“I'll take Belzile on my team anytime” – Jake Allen
MONTREAL | There is no age to learn. But in the NHL universe, a player in his thirties making his debut remains a rare phenomenon. And the phenomenon becomes even rarer to turn a short stint into a regular position.
At 31, Alex Belzile is experiencing this phenomenon. For the first time in his career, he gets a long audition with an NHL team.
With the visit of the Carolina Hurricanes, he donned the uniform of the Canadiens for the 18th time. It was an 18th game in a row. Belzile played his role to perfection at the center of the fourth line in a 4-3 loss in a shootout against the “Canes”. He finished the game with a goal, an assist, a +1 record and a 71% (5-for-7) face-off percentage in the face-off circle.
Jake Allen, a goaltender with ten years of experience in the NHL, paid him a heartfelt tribute after the game. The New Brunswick native didn't hesitate when asked if he imagined Belzile as a full-time NHL player in the future.
“Why not. He plays like an NHL player. I don't care how old he is. I take him on my team anytime. »
“Belzile doesn't like it when guys slow down,” Allen continued. He wants to see everyone with their foot on the accelerator. He arrives at the arena with a smile every day. He brought the same energy to Laval. He was the captain for a reason, he had an impact on the young people of the Rocket. He is always happy, he has energy. »
Allen continued his answer without even taking up his breath.
“Pezz also feeds on the energy of Belzile. I find him very intelligent as a player and very responsible defensively. It solidifies this trio. Belzile understands his role. I know he hasn't been in the NHL for long, but he's been a pro for a long time.
A future coach
In another corner of the locker room, Michael Pezzetta also had a big smile while talking about the number 60.
< p>“I'm not surprised at Belz. It was a matter of time for him. He has talent and he knows how to be useful to a team, no matter how long he plays. He is a very intelligent hockey player. I have already said it, but he will become a coach at the end of his career. He analyzes the game so well. As a youngster, I learned a lot from Belz to Laval. I'm really happy for him. I hope to play with him for as long as possible. »
One day at a time
The future was not, however, a subject that captivated Belzile.
Introduced Allen's comments about him, the player from Saint-Éloi in the Bas-St-Laurent took the compliment with a certain detachment.
“It's flattering,” he replied. I play hockey like I think it is the right way. Often you don't have to be electrifying or ice dancing. When you do good deeds, you end up getting more chances.”
“But, I keep a very simple mentality, just day to day. I want to appreciate what I experience on a daily basis. I don't think too much. I am not in a situation to sit on my laurels. I fight in each of my matches or each of my appearances.
Despite some very good games lately and a harvest 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 18 games, Belzile will not claim victory. He knows he will still have to fight for his place.
“In my nature, I have never taken anything for granted, he mentioned. I can't start slowing down. I don't want to settle for nothing. I now have both feet in the NHL, but I want more. I hope to contribute even more offensively. It's my personality. I'm always looking to improve myself. »
« I find that it is coming quietly. I take my place in the NHL. »