HOCKEY. After a first season with the Elephants of Chambéry, in the division 1 championship in France, the Drummondville resident Pierre Bergeron finds himself in an ideal environment, so much so that he has extended his adventure for three years.
Since joining the ranks of the Elephants, Pierre Bergeron says he has flourished in his coaching duties. The way his organization views hockey and player development aligns with his own vision.
“I really like what’s going on and what I’m doing. I feel good in Grenoble; these are the Alps, there is no winter. It’s a great experience to live. I really agree with their way of seeing hockey. I had no worries about signing with them long term. I like working with the people in place”, he testified.
Hired last June by the formation of Savoie, Pierre Bergeron explains that this first year has been strewn with ups and downs. “The roster changes often; we may have lacked a few players to complete the four teams in the structure. There were players who moved from one team to another to promote their development by playing more games,” he explained.
Arrived last summer in Chambéry for a first experience in Europe, Pierre Bergeron extends for a new season on the bench of the Elephants! pic.twitter.com/PFvYxlpTxu
— Chambery Elephants 🐘 (@ChamberyHockey) April 27, 2022
You should know that Elephants are part of a development structure that is rare in France. Indeed, this division 1 team serves as a training club for the Brûleurs de Loups de Grenoble, who play in the Magnus League. With the division 2 team, the Grizzlys of Vaujany, and the under-20 team of the Brûleurs de Loups training center, the structure is one of the most developed in the country. The Wolf Burners also have teams of under-17 and under-15 players. This is a pilot project that was in its third year, but in its first full season without interruption caused by the pandemic.
“The objective of the academy is to have players play at different levels according to their talent, their level of confidence and their performance to give them more experience. It requires constant adjustment, but the way of doing it is excellent. When I arrived, I was greatly impressed by the seriousness and the professional environment of the organization in Grenoble,” said Bergeron, who saw 46 players pass through his roster in 2021-2022.
The project is led, in particular, by the general manager of Les Brûleurs de Loups, Quebecer Jean-François Dufour, originally from Bedford in the Eastern Townships. The structure put in place by Grenoble innovates with a concept little exploited in France and, already, the results are positive.
“When you look at the young French players developed in recent years, the Brûleurs de Loups are the ones who count the most. Despite the many changes between each team, the program remains player-friendly. It gives them more time to adapt between the different levels,” said Bergeron.
The Drummondville coach reports that the players developed by the structure are in high demand during transfer periods.
Coming from North American hockey, Pierre Bergeron admits that adapting to French hockey required several adjustments. The styles of play differ in several points, but the Quebecer thinks he has found a happy medium.
In view of the next season, the management of the Elephants will be able to use the information gathered to set up a team in its image and make the necessary adjustments. One of the objectives is to create more depth in the alignments of the structure to avoid shortages of personnel when all the teams are in action at the same time. Another is to create more internal competition in order to stimulate young players to surpass themselves.
“Our players don’t always have as much competition as we would hope; which can sometimes delay their development. For example, last season we created a chart that illustrated the consequences if a player caused too many turnovers. It is a question of empowering them in their game. The objective is to promote their development by bringing the notion of merit, “explained the 35-year-old Drummondvillois.
While the team had to maintain its place in Division 1 last season, the Elephants’ objective will be to participate in the playoffs in 2022-2023.
Between now and the next campaign, Pierre Bergeron will spend his summer in the region where he will once again lead the Line-Up Academy with Alexandre Labonté. This will be the tenth year for this summer program for the regional hockey elite. He will be back in France at the end of August.