Matteau reportedly split on the team, taking a fan bus home from a game after he was benched for the third period The team cut him and said he left without permission and there were reports of an altercation between Matteau and the team's brass. Matteau's agent, Pat Brisson, said he left with permission after he was cut because Matteau didn't want to wait for a plane the next day.
Now, Matteau's dad, former NHLer Stefane Matteau, says he doesn't think the junior club treated his son the right way. The elder Matteau is also an assistant coach on the Armada, which makes all of this even more sticky.
“They released him on emotion and emotion only,” Stephane Matteau said. “In the semifinals, he got speared and he retaliated – it’s a hockey play – and they decided to sit him out the whole third period of a 1-1 game. Emotionally, he let the coach know it was unfair the way he was treated for that moment and they went at it verbally and they kicked him off (the team) five minutes after the game.”This all smells fishy -- not a fish market at 1 p.m. on a hot sunny day fishy, but when someone hasn't had their car cleaned in a while and you sit in it and after a couple minutes, you think to yourself, "Something's weird in here." You can't quite put your finger on it, but there's something "off." This whole thing has turned into a giant he said-he said with both sides trying to justify immaturity. Stefan Matteau's decision to get into a verbal disagreement with his coach after being benched probably wasn't smart. Neither was riding the bus home -- regardless of whether he'd already been cut. Of course, cutting a player five minutes (according to StefanE) after a game looks like the coach and GM were just waiting for the right opportunity. You don't just suddenly cut a player with first-round talent from a junior club that quickly even if he plays undisciplined at times or maybe even if he's upset about being benched. Whether they were trying to use him as an example is another issue entirely, but it's pretty obvious they didn't want Matteau on the team anymore and just needed a reason to cut him without looking bad.
Because of his obvious conflict of interest, Stephane, was not involved in the decision to release Stefan. He felt that Bouchard wanted to make an example of Stefan because he had spent the first two months of the NHL season with the Devils, playing in 17 games, before they returned him to Blainville-Boisbriand on March 17.
“They wanted to set him as an example for the rest of the group,” he said. “When you’re in the spotlight - there’s a lot of guys that would take more penalties than he did – but they were waiting for the next mistake. Emotion took part on both sides. … I’ve never seen an organization releasing a guy five minutes after a game. It’s very, very, very disappointing. I’m very disappointed and I didn’t go back to work the next day. I did not go to work the next day. I did not interfere, but I did not agree with what happened.”
The bottom line is this should (hopefully) be a lesson for both parties. Stefan Matteau needs to grow up -- on the ice and off. Yeah, he spent two months with an NHL club and probably has a future as a third-line winger in this league, but getting kicked off your junior club for yelling at the coach and GM isn't going to do you any favors with NHL execs and coaches. He's far from the only professional athlete with an attitude problem at a young age. The NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB and minor leagues are filled with them. But there's a difference between being a dick at 18 and 19 and still being one as a pro.
As for the undisciplined play? Well, that'll get him booted from the league quicker than an attitude. Even guys like Matt Cooke, Steve Downie and Raffi Torres had to shape up before they were shipped out.