When the Quebec Tigres came within a game of winning the Vandy in 2018, it looked like we were witnessing the rise of a new powerhouse in the East. Since then, though, the Tigres have largely found themselves treading water. In 2019, Quebec spent most of the season barely above the .500 waterline and never seriously contended for a playoff spot (in spite of their deadline rental of D Matt Cherner). So far, this season is unfolding along similar lines, as the Tigres once again lag behind the Hamilton Pistols and Hershey Bliss.
There are a number of possible explanations for the Tigres’ underwhelming performance. Star RW Stephane Mirac, however, believes he has identified the primary cause: the team’s slow-paced, trapping style of play.
Mirac sounded off about his frustrations after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Washington Galaxy. A reporter asked Mirac about the team’s offensive struggles, and the star winger responded by pointing the finger at coach Martin Delorme’s schemes.
“We have no offense because our game is planned to prevent offense,” Mirac said. “Our top goal is always to jam up the ice with bodies and keep the puck always between the blue lines. It is like a pinball machine. We are taking the skill out of the game and making it slow and ugly. We win 1-0, or they win 2-1, it is all the same.”
The reporter followed up by asking Mirac how he would do things differently. “We need to open up and allow some more flow,” Mirac replied. “When we had no talent years ago, we needed this so we would have a chance to win. But now we have much talent! We don’t have to play slow.”
Asked if he’d discussed this with Delorme, Mirac replied: “Every day in practice I beg for more speed, more room for skill. But every day we play the same, always ugly and slow. I want to scream.”
This is not the first time that Mirac has complained about the team’s playing style, although he has not done so in a while. Back in 2017, he slammed the team’s offense as “slow and predictable” in response to Delorme jokingly calling him a “missing person.”
The coach replied to Mirac’s outburst with a wry smile. “Stephane is a very passionate man, and this is why I love him,” Delorme said. “And he is a local hero, so he plays every game under the magnifying glass. I am grateful for his passion to win and his hatred of losing. But I would rather that he would leave the coaching to me.”
Asked if he had spoken to Mirac about the team’s playing style, Delorme replied, “Naturally we have. Do you think he would go first to reporters? However, I prefer to keep those conversations private.”
The coach echoed his star’s frustration with the team’s overall performance. “Stephane and I share a desire for us to improve,” Delorme noted. “I think we are capable of more than we have shown so far, and I include myself in that. We need to find another level in ourselves to have the chance for the playoffs. I believe Stephane can help us reach that level, but it will take all of us working together to get there.”