Jacques Demers

Jacques Demers (born August 25, 1944) is a former Canadian Senator, former broadcaster and former professional ice hockey head coach. After a lengthy coaching career in the World Hockey Association and in the National Hockey League, Demers became an analyst for Montreal Canadiens games on RDS. On August 27, 2009, he was nominated by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fill the Canadian Senate seat vacated by Yoine Goldstein. Senator Demers represented the Conservative Party in the Senate[2] until December 2015 when he resigned from the Conservative caucus in order to sit as an Independent.[3]. On his 75th birthday on August 25th, 2019 Senator Demers left his position as Senator.

Jacques Demers
Senator for Rigaud, Quebec
In office
August 27, 2009  August 25, 2019
Nominated byStephen Harper
Appointed byMichaëlle Jean
Preceded byYoine Goldstein
Personal details
Born (1944-08-25) August 25, 1944
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyIndependent Senators Group
Other political
Conservative (2009–2015)
Spouse(s)Deborah Anderson[1]


Two of the franchises Demers coached in the WHA were the Chicago Cougars and the Quebec Nordiques. Additionally, he was the exceedingly popular coach of the Indianapolis Racers, which won the Eastern Division championship under his guidance. Demers had the opportunity to coach Wayne Gretzky in the 1979 WHA All-Star Series. The format of the series was a three-game set that pitted the WHA All-Stars against HC Moscow Dynamo. Demers asked Gordie Howe if it was okay to put him on a line with Wayne Gretzky and his son Mark Howe.[4] In Game One, the line scored seven points as the WHA All-Stars won by a score of 4–2.[4] In Game Two, Gretzky and Mark Howe each scored a goal and Gordie Howe picked up an assist as the WHA won 4–2.[4] The line did not score in the final game, but the WHA won by a score of 4–3.


While in the NHL, he coached the Quebec Nordiques, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. He won two consecutive Jack Adams Awards as NHL Coach of the Year, with Detroit in both 1987 and 1988. He is the only person to win the award in consecutive years. He was also responsible for naming longtime Red Wing Steve Yzerman as team captain. In 1993, he led Montreal to its most recent Stanley Cup. Only two years later, however, the Canadiens missed the playoffs altogether for the first time since 1970. After an 0-5 start to the 1995-96 season, Demers was fired.

While in Tampa Bay, he was responsible for guiding Vincent Lecavalier through his first two years in the NHL. He displayed a fatherly attitude toward the young star, often pulling him aside during practice to lecture him in their native French. During the 1998-99 season, he also served as the Lightning's general manager.

In 2007, he was named the 100th most influential personality in hockey by The Hockey News.

Coaching record


TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
QUE1979–80 80254411615th in AdamsMissed playoffs
STL1983–84 8032417712nd in NorrisLost in second round
STL1984–85 80373112861st in NorrisLost in first round
STL1985–86 8037349833rd in NorrisLost in third round
DET1986–87 80343610782nd in NorrisLost in third round
DET1987–88 80412811931st in NorrisLost in third round
DET1988–89 80343412801st in NorrisLost in first round
DET1989–90 80283814705th in NorrisMissed playoffs
MTL1992–93 84483061023rd in AdamsWon Stanley Cup
MTL1993–94 84412914963rd in NortheastLost in first round
MTL1994–95 4818237436th in NortheastMissed playoffs
MTL1995–96 5050(0)3rd in Northeast(fired)
TB1997–98 6315408(44)7th in AtlanticMissed playoffs
TB1998–99 8219549474th in SoutheastMissed playoffs
Total1006409467130954-8 playoff appearances, 1 Stanley Cup


TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
IND1975–76 8035396761st in EastLost in second round
IND1976–77 8136378803rd in EastLost in second round
CIN1977–78 7533393(69)7th in WHA(fired)
QUE1978–79 8041345872nd in WHALost in second round


TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
FRE1981–82 8020555455th in NorthMissed playoffs
FRE1982–83 8045278981st in NorthLost in second round

Literacy struggles

On November 2, 2005, Demers released a biography, written by Mario Leclerc, entitled En toutes lettres (English translation: All Spelled Out), in which he revealed that he is functionally illiterate. According to Demers, he never really learned to read or write because of his abusive childhood in Montreal. He covered for himself by asking secretaries and public relations people to read letters for him, claiming he could not read English well enough to understand them (though he speaks English and French equally well). When he served as general manager of the Lightning, he brought in Cliff Fletcher and Jay Feaster as his assistants; as it turned out, they did most of the work a general manager would normally do because Demers knew he could not do it himself.[5]

On August 28, 2009, CBC Radio One reported that Demers was chosen to fill the Senate seat of Yoine Goldstein by Prime Minister Harper. He is fluently bilingual. According to the CBC report, he has "raised awareness about literacy issues" by "going public with his own struggles." A series of Montreal residents were interviewed regarding his Senate appointment and they were generally positive about the move. Many noted, however, that it was "important that he learn to read."[6]


On July 5, 2010, Demers was reported to be in stable condition after undergoing two emergency surgeries.[7]

Demers was hospitalized after experiencing a stroke in April 2016. He remained in stable condition in a Montreal hospital.[8]

In October 2016, Demers was hospitalized for a serious infection.[9]



Preceded by
Maurice Filion
Head coach of the Quebec Nordiques
Succeeded by
Maurice Filion
Preceded by
Barclay Plager
Head coach of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Jacques Martin
Preceded by
Brad Park
Head coach of the Detroit Red Wings
Succeeded by
Bryan Murray
Preceded by
Pat Burns
Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
Succeeded by
Mario Tremblay
Preceded by
Rick Paterson
Head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Succeeded by
Steve Ludzik
Preceded by
Phil Esposito
General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Succeeded by
Rick Dudley
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