Michigan Gray Wolves coach Martin Delorme is going home. Delorme, who guided his team to a strong second-place finish in the Western division, has accepted an offer to become the coach of the expansion Quebec Tigres, who take the ice next season.
“From the beginning when I was awarded this team,” said Tigres owner Marc Delattre, “the very first thing I knew was that I wanted Martin to coach us. I am the sort of person who persists until I get that which I desire. And I persisted until I got Martin.”
For the Tigres owner, the appeal of Delorme is clear on a number of levels. Delattre has made a point of seeking out Quebec natives for his team; Delorme was born in Trois Rivieres. Delattre envisions the Tigres as a hard-working, defense-first squad; Delorme is famous around the SHL for molding the Gray Wolves into a defensive powerhouse. Delattre wanted a coach with a good reputation and a strong track record; Delorme is a Coach of the Year candidate for his performance in Michigan.
“If I had tried to create a coach from the ground up that reflected my ideal, I would have created Martin,” said Delattre.
For his part, Delorme admits that it was a very difficult decision to leave Michigan. “It breaks my heart, to be honest with you,” said Delorme. “I am leaving behind unfinished business here. I am walking away from a championship-caliber team. I believe that very strongly. It tears at my heart to leave that behind. However, I could not resist the desire to come back to Quebec and guide the development of this team.”
As part of his deal, Delorme will become the highest-paid coach in the SHL, and he will have a strong say in player personnel decisions alongside GM Pete Gondret. “These were things I was pleased to offer,” said Delattre. “I did not hesitate to offer Martin the amount he was worth. And I wanted him to have the chance to build the team in his image. Since we want the Tigres to be a team worthy of Martin Delorme, who better than the man himself to build the team?”
Delorme said that he hopes to mold the Tigres into a group resembling the Michigan squad he’s leaving behind. “Absolutely, if this team develops on the same lines, I would be very pleased,” said Delorme. “The Gray Wolves work hard, they are not afraid to be physical, and they thrive on controlling the defensive end and winning the battle for the puck. I intend for the Tigres to become a similar sort of physical, aggressive team.”
Gray Wolves GM Tim Carrier issued a statement wishing Delorme well. “Obviously, it’s not an easy thing to lose a coach like Martin Delorme, especially after only one season,” the statement read. “However, it is certainly understandable that he would want to return to his home province and help build the new Quebec franchise. The Gray Wolves organization would like to extend a ‘thank you’ to Coach Delorme for his contributions to the Gray Wolves, and best of luck in his new position. We look forward to meeting Coach Delorme and the Tigres in the championship someday.”
The Gray Wolves have not begun their search for Delorme’s replacement, although sources close to the team say that Hamilton Pistols coach Ron Wright and Washington Galaxy assistant Keith Shields are both strong possibilities.