Nick Suzuki takes stock of his first months as captain of the Canadiens

Nick Suzuki takes stock of his first months as captain of the Canadiens


FORT LAUDERDALE | Gary Bettman has long dreamed of popularizing hockey in the American South. For this NHL All-Star Game in Florida, the commissioner must rejoice in the images where the beach, the Atlantic Ocean and the sun combine with hockey. 

On the eve of the skills competition, the NHL executives had chosen a terrace on a posh Fort Lauderdale hotel for the meeting with the media. Nick Suzuki, Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin and brothers Matthew and Brady Tkachuk found themselves in an enchanting setting, light years away from the polar cold that hits Quebec.

For a second year in a row, Suzuki serves as the sole representative of the Canadiens, a rebuilding team.

“It's special for me,” Suzuki said with a smile. I like seeing other NHL players and being able to interact with them. I would like to come back from the all-star game with autographs from all the players on my own jersey. And I would like to leave with a stick of Ovechkin. I know Cole (Caufield) already has a stick of Ovi and I'm jealous of it. »


After questions with journalists from across North America, Suzuki met with Robert Laflamme from the NHL website, Jeremy Filosa, from 98.5, and the author of these lines to discuss other subjects, more related to the CH.

The 23-year-old Suzuki now has just 51 games as captain. A role he has yet to define.

“It's still a learning period for me,” he said. I want to be the best leader I can be. I'm learning to speak even more and trying to help my teammates, sometimes during a game. I want to do my best, but there are still trials. »

“I have now played just over 50 games (51) as captain in what is still a strange season. There are still weird injuries and we don't win our games with the blue shirt! “

Patience will remain an important weapon for Suzuki, especially with a team that focuses more on the future than the present.

“We would all like to win every night, especially me, replied number 14. I trust the process of the team. I had meetings with Kent (Hughes) a few times. I didn't want to get frustrated. There is the human side that stands out and it is not always obvious. »

Hoping to become a successful NHL captain, Suzuki can still look back on his days with Shea Weber who had a reputation as a natural point guard.

“Shea had several great qualities,” he replied. But we have several similarities. He always remained calm, but when he felt the need to, he got up and talked to his teammates. He had the respect of everyone. I still want to earn that respect as a young captain. I am 23 years old, I have to be a point guard for players much older than me. But I do my best to get their respect. I am happy with my job.

Inside the locker room, Suzuki does not often have the opportunity to turn to Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson, two assistants who are currently in the infirmary. 

“Despite this reality, I don't feel alone,” he explained. There are still good leaders by my side. David Savard helps me a lot. Savy has been a longtime good point guard in the NHL. He plays the right way, he inspires his teammates with his courage. Even though they are injured, I can still talk to Gally and Edmundson. »

A good coach

The CH hit rock bottom during a long journey during the time of the holidays. Between December 21 and January 2, the Habs suffered six losses in a row. There were stinging 7-2 losses in Florida and 9-2 in Washington.

St-Louis has already said more than once that his team has grown from this slump.

“If you're not ready to fight every night, you can get destroyed,” Suzuki said. At this point in the season, we had holes all over our defensive game.

“I spoke to Marty after that. He told me he was probably too positive in dark times. He wanted to change his approach a bit, like his reactions inside the locker room. Marty is a very good coach. We all love him and want to play with our hearts for him. »