It was announced yesterday by the general manager of the Blainville-Broisbriand Armada, Joel Bouchard, that prized prospect Stefan Matteau was released by the organization following his unacceptable behavior on and off the ice.
The Armada trail the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 2-0 in a best-of-seven Quebec Major Junior Hockey League semifinal series following two one-goal losses in Baie-Comeau for which Matteau is in part responsible. The last straw was apparently an undisciplined penalty that Matteau took in Game 2 last Saturday, which led to the game’s deciding goal. Matteau was nailed to the bench in the third period following that penalty.
“We demand two things from all our players — to play with effort in the team system and to be a good, respectful teammate,” said Bouchard, who added it was not the first time Matteau has been in trouble. A former defenseman, Bouchard played 364 games in the NHL for eight different teams.
Reportedly unhappy with his ice time, the 19-year-old son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau, who is an assistant coach with the Armada, did not get on the team bus after a loss in Baie-Comeau, on Sunday, but rode back home on a fan bus instead. “We’ve told him several times that his behaviour was unacceptable in our organization and we often had to call him on the carpet this season,” added Bouchard.
Earlier this season, when he was suspended for one game by the QMJHL because of a check from behind penalty in a game against Chicoutimi on October 20, the Armada suspended him for an additional game. He also received a one-game suspension from the league earlier in the season for being the aggressor in a fight.
Born in Chicago when his father was playing for the Blackhawks, Matteau, who grew up in Blainville, a suburb north of Montreal, was drafted 29th overall by New Jersey in June 2012 and began the shortened season with the Devils. The big-frame forward had a single goal and two assists for three points in 17 NHL games, being a healthy scratch more often than not, before he was assigned to the Armada.
He had 18 goals and 10 assists for 28 points in 35 games with Blainville-Broisbriand this season, before adding 9 points in 11 playoff games.
The youngster has yet to comment the decision of the team and his agent, Pat Brisson, confirmed that Matteau has not officially left the Armada. Since it’s not an official release, Matteau cannot play anywhere else before the Armada is eliminated from the playoffs, which means he cannot play for the Devils or their AHL affiliate, like Mikhail Grigorenko did when the Quebec Remparts were eliminated.
In the previous round, Matteau provoked the vanquished Val-d’Or Foreurs during the traditional and usually respectful post-series handshakes when he mimicked a golf swing at the Foreurs.
Prior to this junior career, Matteau had initially committed to playing college hockey at the University of North Dakota, but he later joined the Armada after they acquired his QMJHL rights in exchange for three draft picks from a small-market team, the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, for which Matteau refused to play. Chicoutimi is three hours north of Quebec City, which is three hours east of Montreal.
Stefan Matteau Hit On Philippe Archambault Oct 20, 2012
Bouchard said he considers the case closed and wants his team to focus on the playoffs. “Our whole team is concentrating on our next two games Tuesday and Wednesday,” he said.
“He’s not with the team at the choice of the team. It’s my understanding it’s a mutual choice,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. “I have not spoken to him. This all happened in the last day or so and I have spoken to the general manager Joel Bouchard and I support what has transpired. But until I speak to the player, I really don’t have anything to add.
It is still unknown what will happen with the young Matteau, but Lamoriello said the first-round pick will not be brought to New Jersey for the final three regular season games. In the meantime, the Armada will face the Drakkar tonight in Blainville-Boisbriand for game 3 of the best-of-seven series.
A long-time Joe Sakic fan, Fred, 35, is a freelance sports writer and translator. Fred earned a Bachelor of Translation in 2002 at Laval University in Quebec City. He also writes on the Montreal Canadiens for HabsAddict.com and he is an associate editor and a baseball columnist on Dobberbaseball.com. He is also fluent in English, French and Spanish.