Roger Shannon brings his hunger to win with the Cats
Like a loyal dog, winning follows Roger Shannon everywhere he goes.
He continued to add to his impressive resume last season as assistant general manager of the Shawinigan Cataractes. That club was upset by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the second round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, but then recovered to capture the 2012 Memorial Cup.
“It was wonderful because of the ups and downs,’ he said. “I still believe that getting beat early in the playoffs is the reason we won the Memorial Cup. I think that winning the Memorial Cup was about being as hungry as you could possibly be knowing that you’re in the tournament as host team.
“There’s three levels. You’re involved, you’re committed and you’re possessed. I think we went into the Memorial Cup tournament at the possessed level. If we would’ve gone all the way through the playoffs to the league final, I’m wondering if we would’ve had that same hunger at the Memorial Cup.’
There were question marks about how Shawinigan would fare given that it had a one-month break leading up to hosting the Memorial Cup.
“I don’t think there was any doubt about our talent,’ said Shannon, who’s now assistant general manager and director of scouting for the Moncton Wildcats. “It was just a matter of whether we were going to be able to rebound.
“We were talented, but in the end it was really about the hard work. It was the commitment level of the guys. It was that possessed feeling of wanting to win the Memorial Cup that caused us to win. It’s a cliche that whoever wants it most gets it. I think it was the case for that team.’
Shannon has eight seasons of QMJHL experience. He was an Acadie-Bathurst Titan scout for three seasons and then served as Lewiston MAINEiacs head scout and general manager for four seasons before joining Shawinigan last season.
He went to Lewiston when it was beginning the rebuilding process in 2007-08. The MAINEiacs showed steady improvement during his time there and lost in the league semifinal in 2010-11, their final season before the franchise folded.
Shannon has also been general manager of the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds for the past 12 seasons. The club has won three Canadian championships and two national silver medals under him and head coach Gardiner MacDougall.
“Roger Shannon brings a lot of winning and a lot of experience to our organization,’ said Moncton head coach and director of hockey operations Danny Flynn. “I think he did an excellent job in Lewiston and he made a real significant contribution in Shawinigan.
“He has good experience in the league as far as scouting. He put together some solid drafts in Lewiston to rebuild that team and he’s also been heavily involved with the University of New Brunswick program and the tremendous success they’ve had.’
Shannon, a Fredericton native, also operates the University of New Brunswick V-Reds Prospects Camp. It’s a successful elite summer hockey program that has helped develop 58 players who went on to become National Hockey League draft picks.
“He’s very familiar with the top prospects in the Atlantic region from working with them at his summer program,’ said Flynn. “He has a great network of contacts throughout the hockey world. We’re excited about him joining the Moncton Wildcats organization.’
After 23 years in the police department in Fredericton, Shannon is now manager of sport tourism for the city. He leads a busy life between his job, family, summer hockey camp and new QMJHL duties with Moncton.
He was part of a Lewiston franchise that endured tough times on and off the ice. The MAINEiacs struggled on the business side with poor attendance and financial losses that added up to their demise.
“It was so unfortunate what happened there,’ said Shannon. “We had a great group of kids and we finally assembled a team that we felt would be a top contender, but the franchise folded. The kids loved playing there, but it was distracting (because of the problems on the business side).
“The one thing I can say about (former Lewiston owner) Mark Just is that the one group that never wanted for anything was the kids. He never spared anything when it came to the kids. Obviously, it was a little tougher for other parts of the organization. We had to be lean (in our operating budget).’
Four members of Lewiston’s organization were part of Shawinigan’s Memorial Cup championship team last season. Shannon and forwards Michael Chaput, Pierre-Olivier Morin and Kirill Kabanov shared in the greatest moment in Cataractes history.
“It would’ve been a lot more difficult to put Shawinigan together if there was a Lewiston MAINEiacs team last season,’ said Shannon. “There’s only so many top guys out there. Chaput, Morin and Kabanov played such a significant role.’
Moncton has captured two QMJHL championships, but hasn’t yet reached its ultimate goal of claiming the Memorial Cup. The Wildcats, who have been rebuilding since their last President Cup in 2009-10, are expected to be among the league’s top contenders this season.
Shannon, goaltender Alex Dubeau, defenceman Jonathan Racine and forward Yannick Veilleux left Shawinigan to join Moncton in June. Dubeau, Racine and Veilleux are part of the trade that sent defenceman Brandon Gormley to Shawinigan midway through last season.
“Coming to Moncton is the same feeling I had when I went to Shawinigan,’ said Shannon. “There’s an expectation (to be a championship contender). It’s a mature group with a lot of returnees. The key ingredients are there. They’ve done a tremendous job in Moncton with the draft and trades and certainly with Europeans.
“I’ve had an opportunity to watch (Russian forward) Ivan Barbashev (who was the first overall pick in the 2012 Canadian Hockey League import draft). He’s an exciting player. (Czech forward) Dmitrij Jaskin is good, too. I already know what Dubeau, Racine and Veilleux bring.
“Moncton has had tremendous success, but I know they want to win the Memorial Cup. I want to help bring to Moncton that feeling of what it’s like to win the Memorial Cup. Once you get a taste of it, you want to have that feeling again. It makes you more hungry.’