2020 21 njt xavier simoneau assembly

Doing it for Drummondville

Xavier Simoneau was among the best players on the ice in the QMJHL last season, but it was in his community where the CHL Humanitarian of the Year made his biggest impact

Jason La Rose
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December 3, 2020
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What Xavier Simoneau did on the ice for the Drummondville Voltigeurs last season was impressive. In his first year as captain, he posted 89 points in 61 games, finishing fifth in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) scoring, earning a nomination as league MVP and helping a young Voltigeurs team to the sixth-best record in the QMJHL.

Off the ice, the 19-year-old might have been even better. He launched his ‘Les amis à Simy’ (Friends of Simy) program, gave his time to Autisme Centre-du-Québec and the Association de hockey mineur de Drummondville, made school and hospital visits, and was honorary president of the Voltigeurs’ blood drive.

All of which begs the question … when does Simoneau find time to sleep?

“I don't have kids. I don't have a wife. I have nothing else to do [when I’m not at the rink],” Simoneau says. “So, why not? I'm not a big fan of Xbox, so I'm not going to sit in front of my TV all day in my free time. I want to share that time with my community.”

That mindset, and his leadership away from the rink, is why Simoneau was named humanitarian of the year by both the QMJHL and Canadian Hockey League (CHL).

“He went about that all by himself,” says Steve Hartley, head coach of the Voltigeurs. “It wasn't something that our organization launched. He wanted to make a difference, and he wanted to give back to the community that's given so much to him since he's been here in Drummondville. It's just a testament to the type of young man that he is.”

The commitment to community comes from his childhood, when he was on the other side of the interactions.

A product of small-town Saint-André-Avellin, Que., Simoneau would make the hour-long trek southwest to Gatineau with his parents to watch the Olympiques. With future NHLers like Claude Giroux and Paul Byron leading the way, young Xavier quickly fell in love with the Major Junior game.

“It was always a dream to get an autograph from a ‘Q’ guy, to skate with those guys, to just talk with a ‘Q’ guy,” he says. “Because for me, those guys were my idols. It was my dream to play there. So being there now, it's actually pretty neat to be the idol of the young kids.”

The centrepiece of Simoneau’s community engagement efforts is Les amis à Simy, which grew from his role as spokesperson for the local autism organization. According to the Voltigeurs’ website:

Xavier Simoneau and the Voltigeurs have set up Les amis à Simy to reward children who work hard every day at school and at home. Whether it is children who have accomplished good deeds, to recognize an initiative worthy of mention or to highlight the efforts of children who have learning difficulties, who are fighting disease or quite simply children who are experiencing difficulties, they are the sought-after candidates.

During the 2019-20 season, Simoneau invited a handful of young fans to each home game and met with them afterwards.

“It was my third year [in Drummondville], and I wanted to give more. I wanted to get closer with the fans. Not just kids with autism, not just kids with disabilities, it can just be kids that are doing well at school. I go up there [after the game] and just talk with the people to make sure they’ve had a fun night.”

With Simoneau on the ice last season, there were plenty of fun nights in Drummondville. The Voltigeurs won 19 of their 31 home games, and their captain recorded points in 22 of the 30 home-ice contests he dressed for.

That kind of production – along with 10 points in four games to open the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season – was enough to earn him an invite to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Selection Camp.

But for whatever reason, it wasn’t enough to get his name called at the NHL Draft. Simoneau has now gone through a pair of drafts without being selected

“I was looking at the draft pretty close, but when I didn't see my name, I was really pissed off,” he says. “But the next day I woke up, and I go to the rink with the same mindset, like I can prove those [NHL teams] wrong.”

“Yes, he was disappointed, but he didn't sit in the corner and pout,” Hartley adds. “He came back to the rink the next day, and he went about his business. And I think it showed that he was the best player on the ice.”

In his first two games after the draft, both wins over the Val-d’Or Foreurs, Simoneau was in on five of the six Drummondville goals – he scored a goal and set up the overtime winner in a 2-1 victory on Oct. 9, and added two goals and an assist in a 4-1 win the next night.

That kind of impact is just one part of what Simoneau will be remembered for when his time in Drummondville comes to an end. And when he does depart his junior hockey home once and for all, he wants to make sure his legacy involves more than just statistics.

“When he went on the ice each year for the team, he gave all he can for the best of the team, but he also cared for the community,” he says of how he wants fans to think of him.

“I just want them to say, ‘Yes, he is a good player, but he was always a great person, too.’”

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
514-895-9706
[email protected]

 

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

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