The Rimouski Oceanic will get four or their five injured players back in the lineup tonight, surprisingly, since head coach Serge Beausoleil spoke earlier in the week at how injuries to Francis Beauvillier, Casey Babineau, Samuel Morin, Maxim Gravel and Vladimir Bryukvin put his team at a disadvantage headed into his series against 13th ranked Gatineau.
It's not a new tactic in hockey's playoff season to be secretive about injuries, whatever level you play. What is a new tactic though, is starting a war of words with the opposing coach. Beausoleil's secrecy about his club's injuries seems to have drawn the ire of Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx, who responded today, saying that "there's two things Serge Beausoleil really loves doing: talking, and buying a newspaper to read the next day."
The following quotes (and the one above) are my translations from French to English.
Beausoleil earlier this week said the following in relation to his player's injuries and whether they'd be healthy to start the series:
I wish I could tell you yes. Unfortunately, that's not what's happening right now. We thought that Morin and Gravel were close to being ready but that doesn't appear to be the case. Not for this weekend, anyway. Not Babineau either. We also lost Ryan MacKinnon for perhaps 3 to 6 weeks." [L'Avantage]
To be fair, Ryan MacKinnon, who was recently hit last Sunday by what Beausoleil described as "un attaque sournoise" or "sneak attack" by Québec's Frederic Bergeron, won't be in the lineup. However, three players specifically mentioned by Beausoleil miraculously recovered:
Rimouski annonced that Samuel Morin , Maxime Gravel, Casey Babineau, Francis Beauvillier & Vladimir Bryukvin will all play in game 1 vs Gat
— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) March 22, 2013
Groulx suggested that he learned from his "contacts" that some players would be back from injury, which gives us the impression that the QMJHL playoffs is more like a spy movie than a hockey game. Low seeds like the Olympiques are in tough enough in the 1-versus-16 style of field the QMJHL has played: in the last two seasons under this format, no team seeded 14th or lower has won a game. While Rimouski are officially the fourth seed, they were a point ahead of Telus West Division champion Blainville-Boisbriand, who beat Acadie-Bathurst 6-1 in the series opener Thursday night.
So matter of fact comments made by Beausoleil that his team wasn't favourited in the series really grinded Groulx's gears. "I think", Beausoleil told l'Advantage newspaper, "that we can even have the audacity to say that with their team well-rested and fully healthy unlike ours, we can't be favourites in the series."
Groulx was quick to shut that down:
"It sucks for his players to see him say his club is the underdog in this series even though they finished their in the QMJHL in the points category. They proved all through the season that they have talent and the necessary character to surmount obstacles. He's taking away a lot of credit and due from his players by talking like this that way. When we won the Cup in 2008, we finished third in the league. If I had made a commentary like that about my players in the first round, my leaders would have knocked on my door to see if I'd fallen on my head. They were proud of finishing third. They were ready to live with the pressure that came with that ranking. Beausoleil's players deserve a lot more credit than to say 'they're underdogs against Gatineau'."
The Olympiques head coach also went after an lengthy positive rant Beausoleil made about defenceman Etienne Boutet, who spent time with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the AHL preseason and was formerly property of Rimouski. Groulx said "we're could comment on his players, but we won't because we have too much respect for Philippe Boucher and the way he's built his organization at Rimouski. I know what Serge is trying to do."
So nobody's really avoiding the bulletin board material. Normally, coaches try to restrict the words made by players that make it into the newspaper and the blogs during the playoffs, but in Québec, the normal rules tend to not apply.
As mentioned by Jean-François Plante, who did a fantastic job compiling the quotes from both Beauvilier and Groulx, Gatineau's Martin Reway and Rock Régimbald will also make it into the lineup tonight after their status was questionable earlier in the week.