The team have won only once in six games since the coach was removed.

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The Quebec Under-18 AAA Development League said it sanctioned and fined the Lac St. Louis Lions organization for its bizarre dismissal of head coach Gerry Gomez last month.

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Yanick Gagné, the league’s general manager, said the Lions didn’t follow league protocol when they took Gomez out just 11 games of the season. At the time, the Lions had a winning record of 7-3-1 and had won back-to-back games.

The Lions have won only once in six games since Gomez’s sacking.

“In our league rules and regulations, we have a procedure whereby the general manager or director of hockey development of the league must be involved before firing a coach or changing coaches (during the season) ”Declared Gagné. “We were informed after the fact.

The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

Gomez said he had not received any explanation as to why he was fired, but Lions president and general manager Raz Saltarelli told him “the team was going in a different direction.” Assistant coach Mark Stefanopoulos has also been canned.

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Gomez said there were no apparent issues with the team and believes he was fired because a hockey parent unhappy with his son’s ice time pressured the club for the dismiss.

Gagné said the league, formerly known as the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League, investigated the case and found no evidence in team documents that the hockey parent in question had a official role or participation in the team. The only owners officially listed on the team board are Saltarelli, Karel Svoboda and a third party who is not related to any member of the team.

“The official reason Gerry was fired is that the Lions want to change direction with the players and the management of the players’ ice time, the use of the players. They’re losing a lot of players throughout the (hockey) structure and they’re trying to find ways to improve that, ”said Gagné. “That’s what we were told.

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Saltarelli did not respond to a Montreal Gazette interview request.

Gomez, 46, was replaced behind the bench by Ron Choules, former coach of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Since his firing, Gomez says he has received a lot of support from people in the hockey community, including Lions players as well as a former captain of the Montreal Canadiens.

Gomez assumed the role of head coach of the Lions three years ago after the departure of Jon Goyens to coach the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL.

Goyens called Gomez’s dismissal a shame. “To be shown the door under these circumstances is shameful. He’s a black eye.

Goyens said the league also bears some responsibility for not intervening.

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“It’s midget AAA, the pinnacle of minor hockey. You have a head coach fired without cause under really embarrassing circumstances. I’ll be honest, the league hasn’t done anything about it.

But Gagné noted that Goyens and Gomez were with the Lions organization long enough to run for the league if they had any concerns about team ownership or organizational structure.

“They both were with the Lions for many years,” he said. “If they had had a problem, they could have come forward. But they didn’t.

Gomez has spent the past 12 years in various minor hockey roles, most notably as Director of the Integrated Structure Development Program for the Lac St. Louis region.

He has yet to be paid for coaching the Lions this season and it is not clear whether he will be paid again. “It left me with a bitter taste in my mouth after everything I gave to Lions.”

The new Lac St-Louis Lions head coach Ron Choules stands behind the bench at the Dollard Civic Center in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on October 27 during a game against Collège Charles-Lemoyne Riverains.
The new Lac St-Louis Lions head coach Ron Choules stands behind the bench at the Dollard Civic Center in Dollard-des-Ormeaux on October 27 during a game against Collège Charles-Lemoyne Riverains. Photo by Dave Sidaway /Montreal Gazette

jmeagher@postmedia.com

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