The Complete World Hockey Association

Jacques Demers
Born: 25 Aug 1944, Montreal PQ


Regular Season & Playoff Coaching Record (key)

Regular Season Playoffs
year team
1975-76 Indianapolis
1976-77 Indianapolis
1977-78 Cincinnati
1978-79 Quebec

• Served as bench coach for Chicago (1973-75).
• Succeeded Gerry Moore on October 21, 1975.
• Coached in NHL, Que (1979-80), StL (1983-86), Det (1986-90), Mtl (1992-96), TB (1997-99).
• Won Stanley Cup as coach of Montreal, 1993.
• Member, WHA Hall of Fame.


Demers a Big Man for Cougars • by Reid Grosky • The Hockey Spectator • March 16, 1973

Earlier in the season, an error went unnoticed from the Chicago Cougars' bench.

Winger Rick Morris, who would become one of the Cougars' top scorers, inadvertently was turning his head toward the boards whenever he stopped on the ice. It cost Morris split seconds to recover, leaving him that much time behind the developing play.

Fortunately, sharp-eyed Jacques Demers was sitting in the stands, Demers tipped off Morris between periods and the defect was corrected.

"He can be a big help," said Morris of Demers, the Cougars' youthful Player Personnel Director, "There might have been a few problems at first, mainly because of his age, but now all the players accept him."

Demers, a baby-faced 28, resembles a player more than a management figure, This, he admits, caused some confusion late last December when the Cougars promoted him from chief scout to his present position.

"We've got guys playing who are older than I am, guys like Reggie Fleming, Larry Cahan, Jimmy McLeod," Demers says. "Sometimes there was a problem communicating."

"I thought it might be resentment. When a young guy like me comes up and starts traveling with the team all of a sudden, they figure I'm just here to fool around. They stayed away from me. I walked into a place and some players turned their backs."

It took Demers about two weeks to crack the shell: "It's 1973 and players are different. If they think you're against them, you're in trouble."

Demers tried out his philosophy successfully as coach of the Chateauguay Wings, a Quebec Junior B team.

When he took over in November 1970, the team was in last place. The Wings finished first that year, and also the next, and young Demers was voted Coach of the Year both seasons. His record during that time: 83-19-9.

Demers' career as a player was not so successful. It ended with a broken leg in the Montreal Junior League, sending him into coaching at the age of 18.

Now, he is director of a summer hockey school just outside Montreal that features Atlanta Flames Goaile Phil Myre as its chief instructor.

With this kind of experience behind him, Demers adds more to the Cougars than the usual duties of a player personnel director — to sign players and to serve as a buffer between player and management.

Demers also can be, at times, both the right and left arm of Coach Marcel Pronovost. He is, in effect, the assistant coach.

"I look at him as the professor; I am the student," says Demers.

A future pro coach? Pronovost answers an emphatic yes to Demers' leadership qualities.

"He's excellent," Pronovost says. "He has a very, very good rapport with the players. He's intense and he's very sincere."

As for Demers' versatility, Pronovost has him doing almost everything.

"Right now," the coach says, "he does all the traveling, all the statistics, goes out and signs players, goes out and interviews players. If I have to go out of town, I don't hesitate to leave the practices in his hands."

At the beginning of the season, Pronovost was the only "hockey man" in the Cougars' organization and bore most of the burden himself. Now both he and Demers are working overtime to mold the Cougars season and for others to come.

Demers, for instance, recently signed his first player — Dave Walter, a 20-year-old whiz for Rhode Island of the Eastern League. Walter had 55 goals and 51 assists at the time of the signing. A 106-point center, not a bad start for the Cougars' future.



Excerpts from Pro Hockey, WHA 1976-77 (by Dan Proudfoot)

"We tried to be fair with the guys," explains Jacques Demers, the director of player personnel who also took over coaching duties five games into the 1975-76 schedule. "I'd warn a fellow that he'd have two weeks to show that he should be kept with the team. Some of them would react by playing one or two great games and then go back to their old ways. That would be it, they'd either be traded or released."

All in all, 38 players appeared in the Indianapolis red, white, and blue — far more than played for any other team — before the final, successful lineup was achieved. "None of the trades were made for the sake of making a trade," Demers continues. "I could see that the people we were getting would fit right into our system.

"You see, we have a strict defensive system. We don't score a lot of goals; in fact, no team in the playoffs had as few goals as us (245). But I believe that if you play properly around your own goal, you'll be a winning team. That's what I preach all of the time. If you win 75 per cent of the faceoffs in your own zone, you'll win the game.

"Well, we were able to get the kind of people who believe in our kind of system. If you have 17 who believe and three who don't, your system isn't going to work.

"You see, when Mr. Deneau and Jim Browitt bought this team, maybe 60 or 70 per cent of the players shouldn't have been in the major leagues. We had to make changes and it turned out they worked for us."


Excerpts from Zander Hollander's Guide to Pro Hockey, 1979-80 (by Reyn Davis)

Gambled on hockey and won ... Parents died when the family was young ... Jacques supported the family by turning to coaching at age 24 ... Took a chance in the WHA and, although franchises folded under him in Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, he built up his experience and ultimately landed the Quebec job ... A stickler for defensive details ... A disciple of Pat Stapleton's way of hockey ... Handles the media well ... Became totally dismayed when the Nordiques crapped out in the playoffs last spring, dropping four in a row to the Winnipeg Jets ... Works closely with his players.




HomeBookCredits & Legal Stuff


(c) Scott Surgent