Quebec junior hockey league commissioner resigns

MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec Major Junior Hockey League commissioner Gilles Courteau announced his resignation Sunday amid intense scrutiny among the province’s politicians over hazing and initiations.

The 65-year-old Courteau announced his departure after 37 years at the helm of the junior hockey league and just a year away from a planned 2024 retirement.

Courteau was in the middle of a political firestorm after testifying at legislature hearings in Quebec City on hazing rituals in hockey last month, when he reassured politicians that none of the allegations described in a Radio-Canada report about an Ontario Superior Court ruling involved the league.

On Sunday, Courteau announced his abrupt departure in a statement in which he said it was time to pass the torch.

Courteau said that “recent events have been on such a scale that my family members have been affected,” in a letter published on social media. He added that continuing in the post would not be the right thing to do.

“When you have dedicated most of your life to an organization, it can be difficult to know when it is time to pass the torch,” Courteau wrote. “Yet, it is the only possible decision once you realize it.”

The Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization for the country’s three major junior leagues, expressed its appreciation for Courteau in a statement later Sunday.

“The Canadian Hockey League would like to thank Gilles Courteau for his extraordinary commitment to the development of hockey in Quebec and the Maritimes as QMJHL commissioner, and across Canada through his involvement with the CHL for close to four decades,” the CHL said in a statement.

Late last year, Courteau announced he would retire part way through the 2023-24 season, after 47 years of involvement in the Quebec league.

In his letter, Courteau said he hoped his departure would be the beginning of a “new direction, a different direction.”

The Associated Press