A lot has been made of the fact that Chapdelaine is the first Francophone Head Coach of the Alouettes. Being of mixed heritage, “je m’en Christ” is my considered opinion. Speaking of Saviours…I’d like to be the 1st to point out that in a deeply Catholic city…appealing to J.C. for help is NEVER a bad idea. Weird…what does THAT make A.C.?
Considering the fact that while the French Network RDS has 5 or 6 fulltime reporters covering the Alouettes…TSN, CFL.ca and 3DownNation barely mention our charming, but underachieving team…and the Gazette offers one rheumy, laconic curmudgeon on the Alouettes’ beat…I should have realized the benefits of a coach who speaks the “native tongue”.
I ALSO should have been aware of the fact that my translation skills, meagre though they may be, would be put to the test before too long…and for the duration of Chapdelaine’s tenure as Head Coach.
AND I’m going to need a “hot key” for the word Chapdelaine…yikes!
So here’s RDS reporters Bruno Heppell (Alouettes fullback 1997-2004), Matthieu Proulx (Alouettes safety 2005-2010), and Pierre Vercheval (Alouettes, Argos, Eskimos olineman 1988-2001)…
…interviewing Chapdelaine on an RDS show called “L’Antichambre”
Assorted Pleasantries and Goofery….
Host: Mr. Chapdelaine, how did you find out that you were being offered the position of Head Coach of the Montreal Alouettes. How did it happen and who told you?
JC: I received a phone call from Mr. Bob Wetenhall…and with Andrew Wetenhall…a conference call if you will. And we started the discussion that way upon my arrival in B.C. Saturday evening. And it continued over the course of the day on Sunday. I had the chance to talk with Jim Popp and to return the call with Andrew Wetenhall which then included Marc Weightman. We talked to a lot of people. It wasn’t a decision that was, as they say in English, “a snap decision”. It was something that was…”
PV (interrupting): “Thought out.”
JC: “We took some time to be sure we discussed all the things that had to be discussed.”
PV: “Well I…deep down what I’d like to know is…you were Head Coach at Simon Fraser, and obviously the Rouge et Or, you won the Vanier Cup in 1999, and you were an assistant coach on a lot of clubs, known some great coaches…when you accepted the position did you go to your cabinet, pull out your playbook and blow the dust off the cover…
…I imagine a “structured” guy like you, did you have an idea or had you already prepared, “here, this is what I’d like to do…or NOT do” as Head Coach?”
JC: ” There’s one…well many playbooks on my “external drive”
JC: “And well there’s something that’s been developing now for a few years. And certainly, upon my arrival when I first got here, and the discussions we had with Anthony…it was above all important to preserve Anthony’s ‘vision’. But there are also some plays, some things…yes now…having been placed in a position of leadership on the team…some things that I’d like to see. Things that are maybe more ‘me’ as well, yes. But I think what’s more important…you mentioned other coaches I’ve worked with. I worked with Wally Buono for many years. I think the thing that occurred to me initially was to ask myself, ‘what would Wally have done?’ What would Wally Buono do in this current situation. How would he go about things? What would be his decisions? I have a lot of respect for Wally, obviously and I spent a lot of time with him so…it was only normal for me to take that approach.”
MP: “You were saying it wasn’t a “snap” decision. That’s understandable considering the context, finding yourself leading the Alouettes…with an “interim” title…in a difficult situation, not just on the field but we’ve seen the off field strife and all that. What threw the balance so that you said, ‘OK. Yes, I’ll take the job.’ ‘This is a good situation, I’m gonna take this job.’?”
JC: “Listen. The first thing is you try to think…I’ll turn it around and say, ‘If I don’t take it, what will happen?’ ‘If I don’t end up in that position how are things going to change?’ As a coach it’s always easier to imagine yourself as the person who’s going to be making the decisions. The person in charge…a bit. Rather than being in the situation where someone else will be making those decisions. Not that those other decisions will be bad. But that’s it’s perhaps easier to imagine myself ‘directing’ something than some alternate scenario I could envision…”
MP: “And so you already had a “vision” of what you thought should happen? And you were ready to take the job because…”
JC: “Yes. My thinking was this…listen even if things…well there’s no hiding from it, haven’t gone as well as everyone hoped…I think the solutions aren’t as complicated as they might seem. I think we have a good group on this team. Do we have all the solutions at the moment? No. Can we bring in some short term solutions? Yes. The most important thing…and I said this to Mr. Wetenhall, I said, “If I do take the job, I’d prefer not to be seen as an “interim” coach. I’m not going to look at this job in that way because I think there are some decisions that need to be taken, that will serve as the foundation for more long term solutions. And if we don’t take that approach, listen we’re going to keep adding bandaids…bandaid solutions and that’s just not the way I want to do things.”
MP: “That’s encouraging to hear…”
BH: “So your greatest challenge? You just hung up. You’ve just accepted the Head Coaching job with the Montreal Alouettes…with ALL we know right…that’s happened…what do you consider to be your greatest challenge?”
JC: “Convincing my wife I made the right decision.”
OK…after that copy and paste thing you wanted to see me work.
THAT was work.
(sheesh and me with a bum shoulder..)