was in charge of hockey teams and especially one of the best provincial pee-wee baseball teams in Quebec, the Saint-Sacrement Olympics. The only team he couldn’t beat was Shawinigan-Sud.

Even today, it still reminds me of that particular baseball game that was played at the Trois-Rivières Pee-Wee Tournament. A team from Montreal showed up at the stadium, wearing beautiful uniforms and with full confidence to beat their formation. After two sets, Saint-Sacrement Olympiques led 13-0. Montreal’s opposing team’s coach was … their humble servant.

You are from Mauricio.

I was born in Trois-Rivières. My father Jean-Marie’s job with the Canadian Pacific Railway required him to work outside of Trois-Rivières all the time. Alain, Josée and I were able to count on our wonderful mother, Annette, a housewife who also worked as a seamstress.

Did you play sports when you were young?

I played hockey, but especially enjoyed playing baseball in the École Saint-Sacrement schoolyard.

Baseball coach, who played an important role in your life.

Following my role, the sporting leaders of the region made me understand that I should think about getting involved in the leadership of the youth team of Draveurs de Trois-Rivières led by Michel “Le Tigre” Bergeron.

Did you have a family vacation?

Summer vacation was in Quebec City, where my father worked for a period of two weeks.

His first car was a total loss.

My first car was a magnificent Datsun 210 that I bought from Michèle Bergeron, the Tiger’s wife. Unfortunately, as a result of an accident, the car was a total loss.

Very young, you joined the Draveurs de Trois-Rivières.

My high school math teacher, Sylvain Cinq-Mars, recommended to Les Draveurs that Gaston Leblanc become a team statistician and that I be his assistant.

Your typing lessons got you in trouble at school.

I accompanied the Draveurs on the way. Very often, the next morning, I would not show up for school. One morning my father said to me, “Son, the school told me that you seem to miss your morning class a lot.” I replied, “No, Dad, I think the cover of Les Draveurs is part of my lessons.” After this meeting, I understood that I had to be at school every morning.

Was the Draveur worth working for?

And how ! My salary was $ 250, of which $ 125 was paid for the Christmas period, and the other $ 125 was paid after the season ended.

What are your manual and culinary skills?

I’d like to start by pointing out that I have no idea which edge we turn a screw on, so let’s forget about manual work. However, in recent years, I have greatly improved my culinary skills.

The journalists Claude Loranger and Yves Goulet have hired him.

Claude Loranger volunteered to cover minor hockey for theTrois-Rivières Weekly. Yves Goulet hired me as a sports journalist for CKTR radio.

Did you have other jobs in Trois-Rivières?

Before joining QMJHL, I worked on the IPC with Debbie Savoy-Morel, the wife of Denis Morel, the former NHL referee.

What was Michel Bergeron like as a boss?

Michel gave me a good understanding of the bottom of youth hockey. As demanding as he was with us, he was with himself. It was important for him that I see from the crowd which leaders of the opposing teams were attending the game, because it allowed him to know if there was interest in any of his players.

Post-game meals in the restaurant.

We went to the restaurant of his good friend, Jean-Yves Descormiers. I listened to Michel analyze the game and above all say how to improve. Every now and then he would ask me if he knew a babysitter for his children. Yes, you understand, I was offering my services.

At 18 you took the big step towards Quebec.

Mr. Paul Dumont invited me to join him and Hélène Morency as maintenance staff within the QMJHL. I never regretted it. In addition, I later worked for the Nordiques and as general manager of Remparts de Québec.

Was the work schedule difficult?

I was staying in a pension with Mme Perkins. In fall, winter and spring, work hours did not count. Summer was the opposite. If the weather was not favorable, he had to go back to the office. The other days I could relax and play golf.

You have two wonderful children.

My children, Louis Jean and Jessie, are amazing people and have always been my inspiration.

His wife sacrificed a singing career.

My wife, France Ebacher, sacrificed her career to join me from Trois-Rivières to Quebec and then to the Montreal area. At the beginning of our life as a couple, it was his salary that paid for all our expenses. I confess that the success of my career is largely thanks to your support and your love for me.

Why are you so grateful to Normand Brousseau and Serge Savard?

In 1986 I was appointed interim president of the QMJHL. Normand Brousseau, one of the governors of the QMJHL, asked Serge Savard, general manager of Canadiens, to support my candidacy as president of the QMJHL with the other governors. After the Governors meeting at the Montreal Forum, I was summoned to Ronald Corey’s living room. At the age of 29, I became the president of the QMJHL.

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