Jacques Chapdelaine is the 22nd Head Coach of the Montréal Alouettes, he is also the first francophone to be named Head Coach of the Alouettes so far in the team’s 62 years of existence. Chapdelaine coached the team’s last six games of the 2016 season, registering a 4-2 record having made his début as Alouettes Head Coach on October 2nd 2016 at home to the Toronto Argonauts. A game which the Als won 38-11 in front of their first sell out crowd since 2010.
All of which may leave one wondering, how can this article be titled ‘so it starts’. A reasonable question to which the reply is Chapeldaine did start as head coach in 2016, but only as an interim coach. 2017 is the beginning, if you will, of what Als fans will be hoping to look on fondly as the successful Jacques Chapdelaine era.
Chapeldaine is steeped in the CFL having been a first round pick – fifth overall – for the BC Lions in the 1983 CFL Draft. During his playing career, he suited up for the Lions (1983-84), the Montréal Concordes (1985), the Alouettes (1986), the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1987-89) and the Calgary Stampeders (1989). Over the course of his career, he played in 94 games, making 166 catches for just over 2,000 yards and six touchdowns.
Beyond his time as a player his CFL coaching experience covers 16 seasons on the sidelines as an assistant coach for the Toronto Argonauts, the Calgary Stampeders, the BC Lions, the Edmonton Eskimos and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Chapdelaine was hired by the Alouettes on February 8, 2016 as their receivers coach and special advisor to the offense. With the team listing to a 3-9 record, head coach Jim Popp stood aside and promoted Chapdelaine to head coach on September 19, 2016 during the team’s bye week.
Despite front office changes and a new general manager, on December 14, 2016, the Alouettes announced that Chapdelaine would remain as their head coach for 2017. One expects a healthy rivalry with the Argonauts where Popp is now the GM and the last truly successful Als coach Marc Trestman are based to develop for Chapeldaine and his team.
A promising end to the 2016 season with three consecutive victories and the multiple moves made by GM Kavis Reed during the off-season may have some Alouettes fans excited. One thing is for sure, Chapeldaine intends for his team to be intense, “We have a responsibility to our supporters to regain the hair of the beast, which has been lost over the years,” Chapdelaine told rds.ca in an interview recently, “I am very excited. We have a good core of players coming back with us and a very tough defense. ”