Michel Mongeau
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Michel Mongeau

Michel Mongeau played in the IHL for 11 years and was one of the leader of his team and the league. Aside from winning many individual awards, he won the Turner Cup in the early '90s with his team, Peoria. He also played about fifty games in the NHL with the St.Louis Blues and the Tampa Bay Lightning de Tampa Bay. In an interview with HockeyZone's François Coulombe in early december 1999, he talks about his hockey career.

HockeyZonePlusWhen did you start playing in Europe?
Michel Mongeau - In February 1999, I played 9 games for Asiago in Italy. I was there only one month, just long enough for a short vacation. Since September 1999, I’ve been playing for Bienne in Switzerland in the B league. There are 10 teams, and we play two games a week for a 36-game season.

HockeyZonePlusHow have you been adjusting to European hockey?
Michel Mongeau - It’s difficult. I have a rough time getting used to the European style of play. Sometimes, the days are very long...

Michel Mongeau

Season  Team        Lea   GP   G   A PTS PIM
1982-83 Laval       QMJHL 24   4   6  10   2

1983-84 Laval       QMJHL 60  45  49  94  30
1984-85 Laval       QMJHL 67  60  84 144  56
1985-86 Laval       QMJHL 72  71 109 180  45
1986-87 Saginaw     IHL   76  42  53  95  34
1988-89 Flint       IHL   82  41  76 117  57
1989-90 Peoria      IHL   73  39  78 117  53
1989-90 St.Louis    NHL    7   1    5   6   2
1990-91 Peoria      IHL   73  41  65 106 114
1990-91 St.Louis    NHL    7   1    1   2   0
1991-92 Peoria      IHL   32  21  34  55  77
1991-92 St.Louis    NHL   36   3  12  15   6
1992-93 Milwaukee   IHL   45  24  41  65  69
1992-93 Halifax     AHL   22  13  18  31  10
1992-93 Tampa Bay   NHL    4   1   1    2   2
1993-94 Peoria      IHL   52  29  36  65  50
1993-94 Cornwall    AHL    7   3  11  14   4
1994-95 Peoria      IHL   74  30  52  82  72
1995-96 Peoria      IHL   24   5  17  22  24
1996-97 Detroit     IHL   31  12  11  23  30
1996-97 Phoenix     IHL   16   4  10  14   8
1996-97 Milwaukee   IHL   31   6  19  25  29
1997-98 Quebec      IHL   34   5  12  17  18
1997-98 Manitoba    IHL   43  12  22  34  24
1998-99 Joliette    QSPHL 23  25  26  51
1998-99 Asiago      Italy  9
1999-00 Bienne      Switzerland

Birthdaye: February 9, 1965
Birthplace: Ile des Soeurs, Québec

HockeyZonePlusHave you started planning your retirement from hockey?
Michel Mongeau - I’ll deal with it when I get there. It’s something that is always difficult to face.

HockeyZonePlusWhat kind of relationship do you plan to have with hockey after you retire as a player? Any interest in becoming a coach or scout?
Michel Mongeau - My link with hockey will be as a fan of the game.

HockeyZonePlusWhat is the highlight of your career so far?
Michel Mongeau - Winning the Turner Cup (IHL Championship) in 1991 with Peoria.

HockeyZonePlusWhat have been the most difficult moments of your career?
Michel Mongeau - The trades and the pressure that teams put on foreign players in Europe.

HockeyZonePlusYou have played for several coaches. In your opinion, what makes a good coach?
Michel Mongeau - Someone with a good judgment who communicates well with his players.

HockeyZonePlusIn ‘91-‘92, after 4 years in the IHL, you got the chance to play half a season in the NHL with the St.Louis Blues. How was that experience?
Michel Mongeau - Too short! It was a dream come true for me.

HockeyZonePlusCan you tell us the story of the incident in the IHL, in the mid 90’s, with Chris Tamer?
Michel Mongeau - I was skating toward the goal and I stopped to fake a shot on goal. That’s when Tamer caught up me with me and cross-checked me from behind. I fell head first on the goal post and got 7 fractures to the face : upper-jaw, left cheek, nose and both eye sockets. I now have 3 metal plates in my face. The rehab was very difficult and painful. My jaw was wired for a month and my face was very sensitive. Eating with a straw is quite an adventure and a very good way to lose weight... It took 10 months before I could play again and it changed my style drastically.

HockeyZonePlusYou sued Chris Tamer. How did that go and was there any pressure to make you drop the legal procedures?
Michel Mongeau - At the first trial, we got no result because a ‘strong woman’ in the jury made it turn into a mistrial. At the second trial, the jury side with me but also decided that it was an accident. Go figure. I didn’t get any compensation and my lawyer got $60,000 in debt.

At first, there was no pressure on me to drop the case. Later on, there was. The players and coaches testified during the first trial but were not there for the second one. There was pressure on the coaches and, as for the players, we could not force them to testify and it was the summer so they were all gone.

HockeyZonePlusWho was your idol when you were young?
Michel Mongeau - Guy Lafleur and the Montréal Canadiens. Later, it was Wayne Gretzky.

HockeyZonePlusDuring your 11-year career in the IHL, you won different awards (All Star Team, best scorer of your team, etc.) and won some trophies (Turner Cup, Ironman Award, Bud Poile Trophy, Longman Trophy, Lamoureux Trophy, Gatschene Trophy, etc). Which one gave you the most pride and satisfaction?
Michel Mongeau - Without a doubt, winning the Turner Cup. The adrenalin rush and feeling during the last game was unbelievable.

HockeyZonePlusIn the last game that Mario Lemieux played in junior in Laval, Québec, he had to get 11 points to beat some league record. To the delight of the crowd, he managed to accomplish the impossible in a blowout win of his team, the Voisins. You were a member of the team, what are your memories of the event?
Michel Mongeau - He needed 3 goals to tie the record of most goals in a season that Guy Lafleur had. We all knew it and we also knew that with Mario, everything was possible. Mario scored 6 goals and got 5 assists. Unbelievable! He even managed to help our policeman, Michel Bourque, score a goal. Mario didn’t really need our help. When he was determined to play, it was impossible to stop him.

HockeyZonePlusWhat’s your opinion on the need for goons in hockey?
Michel Mongeau - Goons have always been part of hockey and will always be. I am not against them as long as they act within the rules. When you have a strong guy on your team who knows his role and can play, it can help his teammates feel safer.

HockeyZonePlusDuring your last two years in the IHL, you played for five different teams. How did you deal with that?
Michel Mongeau - It was difficult. I don’t like change so trades have always been difficult for me. Furthermore, during those two years, I underwent two operations (knee and 4 hernias to the stomach) and those injuries were hampering my performance. The teams were unhappy at my performance and didn’t have the patience to let me heal. It was very, very frustrating.

HockeyZonePlusCan you tell us any anecdotes that happened during your career?
Michel Mongeau - I can’t think of any right now where I was involved but I remember a guy who was playing for Cape Breton in the American Hockey League. He got called up to the NHL by the Edmonton Oilers. It was his first time in the NHL and he was very excited. Three days later, the Edmonton Oilers management called Cape Breton to ask where the player was. Nobody knew. The next day, the guy showed up in Edmonton. He didn’t know that he had plane tickets and drove 4 days to get to Edmonton! It’s amazing how we can do stupid things when we’re rookies...


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