Is it appropriate to make our first choice at the next LNH repêchage? Since the appointment of intérim Martin St-Louis as head coach on February 9, the odds of the Canadien de Montréal obtaining the position appear to be dwindling.
Who would have guessed, only a week ago, that St-Louis would lead the Canadians to their first five-game winning streak in four years? Lui, a coach who had never coached a professional hockey team before accepting the offer from the Quebec state major.
Despite this, the 46-year-old Quebecer exudes confidence in any situation. He demonstrated it again earlier this week after a training session, when a member of the media asked if he was planning to derail the organization’s aims by accumulating victories.
«Moi, I’m going to “coach” for a win. When you do things the right way, you usually get rewarded in one way or another. I’m “coaching” to win,” he said at first.
When this journalist was taken into custody and asked if he had been asked to put his foot down to avoid leaving the LNH’s 32nd and final ranking and increase the possibilities of the CH putting his hand on the first choice, St-Louis didn’t hesitate for a second.
«I don’t get out with people like them who want to lose. This has never occurred to me. I’m surrounded by people that have positive goals, and when you have that mindset, you’re rewarded in one way or another», he explained.
«We are aware of our place in the rankings, and I understand that our final ranking may have an impact on our repechage rank, but I believe that everything happens for a reason in life. I’m not going to stop now. So I’m surrounded by people who want to win and are winners», continued the ex-star player of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And this mindset is reflected in the players’ proposals. Brendan Gallagher, Canada’s heart and soul for the past decade, was resurrected Saturday night after a 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
«Since “Marty” has been here, he has changed a few things in terms of time and space, but this has benefited our team. We all benefit from it; we spend less time in our territory, so it’s entertaining,” said “Gally.”
Even defender Andrew Hammond, who has only been with the team since February 12, believes that St. Louis’ method of instructing its players is reprehensible.
«C’est probablement à cause de la façon dont il perçoit le jeu. Il est capable de rejoindre les joueurs. J’ignore si vous vous en êtes aperçus ou non, mais nous disputons souvent des matchs à trois-contre-trois sur de petites surfaces de jeu. Jadis, les entraîneurs utilisaient cet exercice pour hausser le niveau d’intensité des joueurs, alors que lui (St-Louis) nous a expliqué qu’il le fait pour qu’on prenne nos décisions plus rapidement sous pression. C’est intéressant, car c’est la première fois que quelqu’un nous l’enseigne de cette manière», a évoqué le “Hamburglar”.
Cette mentalité ainsi que la nouvelle approche que St-Louis tente d’inculquer à ses troupes depuis deux semaines déjà ne sont donc pas étrangères aux récents succès du Tricolore.
«Nous progressons sans pause, in a steady manner. Every day, we show up at the boulot, we take care of the team, and we have a good time. If we do that, we’ll always be able to win, even if we don’t score many goals or if our defender doesn’t make all of the crucial stops,” St-Louis said.
And these triumphs have an energising effect on the team. Talk to players like Mathieu Perreault, who has been on the attack for a while.
«It was difficult to see (the series of failures) when you were at a distance and had to look at it from the outside… The days spent in the aréna were not always pleasant. It’s so encouraging to see how things have changed since Martin arrived. And it’s given me the incentive to put the double bouchées in place so I can get back into the game as soon as possible. a l’air vraiment “fun,” so I felt compelled to join in», explained the 34-year-old Québécois.
So, is the Canadian rassasied by his five victories? Or would he rather continue on his current path after his four-game trip to Canada’s west coast this week?
«That’s OK, but we’d like to keep going with this initiative. It’s been nice to visit the Aréna for a while, and we’d like to keep amusing ourselves. The guys put in a lot of effort, and we put in a lot of effort on conge days to maintain a high level of energy. We’ve seen so much this season, so it’s nice to see the smiles on our faces,” Gallagher concluded.
The Canadiens will play the Winnipeg Jets in their next game on mardi evening.