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Jacques Demers – En toutes Lettres

 

 

 

Jacques Demers spent 15 years in the NHL as a head coach and general manager and had great difficulties in knowing how to read or write.
The colourful former bench boss of five different NHL teams has admitted that he is illiterate. The revelation comes in a biography in French called Jacques Demers En Toutes Lettres, which could be translated as ‘Jacques Demers From A To Z’.
Demers led the Montreal Canadiens to Stanley Cup title in 1993. He also coached the Quebec Nordiques, the St. Louis Blues, the Detroit Red Wings, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
He revealed that the cause of his illiteracy was an impoverished childhood, where his father beat and psychologically abused him and his mother. Now he hopes children are treated with care and compassion.
"All I wanted from my father was to treat me with love," Demers said. "Not to beat me up when I did something wrong. Not to beat up my mom. It really hurt me because he took away my childhood.
"The other thing I wanted to say was that if I could not write or read, it was because I had so much of a problem with anxiety because of the things going on in the family. I couldn’t go to sleep at night. I’d go to school and I couldn’t learn anything.
"So the message is, leave the kids alone. Don’t beat them up. They’re defenceless. Don’t beat up their mom in front of the kids. He was an alcoholic, but he also wasn’t a very good person to do that."
The book contains 26 chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet. It was written by Journal de Montreal desk editor and former Canadiens beat writer Mario Leclerc.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Demers’ problem is that he was able to hide it so well. Only a few people knew about it. In the book, Demers describes how he finessed his way through most of his dealings by getting secretaries and media relations people to pen his correspondence for him.
Even his wife Debbie only learned of his well-held secret after pestering him for days over unwritten cheques. Finally, the coach broke down and told her the secret.
In his hockey dealings, Demers used others’ abilities to mask his own.
"I could read a little bit but I can’t write very well. I took to protecting myself. You put a wall around yourself. And when I was given the possibility of talking, I could speak well and I think that really saved me."
Asked why he went public with the news, Demers said, "because I’m free now. I’m liberated.
"I have no problem saying what I wanted to say. That’s what I needed. I’ve been carrying this all my life. I succeeded, and I’m telling people ‘you’re capable of doing something in your life even if you have some big handicaps."’
 
with files from Canadian Press

 

 

Jacques Demers a levé le voile sur un secret lourd à porter. Dans une biographie autorisée de Mario Leclerc, l’ancien entraîneur du Canadien de Montréal révèle qu’il est analphabète.
 
Les 600 pages du livre En toutes lettres, divisées en 26 chapitres comme les lettres de l’alphabet, racontent la vie de l’homme de hockey de 61 ans.
 
Reconverti en « joueurnaliste », il est aujourd’hui une figure de proue du journalisme sportif québécois (RDS, Journal de Montréal, CKAC).Fruits de plusieurs années de recherches et d’entrevues, cette biographie nous fait découvrir le destin extraordinaire d’un homme qui sait mieux que personne la définition du mot « adversité » : enfance dans un milieu pauvre, père violent et alcoolique, décès précoces de ses parents, etc.
Si certains connaissent l’histoire de sa lente ascension d’un poste de livreur de Coca-Cola à l’élite de la LNH, seule une poignée d’intimes partageaient en revanche son plus grand secret : un illettrisme presque total.
Ce handicap, que Demers avait à ce jour soigneusement caché, ne l’a pourtant pas empêché de mener une carrière de rêve et de devenir une figure marquante de la vie sociale de Saint-Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay et, bien sûr, Montréal.
 
Ce livre nous révèle le portrait d’un être attachant, en laissant aussi une juste place à l’homme de hockey et son prestigieux parcours. Vies privée et publique se conjuguent pour nous offrir toutes les facettes d’une personnalité profondément humaine, chaleureuse, passionnée, altruiste, énergique et optimiste.Un témoignage souvent bouleversant, toujours touchant, conçu pour toucher indifféremment hommes et femmes. Une « success-story » classique, rehaussée d’une grande humanité. Une personnalité médiatique hors pair qui inspire une vive sympathie.

http://www.amazon.ca/Jacques-Demers-En-toutes-lettres/dp/2760409767

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A unique culture A worldwide Sports top level experience combined with a corporate experience. With the profound conviction in « accompanying an athlete, is helping him to manage himself alone »
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