Opinion: The curious case of Patrick Walsh
Author’s Note: This article originally appears on Titan Nation and is re-printed with permission by The Q News.
Late Wednesday evening while I was preparing my notes in order to write-up the preview article for tonight’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan game against the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, I noticed something was different on both the websites of the Titan and the Québec Major Junior Hockey League.
Patrick Walsh’s name was missing.
Heading into this past Sunday’s game, it appeared on the outside all was well despite dropping a 2-0 decision to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. However at 12:55 p.m. that afternoon, a user on one of the many QMJHL message boards posted in reference to Walsh.
“I hear that he is no longer with the team. Apparently had a falling out with the coach. Only a rumor at this point,” posted a user on the message board.
Normally, message board talk would be dismissed as what was said in the post: rumors. I left it as it was for the moment, but thought I would inquire informally with a member of the Titan’s ownership group who tends to wander around the stands before warm-ups begin. His response to me was that Walsh was returning home to see a specialist about the shoulder that had kept him out of action for the first two months of the season.
I have always been someone to question the information I’m given, regardless its source. Most of the time I internalize the questioning, but I thought I’d seek out the opinion of someone I know and trust more than anybody else when it comes to reporting. When I messaged this person on the topic, I received a reply with just four words: “Tip of the iceberg.” I knew at that moment something had to be up.
There were conflicting reports everywhere about what the truth of the matter was. Did Walsh leave the team after a falling out with then-head coach Danny Dupont? Or was he indeed returning home to see a specialist on his shoulder? Perhaps both?
One thing about my blog Titan Nation, is it’s run independently from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan hockey club and the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. This means I’m basically on my own when it comes to this sort of stuff. From time-to-time I’m assisted in little ways by friends I’ve made through various means – whether it be from working behind the scenes on a live, weekly hockey magazine show or through social media when I was just doing live tweets on my personal Twitter account. I do not have a media pass, which means I don’t have the same access to information those who do would have. I’ve been fortunate that through Titan Nation and The Q News, I’ve been able to gain some measure of contact with a few players, coaches and even media.
Locally, the town of Bathurst has a daily French-language news paper that services the Bathurst and Acadian Peninsula regions along with a weekly English-language news paper whose primary focus is Bathurst itself with touches in the surrounding communities. Aside from that, we have both an English and French language radio station, the latter of which provides away game radio coverage. My goal is to provide fans of junior hockey – whether they’re a Titan fan or someone looking for coverage of a game where their team is facing the Titan – a place to go where traditional media may not be able to go.
Even I have limits, however. Those limits would be access. In this case, access to the truth.
If we look at Walsh’s record in the QMJHL, he was a first-round draft pick of the Québec Remparts in 2010. This was when Patrick Roy was still the man in charge of the Remparts before departing this past summer for a similar role with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. Walsh, a left-winger, played 35 games in his rookie season (2010-2011) having made the team’s roster out of training camp and playing regularly up until the middle of December that year. He would actually go two months between games, making a brief return for two games before disappearing again until the start of the next season. During his rookie season, Walsh would not score a goal but registered four assists while incurring 12 penalty minutes hand having a minus-nine rating in 35 games. Québec would make a run in the playoffs, only to be eliminated in a seven-game semi-final series to the Gatineau Olympiques 4-3. Walsh wouldn’t see any action during the run.
Walsh would be back in the Remparts’ line-up at the start of the 2011-2012 season, but would not register a point until scoring his first QMJHL goal on Oct. 29 of that year. He would go on to play in a total of 55 games, scoring four more goals and adding an assist. He cut the amount of penalty minutes he was assessed in half, taking just three minor penalties and finishing with a minus-four rating. In addition to playing 10 games for the Vaudreuil-Dorion Mustangs of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League, Walsh would once again not play in Québec’s play-off run which ended in the quarter-final run that saw the Halifax Mooseheads come back from being down 3-0 in the series to take it in seven games.
Walsh’s 2012-2013 QMJHL season would not get started until Nov. 18, where he would play just 11 games, registering one goal and one assist before being traded to the Titan along with defenceman Anthony Gingras and a sixth-round draft pick in exchange for a third- and a fifth-round draft picks, both of which originally belonged to the Victoriaville Tigres. Walsh would play a further 20 games with the Titan that season before suffering the shoulder injury that forced him to miss the first two months of this season. Before his injury, Walsh would add another three goals and three assists to go with a total of 23 penalty minutes and a minus-10 rating to finish out the year.
Making his return to the line-up on Nov. 1, 2013 Walsh scored a goal in each of his first two games back, and up until Jan. 17 scored twice more and added 10 assists while incurring a total of 20 penalty minutes and earning a minus-eight rating.
Regardless of Walsh’s offensive output, when healthy he has always proven to be a solid factor in the line-up. There are just too many unanswered questions surrounding his subsequent removal from the Titan’s roster – especially when further research on the Internet Hockey Database website denotes that Walsh is no longer on the active roster. Not to mention that just hours after the rumors of Walsh’s departure, news broke that Dupont had been fired as the team’s head coach.
Hopefully at some point the truth surrounding the current mystery of Walsh will be revealed.
If he has indeed left the team for good, I wish him the best of luck in his future plans and thank him for his time wearing Titan Red.