History of the League
The QMJHL – The Beginning
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League began play in 1969.
Since its creation, the major junior hockey circuit (which used to be called the Quebec Junior A League) has witnessed several great players launch their careers and each marked the League in his own way. Builders, players and coaches have all contributed to the rise and the excellence of major junior hockey because in Eastern Canada thanks to their talent, passion, efforts and respect for the country’s national sport.
In 1969, the QMJHL housed 11 teams, led by President and Founder Mr. Robert LeBel (PHOTO). The league was comprised of the Cornwall Royals, Drummondville Rangers, Laval Saints, Quebec Remparts, Rosemont National, Shawinigan Bruins, Sherbrooke Castors, Sorel Éperviers, St-Jérôme Alouettes, Trois-Rivières Ducs and Verdun Maple Leafs.
Offence has always been the name of the game in the QMJHL. From the start, tremendous crowds fueled the fires of stars such as Luc Simard (Trois-Rivières), Guy Lafleur (Quebec) and Richard Leduc (Trois-Rivières).
The Quebec Remparts won the first two President Cups (1970 & 1971). The club was led by head coach Maurice Filion who today is a member of the QMJHL Hall of Fame. Guy Lafleur, André Savard and Jacques Richard were amongst the leaders on a team filled with talent. Moreover, they were the first to capture the Memorial Cup, the emblem of Canadian major junior hockey supremacy.
The seventees enable the Remparts to capture three other titles while the Sherbrooke Castors, led by Ghislain Delage, and the Trois-Rivières Draveurs, coached by Michel Bergeron, won four titles among them.
Also, Doug Gilmour, Dave Hawerchuk and Marc Crawford helped a strong Cornwall Royals squad win two President Cups in the eightees as well as two national championships.
The QMJHL’s Superstar Alumni
QMJHL players represent a good portion of the NHL’s elite.
Raymond Bourque, Mario Lemieux (PHOTO), Pat Lafontaine, Pierre Turgeon, Patrick Roy, Denis Savard and Luc Robitaille to name but a few all developped their games for professional hockey in the QMJHL.
The Titan, the Olympiques and the Saguenéens captured most of the League’s titles in the ninetees.
During that time, several prominent junior coaches made the jump to the NHL including Alain Vigneault, Robert Hartley, Michel Therrien and Claude Julien.
The Memorial Cup came back to the QMJHL in 1996 with the Granby Prédateurs and the Hull Olympiques capturing the crown in 1996 and 1997 respectively.
Furthermore, the QMJHL becomes the best development league for elite goaltenders with Martin Brodeur, Emmanuel Fernandez, Marc Denis, Martin Biron, Jean-Sébastien Giguère, José Théodore, Roberto Luongo, and later Marc-André Fleury, Jaroslav Halak, Ondrej Pavelec, Jonathan Bernier and Corey Crawford, all learning their trade.
The pipeline for offensive talent to the NHL runs steadily with impact players such as Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagné, Daniel Brière, Jean-Pierre Dumont, Brad Richards, Ales Hemsky, Jason Pominville, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux and Sidney Crosby (PHOTO) making immediat impacts.
Finally, the new millenium confirms the rise of the QMJHL among the Canadian elite.
The Rimouski Océanic (2000), the Quebec Remparts (2006), the Saint John Sea Dogs (2011), the Shawinigan Cataractes (2012 – (PHOTO)) and the Halifax Mooseheads (2013 – PHOTO)) celebrate national championships. The Memorial Cup was won 11 times by the QMJHL teams.
Thus, it is with great pride that the QMJHL offers an opportunity to young hockey players to make their dreams come true and make the jump to the pros while enablig them to earn their degrees so that they may become leaders in tomorrow’s society.
A total of 26 franchises have made their mark in the QMJHL since its birth in 1969.
The League’s oldest franchise still plays in Shawinigan. They have played under several names through the years: Bruins, Dynamos and Cataractes. The Bruins were one of the League’s original franchises in 1969.
Below, fans will find the team logos and colours adopted by the organizations through the years.