LEWISTON – Mario Lemieux. Guy Lafleur. Sidney Crosby. Wayne Gretzky.

And Eric Castonguay. And Simon Courcelles.

The common thread?

Every one of those hockey players will forever have his name emblazoned on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s President’s Cup.

“It’s unbelievable,” Castonguay said. “Granby, when they won the cup in ’97 I think (it was 1996), I was there. I wanted to do that when I was there. To have done that, that’s pretty special.”

“The Cup has so much history,” Courcelles said. “You look at the names on the Cup, it’s incredible.”

In the hours after the team’s 2-1 Game 4 win over Val-d’Or on Wednesday, and again on the bus ride home Thursday, the players scanned the trophy for names of players they recognized, players they idolized growing up, and players who had long since retired before they were even born.

Now, 24 Lewiston Maineiacs hockey players, three coaches and as many of the front office staffers as the team can fit will add their names to the pantheon of hockey immortality.

Gretzky is on the Cup as a team’s president.

Lemieux, the one player ever mentioned in the same breath as Gretzky when discussing overall talent and impact on the game, had his name etched into the metallic finish in 1984. Ironically, he beat Gretzky to the punch. The Great One’s name appears with the 1987-88 Hull Olympiques.

Guy Lafleur, one of the greatest players in the NHL in the 1970s and early 1980s and winner of five Stanley Cups, earned his place in 1970 and again in 1971 with the Quebec Remparts.

Crosby’s title came just two years ago, and part of his playoff performance last season included a two-game stop at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Rimouski’s four-game sweep of the Maineiacs.

As for favorites, Courcelles and Castonguay had a hard time picking a favorite.

“I don’t know, that’s a good question,” Courcelles said. “Wayne Gretzky, Guy Lafleur, two of them that did something for me. I got a little shiver when I read them.”

The trophy has had a profound impact on the coaching staff, too.

“There’s no age to realize your dream,” Maineiacs’ head coach Clem Jodoin said. “The kids, they got to realize it at 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. For me, it’s 55. I still have a big passion for the game. For me, my journey had to be different, but it finished in the same place.”

Jodoin said he hadn’t yet had time to scan the names, but he was sure there were a few he’d coached before at different levels, including Lemieux.

Still, this was his first President’s Cup title.

“Just the names, it’s nice to look at them all,” Jodoin said. “We join the circle of the winners, and this is important as an organization. As an organization, we won. This organization brought up a new trend in the league, and we opened a lot of eyes.”


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