Tyler Toffoli only spent 15 months as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, but the emotions and the adversity he and his teammates overcame left a lasting impression on the veteran winger.
Prior to facing his old mates in what turned out to be a thrilling 5-4 overtime win for the Habs Thursday, Toffoli told reporters exactly what was going through his mind as he got ready to face his old teammates.
“I’ve been on a few teams now. You have to realize that at the end of the day that it’s a business. We’re trying to win games and stack up as many points as possible. Tomorrow’s just another game and we need to win.”
Toffoli admitted to still following the team after the Feb 14 trade that saw him traded from Montreal to Calgary, as he held their success at heart. That being said, he had no such sympathy in store for them leading up to their Thursday night tilt.
“That little run that they went on, I’m happy for them. But at the end of the day, I want to beat them tomorrow.
Toffoli is no stranger to being traded, having been dealt to the Vancouver Canucks during the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline by the Los Angeles Kings, with whom he had spent the first eight years of his career. However, something seemed to hit differently with this most recent move.
“It was such a great year for us last year. A lot of fun. A lot of memories. At the end of the day, we just want to win.”
And when St. Louis said last month that Toffoli was the Montreal Canadiens’ captain without wearing the ‘C,’ — high praise of Toffoli’s character, playing ability and hockey smarts — Sutter understood where St. Louis was coming from. He has seen the evolution of Toffoli up close, from afar, and, now, again with the Flames.
“I think that goes hand-in-hand with winning championships and being around captains, really good ones,” Sutter said. “You look at that L.A. group and there were probably seven or eight captains on that team when you look at it that. All of those guys would have been captains on all other teams. That was a big reason why they won championships.
It’s been a whirlwind for Toffoli, as it was when he was dealt mid-season to Vancouver. His wife Cat, who hasn’t even moved all of their things from their place in Montreal yet — was in attendance for her first game at Scotiabank Saddledome in a full-capacity, mask-less crowd.
Toffoli went pointless Thursday but has five goals and two assists in seven games leading up to this game (he added an assist in the 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens), he’s undoubtedly settling very well in his new role with the Flames.
“Coming here, I knew a lot of the guys even if I wasn’t friends with them, playing against them for so long when I was in L.A., I kind of knew everybody,” Toffoli said. “Obviously coming here, Darryl made me feel as comfortable as you could, being traded. It’s been fun. Obviously the team was playing well before I got here and we’ve been rolling, so it’s been good.”