Martin St. Louis did not promise a win in his debut as Montreal Canadiens interim head coach tonight, nor did he attempt to claim that he would turn this season around in terms of wins and losses in the final 37 games of the season. Instead, he promised a change and culture, and most importantly at this point for this demoralized 2021-22 team, he wants players to be excited to come to the rink and enjoy the game again.
Just mere months ago, St. Louis was coaching his pee-wee hockey for the Mid-Fairfield Rangers. While he’s entering an entirely different world and a head coach not just in the NHL for the first time, but also pro hockey in general, he still believes fun can cure anything at any level.
“If anything this team needs right now, it’s to have fun,” the hall of famer and 2004 Stanley Cup champion said in his introductory press conference Thursday. “I know when (the players) were peewees, they had a lot of fun, so I am probably the most qualified guy right now.”
Following their dismissal of head coach Dominique Ducharme on Wednesday, St. Louis was hired as the team’s new interim head coach. St. Louis will coach tonight against the Capitals and starting tonight and going forward this season is utilize his experience in an NHL dressing room and as one of the best leaders to ever play in the league. Despite his inexperience as a pro coach at any level, he believes that leadership get the Montreal Canadiens players to buy in again.
“I know I’m inexperienced behind the bench but I’m experienced on the bench, in the room […] There’s not one guy that I can’t relate to,” the Laval, Quebec native said. “You have to convince players why they are doing something, not simply tell them to do it.”
While St. Louis wants his players to have fun again, he also said he wants their best effort day in and day out and he’ll demand that from them.
“I think I’m going to be a very demanding coach, but a fair one,” the new Montreal Canadiens interim head coach said. “Not just physically demanding, but mentally demanding.”