One of the very best Junior A hockey coaches in Ontario is on the market.
Marc Lafleur and the Hearst Lumberjacks have parted ways, just over a year after he led what was a second-year franchise to the 2018-2019 Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship.
The soon-to-be 45-year old Lafleur, who is a Hearst product, also had prior championship success as an NOJHL coach and general manager with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
A teacher by trade with a master’s degree in education, Lafleur also coached in the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League, as an assistant with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. And he played the game at the Division 1, American college level at Bemidji State University.
Officially, Lafleur is departing Hearst and the NOJHL to be with his wife and their two kids, who live in Almonte, Ontario, which is just outside Ottawa. Lafleur’s wife and her family have roots in the Almonte area.
Lafleur told Hockey News North that he wants to stay in the game as long as he can be reasonably close to his wife and kids.
“I can handle an eight hour drive but not an eleven hour drive,” he relayed. (Almonte is about an 11-hour drive from Hearst.)
To be sure, the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on Junior A hockey and its financial picture undoubtedly played a role in the NOJHL Lumberjacks moving on from Lafleur as a full-time coach and general manager.
Meanwhile, as Lafleur departs Hearst as the Lumberjacks coach and general manager, the NOJHL team has named 29-year old Marc-Alain Begin as its new bench boss.
Begin was Lafleur’s assistant in Hearst the past three NOJHL seasons. Begin is also a former NOJHL scoring star with the erstwhile Abitibi Eskimos.