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When Charles LeBlanc was an assistant coach with Acadie-Bathurst from 2006 to 2010 he became good friends with then Titan general manager Sylvain Couturier. After LeBlanc left the Titan, to take on the dual role of head coach and general manager with the Maritime Junior A Hockey League’s Campbellton Tigers in 2010, he continued to keep in touch with Couturier and even came back to help Acadie-Bathurst during last spring’s playoffs. So it only made sense that Couturier called his old friend when the Titan found themselves looking for an assistant coach, after last season’s assistant Gianni Cantini announced he had accepted the job as head coach of the Saint-Jerome Panthers of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League last month.
“First of all we were looking for a guy with experience who knows the league,” explained Couturier, who is now Acadie-Bathurst’s director of player development. “Charles was with us prior to going to Campbellton and we believe that he got better with the experience that he got there as head coach and general manager. After he left we stayed very close, we are good friends, so we sat down and talked about it.”
Couturier said LeBlanc wasn’t the only candidate considered for the job, but said he it quickly became clear he was the one who made the most sense.
“We talked to a few people and we looked at what was out there, who was available, but we always came back to the guy we felt was the best guy for the job, and that was Charles LeBlanc,” he said. “It was pretty easy. After Campbellton lost out last year, he helped us out in the playoffs. He’s from the Bathurst area, he’s an experienced guy in this league and he’s been in charge in Junior A. There are a lot of good things about Charles that we like. We’re glad to get him back this year. It was a pretty easy choice.”
LeBlanc lives in the Village of Petit-Rocher, about a 15-minute drive north of Bathurst. After taking a few days to think it over, and discussing the move with his family, he made the decision to return to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“When Sly (Couturier) asked me if I was interested, I wasn’t totally sure about it,” he said. “I asked them to get Eric (Titan head coach Eric Dubois) to call me and we had a good discussion. He asked me why I wanted to come back, going from being a head coach back to the assistant job? I said that I think I gained valuable experience in Campbellton, as a coach and GM, and now I know for my career it is better to come back to the big leagues, to the next level.”
LeBlanc said his goal is to become a head coach at the Major Junior level, but admits he still has plenty to learn before taking the next step.
“My first go around as an assistant in this league was sort of learning by trial and error,” he said. “I learned a lot, don’t get me wrong, but I think I had a lot to learn. By going back to a lower level, as a head coach and GM, I learned how to run the day to day operations of a hockey team on my own. Now I think I’ll be a better assistant coach. I know exactly what I wanted from my assistants in Campbellton so I think I’m more prepared, and more experienced, this time around to be a better assistant coach. I talked it over with my family and I think for my career it was better to come back to this level. I figured it was time.”
LeBlanc said he is also looking forward to the chance to work side by side with Dubois.
“I think we have pretty much the same vision and philosophy, me and Eric,” he said. “We worked well together last year in the playoffs, so that was a big plus. I think the team has a good core of players returning and I like the way Eric had his team structured.”
“I can’t wait for the season to start,” he concluded. “I think we have a lot of top end material to work with. I know there will be a few strong teams in the league but I think we can compete.”
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