After weeks of waiting Montreal Canada‘last position ended, the temporary card was off and the man behind the bench was finally here to stay.
Martin St-Louis put pen to paper on a three-year deal to become the 32nd head coach in Montreal Canadianiens history on Wednesday. Hockey Hall of Famer has revived hope in Habs’ fanbase despite one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Laval, 46 years old, Que. native, while aware that there is a long process ahead, said he enjoyed the three-year opportunity to work with general manager Kent Hughes and vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton to build rebuild the team.
“It gave me time and an opportunity to build something,” St-Louis said of the length of his contract. “It’s not something done in a day but I believe we’ve made strides in the last two or three months last season, we’re not going to start from scratch. It will be progress step by step. ”
Quickly turning the club into a rival is not part of St. Canada is already a young team and has younger plans after the NHL Draft, where the team was notably the first overall selection team.
For St-Louis, creating opportunities for players to play and develop was paramount during his tenure and “success will be a side effect”.
“When you’re a young team, of course winning is important but can we build something where we’re going to be successful year after year?” St-Louis said. “That can take some time to build but if the plan is to always win the next game you can win more games but I think that’s short-term success.”
“It’s about continuing the process to build an environment where the team will get to the knockout stages year after year and the players will hit their ceiling. If we do that, I think the players will be in an environment where they will be able to win when that counts. ”
With the top pick likely joining the team as soon as next season, St-Louis reflected on his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Steven Stamkos joined Lightning as the first overall pick in 2008 when he was still a player. They weren’t a good team then, he argued, but Stamkos helped lift Tampa Bay to a two-time Stanley Cup champion.
“It’s a good situation for whoever we pick as number one,” St-Louis said.
“He’s going to come and if he’s ready to play, it’s going to be a great environment for him.”
St-Louis added that the most important task ahead of the three years in Montreal was to “reinforce the culture”. He looks forward to his first training camp to begin laying the groundwork.
“(We) need to grow on what we did and it will happen day by day. I think we have eight games in training camp so we’re going to keep building – but the most important thing for me is to keep building the culture,” he said.
One player still in doubt for the upcoming training camp is Carey Price. The goalkeeper returned at the end of last season after a difficult year with a knee injury and various setbacks.
“If Carey can’t play, he can’t play. It’s not going to change what we’re going to do at camp, how I’m going to prepare the team,” he said. “It’s up to Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton to know where Carey is and whether he’s playing or not. For me as a coach, I build my camp and I won’t stop at who will be there or not. ”
St-Louis said his team will not have Stanley Cup ambitions but will focus on achieving a smaller set of successes to keep hope alive throughout the campaign.
“I always start the new year with the goal of reaching the knockout stages. Is that goal realistic? Yes, but expectations need to be realistic in relation to where we are as an organization, to the people we have and the growth we want to make,” said St-Louis. . “I attach great importance to our preparation, in terms of training camp, to be able to play the first game. We need to set ourselves short-term goals and then maybe things will become more realistic.”
“Are we going to take big steps or small steps? I don’t know but my goal is to move forward step by step.”
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