Martin St-Louis always made a point of arriving at training camp physically ready when he played. “You feel a lot less stress than if you show up in bad shape,” he explains even today.
The same feeling animates him as he approaches his first camp as a coach. No question of doing improvisation even though he still has things to assimilate in this role which remains relatively new for him.
“A camp is a bit like a coach,” he said.
” I prepared myself. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t as the camp moves forward.
“Everything is in place for the players. I feel very confident. »
In the box Monday
St. Louis went to lead his eldest and youngest sons Ryan and Mason to Iowa State this week. Both will play with the Dubuque Fighting Saints, a USHL junior team.
The youngest, Lucas, will stay at home in Connecticut, where he will play with his high school roster.
St-Louis will arrive in Montreal tomorrow for the Canadiens golf tournament, to be held Monday at Club Laval-sur-le-Lac. The course is no stranger to him since he has already played there with Vincent Lecavalier.
His playmates will find that he does very well on a golf course. But St-Louis remains modest.
“I won’t start talking about my results for the purpose of it being published in The Journal of Montreal ! he laughed. Anyway, the journalists will not be there to tell him about his golf performance when he meets them for the first time this season.
Get off on the right foot
The golf tournament kicks off the new hockey season. With the difference that, this year, the context is completely different.
The Canadian is under reconstruction. St-Louis hears pessimistic predictions. Expectations are non-existent.
“I don’t stop there,” he continued.
“The important thing for me is that we are ready for the start of the season and that we have a good start. Expectations could change gradually if the results are interesting.
“But for sure we will improve. However, I cannot say to what extent. Are we going to take a big or a small step forward? We’ll see. »
Can’t go any lower
One thing is certain, the Habs can’t go lower than last year in the general standings, becoming the first NHL team to finish last in a circuit made up of 32 clubs.
His 55 points were the lowest production in a normal 82-game schedule since the 2016-17 season.
And which team finished 30th and last that season?
The current defending Stanley Cup champions, the Colorado Avalanche, who had just 48 points.
No numbers in mind
If St. Louis says he is sure that his team will improve in the next season, he does not want to come forward in terms of numbers.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” he continued.
“It is the performance of the players that will dictate our position in the standings. We will have to go there day by day. It will go according to the results. »
St-Louis speaks the same language when it comes to Juraj Slafkovsky’s chances of earning a job with the big club. “We will follow its evolution, he resumed.
“Physically, he is ready for the National League. As to whether he will play in Montreal this year, we will make a decision that will serve his interests and those of the Canadiens. »
When I told St. Louis that it had been a long time since we had seen such an imposing winger with the Habs, he immediately threw out the name of John LeClair.
“Except he was 21 when he arrived in Montreal and Slafkovsky is only 18,” he said.
St-Louis has a good memory.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A CAPTAIN
The Canadiens will have a captain this season. Kent Hughes said so shortly after his appointment as CEO last January.
“It’s important to have leadership in the chamber,” said St-Louis.
As for who will succeed Shea Weber, St-Louis avoids mentioning names.
Defender Joel Edmundson’s name is circulating in the media. His contract is still valid for the next two seasons, some believe that he would make a good transition captain, to give Nick Suzuki more time.
The latter will already have a lot on his shoulders this season with the extension of his contract which comes into force.
Can Brendan Gallagher be ignored even if his career is on a downward slope?
No player on the team has given as much as him since his debut in Montreal.
“A captain is not necessarily the best player on the team,” replies St-Louis.
“We will make the best decision possible. »
Sorry for Price
The Habs coach also said he was sorry for Carey Price, whose career is obviously over.
“We’re talking about a guy who had a big impact not only with the Canadiens, but throughout the National League,” said St-Louis.
“It’s difficult for him. I understand what he is going through. I went through that. »
With the difference that the career of St-Louis did not end prematurely due to an injury.
“I was lucky in that regard,” he corroborates.
But it’s never easy for an athlete to bow out.
St-Louis was 40 years old when he hung up his skates. He confided to my former colleague Pierre Durocher that he had fully matured his decision and that his heart was gone.
He felt the time had come to be a full-time father to his three boys. He never regretted his decision.