Wanderers’ ‘new philosophy’ attracts midfielder back to Halifax

Just 14 months after leaving the team, Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé rejoins team on two-year contract

3 min read
caption Halifax Wanderers' midfielder Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé plays in a April 30, 2022 Canadian Premier League match against FC Edmonton at the Wanderers Grounds.

The Halifax Wanderers made their first official offseason signing public on Wednesday, announcing Quebec native Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé is staying in the Canadian Premier League, and returning to the East Coast.

Gagnon-Laparé, a skilled midfielder, signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season after leaving York United, in Toronto, at the end of last season.

Uncertainty within the clubs

The move came only 14 months after Gagnon-Laparé left the team to join York, following the conclusion of the 2022 season.

“There was a bit of uncertainty about where the club was heading. Obviously, there was a coaching change and you never know how that’s gonna turn out,” said Gagnon-Laparé.

For some Wanderers fans, the initial move away from Halifax was a surprise.

“It was a big shock and loss when Jérémy moved to York. He was coming off the back of a great year for us,” said Wanderers superfan Anthony Abbott, host of the Down The Pub soccer podcast.

Gagnon-Laparé was contracted for both the 2023 and 2024 seasons in Toronto. An ankle injury forced him to miss part of the season and the team finished fifth in the eight-team league. York had plans for mass changes in their roster and Gagnon-Laparé says he once again faced uncertainty with the club.

Gagnon-Laparé mutually parted ways with York, cancelling his contract for the 2024 season. He says he was eager to accept when Halifax’s offer came along.

A head coach change

Patrice Gheisar took over as head coach of the Halifax Wanderers for the 2023 season. He led the team to its first home playoff game while breaking multiple club records.

Gheisar oversaw a complete roster change when he took over, coaching 21 new players that had not been on the 2022 roster. With an average age of 23.3, they were the second-youngest side in the league.

Last season, Gheisar was named a finalist for the league’s coach of the year award.

Since leaving the Wanderers, Gagnon-Laparé said he took notice of the “positive change” Gheisar made that resulted in stronger results on the field.

“His philosophy is well understood by the players. It’s not easy to get new players from different backgrounds to gel in such a short period of time, so that was proof he was working really well with them,” he said.

Back with the Wanderers

Fans are eagerly anticipating Gagnon-Laparé’s return.

“Jérémy is a tremendous person. He always had time for the fans, being one of the first to applaud us after a win or a loss,” said Abbott.

“I think it is a great move for us.”

The Wanderers say they are equally excited to be welcoming back Gagnon-Laparé.

“Jérémy has a special ability to keep the ball moving and has a commitment to the game that will set a standard in our team,” Gheisar said in a statement. “His technical qualities, distribution and ability to chip in with assists from the heart of the midfield will make him a great fit in our system.”

When it first became official that Gagnon-Laparé would be back with the Wanderers, he says the first text he sent was to Wanderers’ team captain Andre Rampersad.

“Andre is someone I’ve got a really good relationship with and he is someone I really respect and enjoy playing with,” said Gagnon-Laparé.

The familiarity between the midfield pair promises to create matchup problems for Wanderers’ opponents.

“The opportunity to re-introduce an outstanding character with excellent leadership skills to the locker room is a natural fit,” Wanderers’ sporting director Matt Fegan said in a statement.

“We can’t wait to see him back in the Wanderers’ blue.”

Gagnon-Laparé said the fans in Halifax are a major part of what makes this team special.

“It was always really hard to come and play here as the visiting team. It’s one of the best, if not the best, atmospheres in the league so I am very excited to return to playing in front of a crowd like that,” he said.

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Cam Kinley

Cam is an aspiring video journalist from Toronto, ON with a special interest in sports media and broadcasting. He currently works for the Canadian...

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