Speaker


Jacques Demers

Former NHL Coach | Hockey Commentator | Literacy Advocate

Throughout his storied career, Jacques Demers built a name as one of the most successful coaches in the National Hockey League. After hundreds of on-ice victories across Canada and the United States, Demers went on to a thriving career as a television sports commentator. Yet during all those years behind the bench and in front of the camera, he managed to hide a remarkable fact―he could neither read nor write. Sharing his incredible story, Demers inspires others to have the courage to confront, and conquer, their greatest fears and sheds light on the thousands of people who, like him, unjustly suffer through illiteracy.

Demers was the coach for the Quebec Nordiques, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues, and Montreal Canadiens for more than twenty years. During his career, his teams advanced to the conference finals on numerous occasions. He coached the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup win in 1993, and he twice received the Jack Adams.

Demers released his biography in 2005 entitled, En toutes lettres (All Spelled Out), written by sports writer Mario LeClerc. A frequent commentator on CBC and TSN, Demers is a regular analyst and columnist for RDS in Quebec.

In 2007, Demers was named the 100th most influential personality in hockey by The Hockey News, and he was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.

Entraîneur dans l’âme, Jacques Demers a joint les rangs de RDS, à titre de co-animateur au hockey Molson Export.

Fort de son expérience de plus de 16 ans dans la Ligue nationale de hockey, le sympathique entraîneur est maintenant devant la caméra. En compagnie d’Alain Crête, il agit comme hôte des matches de hockey à RDS. Avec la verve qu’on lui connaît, il partage avec les téléspectateurs, à chaque entracte, ses commentaires sur l’actualité de la semaine, les rencontres en cours et bien sûr, l’action du moment chez le Canadien ou les Sénateurs.

Jacques Demers n’a plus à être présenté. Il est probablement le Québécois ayant atteint le plus haut sommet en tant qu’entraîneur d’une formation professionnelle. Jacques débute sa prestigieuse carrière en 1972 comme directeur du personnel des joueurs et assistant-entraîneur des Cougars de Chicago dans l’Association mondiale de hockey. Sept ans s’écoulent avant qu’il devienne le premier entraîneur-chef des Nordiques de Québec en 1979. En 1983, il devient entraîneur-chef des Blues de St. Louis pour finalement passer aux Red Wings de Detroit trois ans plus tard.

En 1990, il quitte momentanément l’arrière du banc pour être derrière le micro en tant qu’analyste des matchs des Nordiques en compagnie d’Alain Crête. La pause d’analyste est de courte durée, puisqu’il dirige, en 1992, le destin du Canadien de Montréal jusqu’à la conquête de la coupe Stanley, le 9 juin 1993. Il reste six ans avec le Canadien, dont quatre à la barre de la formation montréalaise et deux comme recruteur professionnel. Il accepte ensuite le poste de directeur général et entraîneur-chef du Lightning de Tampa Bay.

Le bilan de carrière de Jacques Demers est très impressionnant. Il a été trois fois en nomination comme entraîneur de l’année (saison 1985-1986, 1986-1987 et 1987-1988) de la LNH, dont deux fois lorsqu’il était à la barre des Red Wings de Detroit. Il porte fièrement à son index droit la bague de la conquête de la coupe Stanley de 1993. Il cumule trois participations à des finales de conférences. Il fait partie du club sélect des cinq entraîneurs (Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Jack Adams et Dick Irvin) qui ont dirigé plus de 1000 matches dans la Ligue nationale de hockey.

En novembre 2005, il a publié un émouvant ouvrage sur sa vie, intitulé “En toutes lettres“.  Si la plupart des gens connaissent Jacques Demers comme l’ancien entraîneur du club de hockey Canadien, seuls quelques intimes partageaient son plus grand secret : il ne sait ni lire ni écrire et il a vécu toute sa vie en camouflant soigneusement ce handicap majeur. Laissez-vous émouvoir en lisant ce livre par un être d’une grande humanité !

Depuis quelques années, il est l’analyste des matchs du Canadien sur les ondes de RDS et collabore avec le réseau radiophonique Corus. En plus, le Premier Ministre du Canada, Stephen Harper, le nomme sénateur en août 2009.


Leadership

Teamwork

Overcoming Adversity

Recognizing Talent

Managing Assets - Knowing & Using the Players You Have

Jacques Demers en Toutes Lettres

Throughout a storied career, Jacques Demers built a name as one of the most successful coaches in the National Hockey League. Savvy and charismatic, he is still respected in his native Montreal as the last coach to bring the Stanley Cup home to his appreciative city. After hundreds of on-ice victories across Canada and the United States, Mr. Demers went on to a thriving career as a television sports commentator. Yet during all those years behind the bench and in front of the camera, he managed to hide a remarkable fact. He could neither read nor write.

In an authorized biography published in 2005, the 61-year-old Mr. Demers reveals that he covered up his illiteracy with elaborate ploys, fearful that the truth could cost him his job with professional hockey. Mr. Demers, said he hoped that speaking out would help others develop the confidence to learn to read and write, as he has tried to do. Millions of Canadian adults have varying levels of illiteracy, and Mr. Demers’s story of survival and determination is emblematic of the struggles they face every day.

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