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University promises scholarships for new recruits

President of the Ottawa Senators, Cyril Leeder (left), former Senators Coach, Jacques Martin, new head coach Patrick Grandmaître, and director of Sports Services, Marc Schryburt. Photo: Nadia Drissi El-Bouzaidi

The University of Ottawa  has charged former CIS champion, Patrick Grandmaître, with the task of reviving the university’s men’s hockey team following a 15-month suspension. The team was suspended and previous coach Réal Paiement was fired after two members of the team allegedly sexual assaulted a 21-year-old woman in Thunder Bay in March 2014.

Director of Sports Services, Marc Schryburt, announced the new appointment at a press conference on July 29. “Ethics in sports is very important,” he said. “We’re looking to the future, to build our reputation to where it was.”

Grandmaître said he’ll be assembling a team of players with good character.“It means more than just going to games to watch players, but talking to the coaches and seeing what their personalities are,” he said.

Grandmaître, a 36-year-old native of Hull, Québec, graduated from St. Francis Xavier University. There, he received degrees in human kinetics and education. He was captain of the men’s hockey team, leading them to win the CIS national championship in 2004, and to second place finishes in 2001 and 2003.

He was also the captain of two QMJHL teams, the Victoriaville Tigers and the Québec Remparts. Grandmaître is also the recipient of the 2005 Atlantic University Sport award for a men’s hockey player demonstrating outstanding qualities in sport, academics, and in the community.

More recently he has been an assistant coach to the women’s hockey team, and has taught at the Gatineau’s Collège Nouvelles-Frontières since 2010, where he helped launch and run the school’s hockey program.

Schryburt announced that the school is hoping to provide 25 entrance scholarships worth up to $4,500 each to attract potential players. He said these scholarships would apply to transfer students as well as new ones, if they meet the appropriate criteria.

So far, the school said it hasn’t had trouble finding sponsors.  “It’s a privilege to play CIS hockey, people want to come here,” said Grandmaître.

“The committee will secure funding for entrance scholarships  for all incoming hockey players in the 2016-17 season,” said Jean Lépine, chair of the relaunch committee, in a press release.

The university had made several changes in hopes of improving the culture of the U of O’s sports programs, including adopting 11 recommendations proposed by the respect and equality task force, which was launched after the alleged sexual assault.

Grandmaître also said that former members of the men’s hockey team would be allowed to tryout for the team, provided they fit the school’s criteria. Seven former members of the team currently attend the U of O, while other players transferred to other schools, or graduated. 22 of the remaining former members of the team are currently pursuing a $6 million lawsuit against the university and U of O president Allan Rock.

Cyril Leeder, President of the Ottawa Senators, was also at the press conference and will be a part of a committee advising the new team. They were also joined by former Senators coach, Jacques Martin, who is currently a special assistant to the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. He served on the committee tasked with choosing a new head coach, and will be a consultant and advisor to Grandmaître over the next year.

Leeder also said that Grandmaître would make an appearance as a guest coach at the Senators’ rookie camp in September.