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Former Canadiens Center Phil Danault Details His Last Year In Montreal

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Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens choosing not to re-sign Phil Danault shocked many fans last summer, but Danault has no regrets about how things ended.

When Danault left the Montreal Canadiens to sign a $33M contract over six years with the Los Angeles Kings last summer, it left many fans wondering what went wrong. On the most recent episode of the Poche Bleue Podcast, Danault detailed his last year in Montreal and how he dealt with the uncertainty of his situation with the Canadiens contract talks.

“It was tough. I wanted to honour my last season. I had refused the Montreal Canadiens’ offer in the summer,” said Danault about how difficult the 2020-2021 season was for him personally. “We weren’t close enough. I wanted $5.5M and it wasn’t close; it wasn’t close enough. And it wasn’t just the money, it was also the respect and everything else. At the end of the day, it’s a business and I don’t harbour negative feelings toward anyone. It’s part of the game.”

Having not been able to reach any form of common ground with the Montreal Canadiens, Danault explained that he tried to focus on his game and continue earning his way to success; something he had gone through a few years prior as a restricted free agent in 2018.

“I had lived through a contract year three years prior, so I knew what it was like,” said Danault about his experience in having to earn his way to success. “It helped me in the challenge of being successful in my most recent contract year. Then I started the season without a goal in my first 25 games, which was hard on me mentally, but the boys were there for me. At a certain point, I stopped thinking and concentrated on my own game and my family.”

Danault spoke about his early struggles with the Montreal Canadiens last season and early on in the 2021 NHL Playoffs, describing his thought process when the Canadiens were facing elimination in round 1.

“I remember in the playoffs, I was exhausted mentally and we were down 3-1 to Toronto,” said Danault about the turning point for him in the 2021 NHL PLayoffs. “I looked myself in the mirror and felt I wasn’t doing at 100%. I remember I called my father and spoke to my wife about how I wanted to step up and that I knew I had an extra gear I could get to. Suddenly, everything seemed to work at the same time, we were shutting down big lines and everything seemed to be working for us and -boom- we’re in the Stanley Cup Finals.”

The massive turnaround in his game and the team’s successes during the spring of 2021 helped Danault find some much-needed closure on his time with the Montreal Canadiens, as he felt that he truly honoured the last year of his contract and gave his absolute all to the fan base prior to leaving less than a month later.

“After that run, I had no regrets and I feel like I truly honoured the last year of my contract,” said Danault about his feelings looking back on his last year in Montreal. “And we also won on St-Jean against Vegas; it was insane! Honestly, those are memories I’ll never forget.”

For the full interview in French, see below:

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