MONTREAL – Jeff Gorton called the Martin St. Louis Special and repeated it several times.
A week after firing Dominique Ducharme and deciding, with the help of general manager Kent Hughes, that St. That vision and culture that he and Hughes wanted to establish not only to succeed again but also to be able to sustain long-term success.
“I just think Marty is just a special person,” Gorton said. “You meet a lot of people in this world. Some people you meet, you just know that whatever they do is going to be successful. This is Marty. He will help with the culture, the team, everything.”
Gorton knew then what many St. Louis skeptics discovered during the 37 games he played off the Canadian bench from February to the end of April. He said he knew well before, in fact, since he was the general manager of the New York Rangers and tried to pitch St. Louis as the coach of the AHL affiliate before St. Louis told him he wasn’t yet ready to walk away from his youth. the family as much as he needs it in order to fulfill the requirements of the job.
He also knew Hughes, who spent a lot of time with St. Louis before they joined the organization.
When I walked out of my interview with Gorton, I bumped into GM and shared that I initially thought St. Louis—which was making an astronomical leap from bantam seat to just one seat behind 31 other people in Canadian history—were being hired on a temporary basis to buy team time To research more thoroughly in the off-season, when more established coaches are available who fit the unique criteria of having to communicate in French.
Hughes shook his head.
“We could have continued with Dom and waited until summer,” Hughes said. “But Marty wouldn’t have been available if we had waited until then.”
St. Louis has been their man from the start, and on Wednesday, Gorton and Hughes announced he would be their man for the next three seasons.
A guy who turns 47 in 17 days is the right guy for the job ahead of him. He is the one who has shown, over a large sample, that he has what it takes to improve both the individuals and the team; The person who has inverted the culture of the team and established a way of playing that aligns with the way management wants you to play; Someone who has already demonstrated their ability to thrive in an environment where the focus is on development rather than winning; The one who looks set to prove he’s going to be the right man when expectations rise exponentially from where they are now, with the team reaching last place in the standings.
“I think I will always have that pressure, my internal pressure – I don’t like to lose,” St. Louis said via Zoom after his deal was announced. “But do I want to win in mindset and short-term goals, so to speak, at the cost of not developing the guys who will help you win for years? No, I don’t want to risk that.
“I want the youngsters – the prospects, the players who are here now – to reach their full potential. Sometimes you have to put those players on the ice and make them feel confident on the ice and (in the short term) doesn’t that help you win the most games? ?I don’t know, but I’m not going into the season and just thinking I have to win every game versus not developing the youth. I haven’t. I think if I develop the players the way I know I can and make them reach their full potential, I think winning will just be an effect. My side to what we do. And once you get that, I think you maintain long-term success.”
He has focused on developing everyone – not just young players – in his first half of his season and will continue to do so going forward. It is part of what has earned him the universal acceptance that he has gained and what he will continue to help him earn.
“I think we all appreciated his ability to understand what you are as an individual and how he can help you improve your game. Alternate Captain of the Canadians Brendan Gallagher told me when we touched base on Wednesday afternoon. “Things were different for all of us. I spoke to Josh Anderson a little bit this year because, even if we’re completely different players, we play in a similar style and the things he was talking about were similar. Then there were the players (stars) like Cole (Caufield) and (Nick Suzuki) Suzy, who he could communicate and talk to in certain ways. He works with you as an individual and always says, ‘You know, you’re at a certain age, you’re not going to shoot harder, and you’re not going to skate faster, but you can always improve your brain.’ He’s just worked with us and he’s thinking about the game a little differently but he’s always understood the kind of players we work with and work inside of him.”
And St. Louis did so without any hint of arrogance.
He was an All-Star player, Stanley Cup champion, Hart Cup winner, Player of the Games, Olympic gold medalist and, ultimately, a Hall of Famer player. No one was to be envied not only because he used it all as final compensation for his lack of training experience, but as an excuse to run a dictatorship.
Instead, St. Louis carried himself as someone who had never forgotten that before he was all that stuff he was the guy no one thought he could play in the NHL; The undesigned, smaller player cut from Calgary Flames; Persistent slight for life; A player unlikely to get a chance above the fourth line in the best league in the world. He took on his role, admirably, humbly.
“Show them, Marty,” the St. Louis, France mother would always urge, obligating him as a player.
St. Louis did the same as a temporary coach and will continue to do so now, even with job security at hand.
“I don’t think I’ve proven myself as a good coach yet,” he said. “I think I feel when I got into the league, I knew I had the potential to be a good player in this league, but it took me a while to prove to people that I can play in this league, and I think as a coach I feel the same way. I think I have experience and characteristics that I think are It could make me a good coach, but I will have to… My actions, the way I succeed will speak for themselves.”
Gorton and Hughes clearly believe that, and so do the Montreal players.
They think St. Louis is a special place, too.
Substitute captain Paul Byron said: “I think you’re going to be hard pressed to find one guy who’s unhappy and doesn’t want to come back and play with him or think he’s been a great coach in his short time with us.” via text. “He sees and thinks of the game at one of the highest levels he has ever played, which has been evident in his football career. But what I can say separates him from the other great players who may not have succeeded in coaching is his ability to communicate the way he sees the game to you. The way he can communicate and communicate with almost any player really separates him from most coaches.
“Men want to buy into his ideas and the culture he wants to establish. We can all see how successful he is as a player and he really feels like trying to push every player to be as successful as possible. He really manages to get your focus, your interest and a good sense of what the guys and the team feel on certain days. He makes coming to the rink a fun every day, something that’s hard to do in the NHL with the schedule madness.He has a great sense of the team’s pulse.
“We have a young team, a lot of potential clients with great potential and the top picks this year. It is really important to create a winning culture, with the habits of winning day in and day out so that seasons like these past seasons are not repeated again. This team will reach the point where it is In it playoffs are the expected norm each year with the goal of winning the Stanley Cup much sooner than people think, and there is no better coach or person at the moment who can build this culture of winning and also develop these young players to reach their full potential.”