Eric Belanger at the helm of the Chevaliers Levis
In search of a head coach since the departure of Mathieu Turcotte, the Knights of Lévis have found their man. Éric Bélanger, a former NHL player, will lead the Midget AAA hockey club next season.
The Knights made it known by press release on Tuesday at the end of the day. The name of Bélanger, who played 820 games with seven teams in the NHL, had been circulating for a few days as successor to the one who was named assistant coach with the Voltigeurs of Drummondville.
“I am very happy to join the Knights, where I will be able to continue the development of the players of the South Shore. I think I have been doing my classes for three years in the Blizzard structure of Séminaire Saint-François [SSF]. I was ready to move to another level and the opportunity arose, “he said Tuesday, after the announcement of his appointment.
After leading SSF’s Bantam AAA club, Bélanger found himself at the helm of Typhoons, in the midget hope, for the last two years. After losing in the final at the Provincial Championships in 2018, his troupe won gold in 2019. He also claimed a bronze medal at the Quebec Games as an assistant. No less than five players he led with the Typhoons were selected in the last draft of the QMJHL.
Career in the NHL
“I am very familiar with the players who play in the SSF structure, a little less so than those on the South Shore, apart from having already faced them. But they are guys of the same age, it will not take time to get to know them better. It’s the best of both worlds available to me: I progress in coaching while staying in the Quebec City area, “said the 41-year-old hockey man.
Born in Sherbrooke, Bélanger played three years with the Beauport Harfangs from 1994 to 1997, finishing his junior training in Rimouski. He then began a 14-season career in the NHL after being drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Kings in 1996. He played in Los Angeles, of course, but also in Carolina, Atlanta, Minnesota, Washington, Phoenix and Edmonton. He has 358 career points, including 138 goals.
Father of two daughters aged 16 and 13, Bélanger has since settled in the Quebec City region when he retired. He was also a commentator with the Sports Network (RDS). He agreed on a one-year contract with the Knights.
“I was also in advanced talks with a QMJHL team for an assistant position, but it was in a more distant city. The position of head coach of the Knights could not be better, both in terms of hockey and my family situation.
What makes him happy is that he was chosen for his skills and not for his personal relationships.
“We will not hide it, in hockey, it’s often who you know … But there, I did not know anyone, in Lévis. I went through the interview process after contacting them after Mathieu left. It’s not true that after retiring as a player after 14 seasons, you can become a coach overnight. I did not have the choice to do my classes and my proofs, added the one who says to have always been a good “student and analyst” when he played.