my test line

Tobie Paquette-Bisson, the rise of a mentor

By Justin Vézina

Tobie Paquette-Bisson’s phone has been busy this summer. On the other end? His former teammates Gabriel Bourque, Brandon Gignac and Olivier Galipeau, who were all preparing to wear the uniform of the Laval Rocket for the 2023-2024 season. But also, his former head coach, Jean-François Houle.

What was the nature of the conversation with the Laval Rocket instructor? Houle admitted that “[Paquette-Bisson] was missed last year” and that he would need the defenseman’s leadership qualities for the upcoming campaign. At least, that is how Paquette-Bisson recalls it. 

The number 4 played with the Laval team for two seasons between 2020 and 2022 before joining the Ontario Reign, the Los Angeles Kings’ farm club. Then, in early July, the Rosemère native finally agreed to the terms of a new contract that would allow him to return to the fold.

“It was really the Rocket who showed more interest [in me]. I loved playing here and I loved the fans. Playing here is like playing at home. I was really happy to come back,” he noted.

He’s a key player for us,” added the Rocket coach.  He was here two years ago and we had a lot of success. I think he’s a player who can be a big brother to the younger players.”

And that was implicit in the contract when the Quebecer agreed to return to Place Bell.

Becoming a role model

Although not an AHL veteran at the age of 26, Paquette-Bisson was well aware that a leadership role awaited him in Laval. And it was a vocation to which he was ready to devote himself. 

“I would say that this year my role has evolved. I’m still a reliable, defensive, physical, intimidating defender, but this year, with such a young team, I think I’m in the older five,” he said with a wry smile. At 26, I’m one of the oldest, so I knew I was going to have a veteran role.”

That’s one of the reasons why, upon his return, the defender was named assistant captain. That said, he is aware that he can still improve on all aspects.

“I’m still learning,” he mentioned. “They say you’re learning all your career and even right up to your last game.”

Nevertheless, even if he remains an eternal student, he can still pass on his knowledge to many of his counterparts. He appears to be a sage among a young defensive brigade that includes William Trudeau, 21, Arber Xhekaj, 22, and notably Logan Mailloux, 20, who is playing his first professional season.

Paquette-Bisson has been paired with the rookie for over fifteen games. What’s more, the pair he formed with Mailloux quickly found success.

“I think he helps Logan as much as possible,” said Houle of the relationship between Paquette-Bisson and Mailloux. “Since we paired them up, I like Logan’s game more. I think the two complement each other quite well. Logan is capable of taking on the offensive duties, while Tobie can take on more defensive responsibilities.”

Which explains one of the reasons why Mailloux’s performances keep improving.

“I’m trying to teach Logan to make simple plays, make plays he’s comfortable with, especially early in the game or late in the period. Then, when he sees that things are going well, he can try to do more.”

Even if the team isn’t virtually in the playoff picture as of December 9, Paquette-Bisson remains confident that the tide will turn for the club. 

“We have to let the youngsters play. You have to be patient, because the youngsters are good. They just need time,” he contextualized.

This goes to show that the big brother will always be there to defend his companions. Both on and off the ice.