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Éric Gélinas: Road to the NHL runs through the ‘Q’

Éric Gélinas will be blogging on THN.com throughout the 2008-09 QMJHL season. (Photo is courtesy of Ron Morin.)

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Éric Gélinas will be blogging on THN.com throughout the 2008-09 QMJHL season. (Photo is courtesy of Ron Morin.)

By Éric Gélinas

Welcome to my new blog! I’m Éric Gélinas and I am a defenseman for the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

I thought I would use this first entry to let everyone know a little bit about where I’m from and how I got to where I am. I was born in Vanier, Ont., right outside of Ottawa. I lived there with my dad, mom, and brother Karl until I was about seven years old, then we moved to Montréal, which is where I now call home.

Sports have always been a big part of my family. My dad, Marc, was drafted by baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates in 1978. He played for two years at the rookie and single-A levels before being released. My older brother Karl followed in his footsteps. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in 2003 and played at the single-A level before making the big jump to triple-A at Salt Lake City for a few games. Currently, he is playing in the Can-Am baseball league with the Quebec Capitales.

Karl and I started playing baseball and hockey when I was three years old. Karl played hockey until he suffered a concussion in bantam. After that he decided to stick with baseball. I wanted to stay on the ice.

About five years ago, my parents got a divorce. The whole situation really shook me up, but I used it to focus all my energy on hockey. Every chance I got, I was at the rink. That was when things started picking up in my hockey career. When I was in bantam, my dad got me an agent. Soon after, my agent started having me work with former NHL defensemen Eric Desjardins and Alain Nasreddine. That same year, I switched from forward to defense. A lot happened that year.

In 2007, I became draft-eligible in the ‘Q.’ I knew I was going to go in the first round, but as for what team, that was anybody’s guess. Before the draft I spoke to 16 of the 18 teams in the QMJHL.

The day before, my dad and agent had narrowed it down to the three teams they thought might choose me. The Moncton Wildcats had shown some interest when I played in the Central Scouting Challenge in Montreal. Baie-Comeau also spoke with me a few times, but they had interviewed a lot of defensemen and my chances of going there were a lot less likely than another team.

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The day before the draft I met with the Lewiston MAINEiacs. Coach Ed Harding had called me earlier in the summer to see if I would go to Lewiston if they drafted me, but I had not heard anything from them since. When my dad and I went into the room, team owner Mark Just was there along with the coaching staff.

My dad had some real concerns about the education portion of the hockey program. Mr. Just answered all of my dad’s questions and convinced him Lewiston was the place to go.

When it came time for the draft I was pretty certain it was between Baie-Comeau and Lewiston. Finally, when the MAINEiacs picked 16th overall, they called my name. It was quite an honor to be chosen by the reigning President Cup champions in the first round.

Now that I have been in the league for a year, I’m getting ready for my NHL draft year. I’ve tried to keep my focus the same as it was in midget triple-A: Just keep it simple. Sometimes I try too hard to make a play; I need to just relax and do what comes natural.

The team is getting ready to head out on the road. We have our longest and most challenging road trip of the year; two games back-to-back in Cape Breton then one more in Halifax.

I am looking for some revenge on this trip. The Eagles took us out in the 2008 playoffs in six games. They are off to a good start this year, but I think if we skate fast and finish our checks, we can beat them.

This will be a good chance for our rookies and our team to be tested. We’re young this year, but we have heart. Our teamwork in the dressing room is reflected on the ice, and that is going to cause a lot of headaches for the other teams in the ‘Q.’

Until next time…


A 6-foot-2, 190-pound defenseman, Éric Gélinas is in his second season with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior League after putting up three goals and 19 points in 54 games last season. The St-Jean-sur-Richelie, Que., native is eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He will be blogging for THN.com throughout the season. 

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