This year has been a struggle for Quebec Tigres coach Martin Delorme. His team’s ambitions have been undone by goalie Riki Tiktuunen‘s struggles to stay healthy; they’re likely to finish with a record barely better than last year. In midseason, Delorme engaged in a public spat with star winger Stephane Mirac. The coach, who was hailed as a savior when he agreed to coach the expansion Tigres last season, is starting to hear jeers from impatient fans.
Delorme’s season took a major turn for the worse this week as he was arrested for drunk driving, an embarrassment that only got worse when his arrest led to the revelation of the coach’s messy personal life.
The arrest happened early Monday morning, a few hours after the Tigres’ 1-0 overtime victory over Hershey at Centre Citadelle. Delorme was pulled over in the village of Saint-Anselme around 4 AM after he was spotted driving erratically. He failed the field sobriety tests and blew 0.14 on the Breathalyzer. The coach was also noted to be disheveled, a rarity for him, and was wearing s suit jacket and undershirt, but no shirt. Delorme was arrested and held overnight before being released.
“It was very poor judgment on my part,” said Delorme. “I am ashamed of my actions.”
Little did Delorme realize that the arrest would be only the beginning of his problems. Reporters found the incident odd for a number of reasons. For one thing, Delorme does not have a reputation as a big drinker. For another, Saint-Anselme is not located anywhere near the coach’s home or the team’s facilities. For another, “Martin wouldn’t leave the house unless he was perfectly dressed,” in the words of one reporter. “Clearly, something weird was going on.”
To get to the bottom of it, reporters began trying to reconstruct Delorme’s activities after the game. With some investigative work, they were able to piece together a timeline. After the game and his postgame interviews, Delorme was seen leaving the arena with a woman not his wife. (The coach’s wife has not been seen at games for most of the season.) Later, Delorme and the woman were seen together at a bar in Levis, across the river from Quebec. Later, the pair went back to the woman’s house, where they apparently stayed until the woman’s husband arrived home unexpectedly. At that point, the coach fled and drove away, until he was pulled over a short distance away.
Stories about Delorme’s wild night broke on Wednesday, shortly before the Tigres’ game against Hamilton. The coach reacted angrily when questioned about his activities. “This is none of your concern,” Delorme snapped. “This is not news; nothing but gossip. What job is it of yours to examine my bedsheets? I do not have to respond to this inquisition.”
Quebec players were hesitant to discuss the incident. “It’s definitely a surprise, that’s for sure,” said LW Stellan Fisker. “We wer all pretty shocked. I don’t really know the details, so there’s not a lot I can say. But it’s a tough break for Coach Delorme.”
Word of the incident traveled fast. When the Tigres came to Washington on Friday to play the Galaxy, the Jumbotron displayed Delorme behind the bench while “Loverboy” by Billy Ocean blared over the speakers as the fans laughed and cheered. After the game, a 3-2 Quebec win, Delorme called the stunt “unprofessional,” but had no further comment.
Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle couldn’t resist poking fun at the incident in his postgame press conference. “Boy, Martin’s got himself in a mess, hasn’t he?” said Reagle with a giggle. “I wouldn’t have expected that out of him. He seems like a careful sort of guy. But I guess that’s how it goes with French guys, right? That swingin’ lifestyle… Personally, as a married man, I’m really surprised. I mean, I can’t even get dressed in the morning without my wife’s help. If I was going to have an affair, I’d probably have to ask her to help me set it up.”