The door seems open for a reconciliation between the Montreal Canadiens and Jeff Petry. Due to a resurgence of play under Martin St. Louis and the lifting of Quebec’s most strict public health restrictions, the potential for a change of heart was hinted at by the Montreal Canadiens defenceman during the Canadiens’ exit meetings on Saturday.
“The situation was definitely different (then) than it is now. Since Marty took over, I’ve started to find my game,” said Petry about his current state of mind. “I’m going to find my game. I’m going to take some time, get back to my family, and we’re going to have a conversation. I don’t want to close the door on this organization.”
Saying that Jeff Petry has found his game again under St. Louis tenure as head coach would be an understatement, as the veteran blueliner put up five goals and 16 assists for 21 points in just 29 games. What’s even more impressive, is that Jeff Petry reached this torrid 59-point pace through even-strength scoring, having played very little powerplay time. His time under St. Louis is the most offensively productive Jeff Petry has ever been, and the veteran took the time to recognize that fact during his exit interview.
“Marty coming in, having several conversations with him really helped. Focus on one thing, and then once you feel good about that, you build on it,” said Petry regarding St. Louis’ effect on him on and off the ice. “I’m proud of how I finished the year. It gives me confidence heading into the summer and preparing for next year.”
Kent Hughes Open To Reconciliation
During the first half of the season, Petry was visibly unsatisfied and critical of the ineffective systems and strategies brought forth under former head coach Dominique Ducharme. It was evident that Petry hadn’t suddenly forgotten how to play hockey, but was simply bogged down by things on and off the ice.
“We knew that Jeff Petry was a better player than the player we saw in February,” said general manager Kent Hughes on Petry’s return to form. “It was always more a question of his family situation. We always said, if we could trade him, we would, but it has to be a trade that makes sense for the team. We always knew he was a good player.”
Hughes stated that he remained open to the idea of bringing Petry back if the defenceman’s mindset had changed since their last discussion.
“I haven’t spoken with Jeff lately to see where he’s at, but we’ll have our exits meetings today and see if things have changed,” said Hughes on his plan for Petry. ” If not, then we’ll be at the same point. We’ll try to trade him.”
The Montreal Canadiens have a strong glut of defensive prospects coming up, and Petry would certainly help as a stopgap for them as they get their feet wet in the pros. With the Canadiens also being very thin on the right side of their defence, it would make sense for the Canadiens to hold onto Petry should he wish to stay. Very few right-handed defencemen can play the way Petry does, and, if he can maintain the quality of play he showed in the latter stages of the season, he’d be more than worth his $6.25M Cap hit.
Just a perfect rip from Jeff Petry. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/vCvKZbZtk8
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 28, 2022
Jeff Petry’s Appreciation For The Montreal Canadiens
Petry didn’t hold back in his exit interview, presenting a very candid and honest opinion of the club he chose to re-sign with twice during the prime of his career. Petry spoke about his love for the city, the great setup they had for his children and his appreciation for the organization.
“There’s no better place to play, to win. Being so close last year, and getting a little taste of how amazing that could have been,” said Petry. “I truly believe this is one of the best places to play when the team is doing well. At the Bell Centre, it’s second to none.”
Petry took the time to explain the strain the last year took on his family on how it factored into his unhappiness at the height of Covid restrictions in Quebec from December to February.
“The decision to have them (his family) go back home was difficult. We both love this city; we’ve loved it for the eight years we’ve been here,” said Petry on the decision to have his family return to Michigan for the rest of the season. “It was hard for my family and her family to come and help. You’ve seen my kids; we need all the help we could get.”
Petry not only seemed revitalized at the podium on Saturday, he also seemed excited about the organization’s future, pointing to the young, emerging leaders on the team and presenting his own view on how far the club was from competing.
“There’s a lot of very good pieces in this organization. You see guys like Suzuki, Caufield, the Dmen we got, Guhle,” said Petry as he listed off the top young pieces of the organization. “It won’t take 7-8 years.”
Those certainly do not sound like the words of someone who’s made up his mind yet. In fact, it seems like his end-of-season success and the club’s finish have really complicated Petry’s decision, one that he is not taking lightly going into the summer.
Petry en ajoute!
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) April 28, 2022