Robert Lebel, administrator (b at Québec City 21 Sep 1905; d there 20 Sep 1999). During his youth, Robert Lebel held the position of goalie at the junior HOCKEY level in Québec City. Then, he devoted himself to being a referee, a position often disregarded in the sport. To support himself, he worked as a bookkeeper in the Bank of Montréal branch at the Château Frontenac.
Toward the end of the Second World War, Lebel founded a senior hockey league for Canadian aviators based in Lachine, Québec. The initiatives of this man, who was passionate about hockey, led to his playing a range of administrative roles in our national sport.
Throughout the 1945-1946 season, and from 1951 to 1955, Robert Lebel was president of the Quebec Amateur Hockey Association (QAHA). Known for his wit and general outspokenness, Lebel made a foray into municipal politics in Chambly (Québec), becoming its mayor from 1955 to 1957. During his first two years in office, he was also president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, a position he vacated when he was elected president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, in 1957. He headed this organization until 1960. These appointments made history, as Lebel was the first French Canadian to be in control of these two major associations.
In August 1969, his efforts to unite the provincial and municipal leagues bore fruit. As a key figure in this merger, he was aptly named founding president of the Québec Junior "A" Hockey League. This division was later named the Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He retired from his work in Chambly in 1971, and a few years later, in 1975, he left the presidency of the QMJHL.
In 1961, Lebel had a well-established reputation in the hockey community. Therefore, when the CANADIAN HOCKEY HALL OF FAME opened in 1961, he was on the governing committee. Lebel himself was inducted in 1970. Twenty-five years later, he was named to the QMJHL Hall of Fame. Since the 1977-1978 season, the Robert Lebel Trophy has been awarded to the team with the best defensive average. In 1991, Robert Lebel entered the QUÉBEC SPORTS HALL OF FAME, and in 1997, he was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame.
Robert Lebel passed away on 20 Sep 1999, the day before his 95th birthday. The sports centre and a street in Chambly bear his name.