NHL prospect banned after allegedly hitting fan with stick at Olympique’s game

Halifax Mooseheads forward Zachary L'Heureux was drafted by the NHL's Nashville Predators in 2021.  (David Chan/Halifax Mooseheads - photo credit)

Halifax Mooseheads forward Zachary L’Heureux was drafted by the NHL’s Nashville Predators in 2021. (David Chan/Halifax Mooseheads – photo credit)

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) has suspended a Halifax Mooseheads player — and an NHL first-round draft pick — indefinitely after he allegedly hit a teenage fan with his after a game last week in Gatineau, Que battered.

Last Wednesday, the Gatineau Olympiques defeated visiting Mooseheads in a shootout.

Olympiques fan Holden Coulter, 16, from Blackburn Hamlet, said he was among a group of people who stood, cheered and booed after the win.

Coulter said he “Mooseheads suck!” before left winger Zachary L’Heureux, 19, stretched out his stick and “started bumping into us” as he came off the ice.

“I had to back down or he probably would have gotten better at me,” Coulter said.

8 previous suspensions

While Coulter said he was not injured, he and his mother Stephanie told CBC they would speak up to put the incident, the latest in a string of suspensions for L’Heureux, on record.

“I’m not trying to tear down the organization,” Holden Coulter said of the Mooseheads, adding that given his record of previous violations, L’Heureux should be forced to sit out at least eight QMJHL games.

According to league records, L’Heureux has been suspended nine times in three seasons (including last week’s incident) for everything from high sticking to fighting on the ice. He was benched for a total of 27 games.

“The important thing is that he gets on track and stops being such a hothead on the ice and now with … fans,” Coulter said.

“He has a bright future … It’s just important that he puts his head in the game.”

Submitted by Stephanie Coulter

Submitted by Stephanie Coulter

No schedule for final punishment

CBC contacted L’Heureux on Facebook, as well as both the NHL’s Mooseheads and Nashville Predators, who signed L’Heureux to a three-year, entry-level contract in July 2021.

L’Heureux and the Predators did not immediately respond, while a spokesman for the Mooseheads said via email the team would not comment “out of respect for the process while the QMJHL is determining a length of suspension.”

The QMJHL’s announcement on Friday said L’Heureux’s suspension was indefinite, adding that a disciplinary panel would review the evidence over the weekend and announce their decision “at a later date”.

“I don’t have a clear timetable from them yet,” league spokesman Maxime Blouin said via email on Sunday.

The league initially told Radio-Canada it would not discipline L’Heureux, but reversed course after video footage of the incident surfaced.

“Never had anything physical”

The Coulters said they have been Olympiques season ticket holders for over a decade, and Holden’s sister Olympia is even named after the team.

“We’re pretty high on the ‘crazy fans’ scale,” Stephanie Coulter said, and her son added that since he was three, hockey has been a comforting culture “to indulge in.”

But the family had never experienced anything like last Wednesday, she said.

“Sometimes words are exchanged,” she said. “But we’ve never had anything physical.”


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