If you’ve never heard this type of story before, welcome to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Fans of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, led by Martin Briault, raised $875 before Game 6 of their President’s Cup final series against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in support of their head coach Mario Durocher.
It sounds like they may have to pass the hat around again, as the Val-d’Or bench boss continued to have the league’s officiating crew in his crosshairs.
Durocher had been fined $1,000 for criticizing the officiating after Game 4 of the series, a game Val-d’Or lost 4-3 in overtime. The $875 came from fans who felt the criticism of the officiating from the team’s coach was justified.
Baie-Comeau went 2-for-6 on the man advantage in Game 4, while Val-d’Or went 0-for-5.
“It’s up to the league to pull up its pants,” Durocher said after the fourth game, followed by a French swear.
Durocher was touched by the move.
“It’s a nice gesture by our fans and I appreciated it,” he said. “The referees are part of the game and all I want is that it’s [called] fair and even.”
The series is going to a seventh game, and it hasn’t been without controversy. Félix Girard and Anthony Mantha earned misconduct penalties for fighting each other in the last two minutes of Game 6, as part of an on-ice brawl.
Durocher didn’t back off from his comments, apologizing for swearing but not taking anything back. He added that he pulled his netminder Antoine Bibeau late in Game 6 to protect him from injury.
“It’s frustrating, especially since I said before the comment that we have no control over the [refereeing] and we have to focus on ourselves,” Durocher added. “At the press conference in Baie-Comeau, I apologized for using a [swear word], and then explained that if there were any questions about the refereeing, it’s up to Richard Trottier [the QMJHL’s director of officiating].
“If this is about the referees, then they are in the wrong. My job is to protect my players. The most important [game] is coming up.”
Game 7 goes Tuesday in Baie-Comeau. The winner advances to the 2014 Mastercard Memorial Cup in London, On.