Getting to Know Serge Lajoie

Some things you should know about the new head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, Serge Lajoie:
•His French Canadian connection is not by name only. Lajoie (pronounced La-zwah`) is perfectly fluent in French, both writing and speaking, and speaks French to his children Isabelle and Marc. In the presence of friends, the family speaks English.
• Wife Kelly is an educator in Edmonton and will remain there to create some normalcy for their children before making the move to Kamloops after the first year of Serge’s employment by the Blazers.
• Assistant coach Dan Kordic and his family are doing the same thing. He and his wife have the same dynamic as the coach, with a 17 year old daughter and, a 15 year old son.
• Lajoie, who spent last week in Kamloops getting acclimatized to surroundings and the team, says the cloud of being reassigned by Bob Brown and Ken Hitchcock as a player in the fall of 1986 turned into a blessing of sorts as he met the love of his life, Kelly, while he was playing for the St. Albert Saints in the Alberta Junior League and they have been together since becoming teenage sweethearts.
• Both of their children are addressed by the French pronunciation of their names. Isabelle has been recruited to play hockey for the University of Alberta Pandas, while Marc is considered a top prospect of the Tri-City Americans who selected him 14th overall in the WHL bantam draft this past spring. Serge says if there ever came a day when his son could play for him in Kamloops, he would welcome it in a heartbeat because he knows what he would be getting.
• Lajoie had a chance to join the Lethbridge Hurricanes when he left the Blazers in the mid 80’s. The team contacted him but he took the advice of WHL scout Glen Dirk who worked for Regina at the time, out of Kamloops, and stayed with university hockey when he was approached at the age of 19. Dirk said the rugged style they wanted him to play was not his nature and the Golden Bears were his best bet. When informed of his decision, Lethbridge coach Blaine Galbraith told him it was a shame he didn’t want to be a player, which motivated Lajoie. He went on to four Canadian university title seasons with Alberta, one as a point a game defenceman, two as an assistant coach, and the most recent as the head coach of the team this past spring.
• He played one season for the legendary Clare Drake with Alberta and three under Bill Moores who had a major impact with him in the game in the sense of personal development and coaching. He was a teacher in the true sense of the word who showed him the intensity and commitment needed from every single member of the team for the greater cause. Building relationships and trusting the process are keys to winning as they influence the understanding of the game, along with identity and culture. Motivating by fear doesn’t come into play.
• Challenges, motivation, and embracing roles will be huge for players along with the speed and support needed in all three zones. The ability to think the game is going to be important.
• Lajoie knows it will be a challenge, having dealt with older university players, but he’s in tune with younger players as well having coached teenagers like his son in his rise up the coaching ladder. He looks forward to seeing their passion, knowledge and hard work paying dividends and working on the mindset needed to be successful.
• Lajoie and Michael Dyck of the Vancouver Giants are guest coaches under head coach Andre Tourigny of the Ottawa 67’s. And assistants Mitch Love of the Saskatoon Blades and Ryan Oulahen of Flint of the OHL in the next week, leading up to the Gretzky-Hlinka Cup in Edmonton and Red Deer, August 6 – 11. The contingent of WHL players trying to make Team Canada stands at 14 among the 44 invited to the selection camp. Connor Zary of the Blazers is one of 26 forwards in the mix, along with 14 defencemen and 4 goaltenders.
• Lajoie will join the Blazers following the tournament to prepare for the WHL season.
• The Blazers have their annual reunion golf tournament scheduled for Rivershore Thursday, August 9th at 10am