There is no longer a big-league baseball team in Montreal, but the closest junior hockey team apparently has a new designated quitter.
New Jersey Devils first-round pick Stefan Matteau's turbulent season, which has included being suspended by the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for rough play, missing out on Team USA's world junior championship triumph and making his NHL debut at age 18, has taken a rather volatile twist. Details are slowly being filled in, but Stéphane Leroux (@StephRDSJunior) of Réseau des sports (RDS) is reporting that Matteau has quit the Armada, who are down 2-0 in to Baie-Comeau in a QMJHL semifinal series. It's understandable that a 19-year-old could have trouble working through frustration, but he has created a spectacle.
Armada GM Joël Bouchard is holding a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Monday to clarify the situation. Both RDS and QMI Agency states that the 19-year-old Matteau did not even take the team bus home after being benched during the third period on Saturday.
L'entraîneur de l'Armada, Jean-François Houle, n'a pas utilisé son attaquant vedette après qu'il ait écopé d'une punition pour avoir donné un coup de bâton dans un revers de 2-1, samedi. Blainville-Boisbriand tire de l'arrière 0-2 dans cette série.
Après la partie, il n'aurait pas accompagné ses coéquipiers pour rentrer à la maison après la deuxième rencontre. Il serait rentré à bord de l'autobus des partisans. (RDS)
Is the awkwardness doubled, trebled or quadrupled since the forward's father, former NHLer Stéphane Matteau, is a member of the Armada's coaching staff?
On Saturday, the Drakkar prevailed 2-1 after making a goal with 1:14 left in the second period stand up. That came just 10 seconds after Matteau finished sitting out a slashing penalty that Houle felt was undisciplined.
«Je n'ai pas apprécié sa pénalité [coup de bâton] écopée en fin de deuxième période, avait indiqué Houle à l'Agence QMI. On a des valeurs au sein de notre équipe. [Le hockey] n'est pas un sport individuel.» (QMI Agency)
Working translation: "We have values on our team. [Hockey] is not an individual sport."
Matteau plays with an edge, but he was prone to disciplinary lapses during the regular season, when he had 70 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Armada. It is the coach's prerogative to send a message to a player, especially when the penalty led to the game's decisive moment.
Talk about a player whose season has gone sideways. It's a soap opera and it's too early to say whether this does irreparable harm to Matteau's hockey career. Drawing conclusions about the Devils' decisions is fairer game. The franchise, which was stripped of a first-rounder after the NHL ruled it circumvented the salary cap while signing Ilya Kovalchuk, was widely questioned for even using its first-rounder in 2012. What was the point of hanging on to second-last pick of the first round in a weak draft year, then rushing him to the NHL to perform in spot duty, disrupting a crucial development season?
Taking Matteau also painted the Devils into a corner where they likely going to have to give up their first-rounder in the fecund 2014 draft. Missing out on a possible shot at an elite youngster such as the Barrie Colts' Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice's Sam Reinhart or Kingston Frontenacs' Roland McKeown is a hefty price to pay to take a player who seems to be struggling with some maturity issues. Walking off a team in a playoff series could be viewed as beyond the pale, if indeed that's what happened. Teachable moment, definitely.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.