Marcel Patenaude is leaving the Halifax Mooseheads after 8 1/2 seasons with his head held high.
The veteran general manager spoke diplomatically on Thursday about being fired by the Mooseheads a day earlier, saying he has no regrets, is pleased with what he accomplished, and still respects owner Bobby Smith “a whole lot.”
Patenaude stood by his record of building teams that went to the QMJHL final in 2003 and 2005, and defended the personnel he put in place for last season’s semifinal finish.
“In the last eight years as a franchise, we’ve been able to assemble three good hockey teams with three different coaches,” Patenaude said. “Obviously, we fell short three times.
“It’s all a question of feeling about what you’ve accomplished. I felt that three times we assembled strong teams.”
Smith called Patenaude’s playoff success rate “about what you’d expect” in terms of playoff performance, but said he wanted more than that — he wanted a “superior team.”
Since Smith took ownership in 2003, Patenaude guided the Herd to the President’s Cup final once in 2004-05. Only two teams, the Gatineau Olympiques and Moncton Wildcats, have done better, with two final appearances apiece.
The Mooseheads have also won six playoff rounds during Smith’s five full seasons in charge, trailing only Gatineau (10), Moncton (8) and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (7).
None of those stats include Patenaude’s run to the final in 2003, just months before Smith bought the team.
“Overall, this franchise has had good success in the playoffs compared to other organizations,” Patenaude said.
But Patenaude said he is accountable for not winning a championship during his tenure.
“I understand why Bobby’s upset about that, I understand why some fans are upset about that, but always, my main focus was to win a championship,” Patenaude said.
Patenaude said all his decisions went through Smith, but also said Smith pushed him to be a better GM.
“That’s why I respect him,” Patenaude said.
He said he enjoyed his time in Halifax and indicated that his track record is about more than wins and losses.
“I’ve established (myself) for a lot of players, I think, as a father to them, somebody that was always there for them in the good times and the bad times,” he said.
“I always tried to give the best of my knowledge to the players and the coaches.”
The Mooseheads will get an offensive jolt this weekend with the return of right-winger Jan Stransky.
Stransky, who had five points in two games after coming over in a trade from Gatineau, has served a four-game suspension and will play at home Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Bathurst Titan and Sunday at 4 p.m. against the Moncton Wildcats.
“It’ll definitely be a welcome sight,” said Mooseheads defenceman Ben MacAskill. “We’ve already seen what he can do, and hopefully he can pick up right where he left off.”
The Mooseheads, who are 12-27-2-2, will be without top-scoring defenceman Justin Pender (hip).