Montreal Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki recently spoke about his interest in the role of captain and how he would handle the pressure of such a prestigious honour.
On the most recent episode of the Raw Knuckles Podcast, the 23-year-old centerman didn’t back down from the notion of captaincy in a market like Montreal and felt he had the tools to handle the pressure. When asked whether he thinks he could be ready for the role as soon as this season, Suzuki didn’t flinch in his response.
“We have a ton of guys that could wear the “C” and be great captains,” said Suzuki when asked if he feels he could handle the pressures of being a captain. “I have a ton of respect for all my teammates and the guys that have been here like Gally; he’d be an amazing captain if he were given the “C” . But, if it were me, I would definitely be ready for it. I think I’ve learned a ton over my three years here already. I’ve had guys to learn off of, like Gally, Webby, Pricey and all those guys I mentioned before through the playoff runs. I’ve seen a great captain like Webby and how he handled himself and I think I could do a great job in that role.”
When talking about the pressures of being a captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Knuckles pointed out a recent interview with Max Pacioretty, where the former Canadiens captain spoke at length about the pressure he felt on a daily basis as captain of the club. Nilan explained that Pacioretty felt a pressure to perform from all angles that sometimes felt overwhelming, and then asked Nick Suzuki how he would handle that kind of situation if he were captain.
“I think the fans expect a lot from the team. It’s been a winning franchise for such a long time and that’s what they expect and that’s what the players want to win games. I think everyone on the team has pressure to do well, but obviously, some more than others. I’ve always been a guy that puts pressure on himself. I know when I’m not playing well, I don’t let the media or outside noise affect how I’m thinking about my game. As a player, you have to self-motivate, know where your game’s at, know how you’re playing and don’t let anything outside affect you. That’s pretty much all you can control.”
Nilan went a little further in dissecting the channels of pressure a captain faces in the Montreal market by asking Suzuki how he would handle the media. With the members of the Montreal media always ready to hold players, especially captains, accountable at all times in a season, Suzuki felt it was an unavoidable part of the job and that he’s learned how to interact and engage with the media in a way that is healthy and productive.
“You can’t avoid them. They’re doing their job and you’re doing yours. You’re just meeting in the media room and chatting for a little bit,” said Suzuki about dealing with the media in Montreal. “I think I’ve handled it really well since I came into the team, learning from the older guys and what they do and how they speak. I think I’ve done a great job of that and I’ll continue to do that. I’m not really worried about the outside effect on my game.”
Whether Suzuki is given the captaincy this year or down the line, it does seem like a matter of when, rather than if. The youngster has shown maturity and poise beyond his years in high-pressure situations in the biggest pressure cooker in hockey without breaking a sweat. With Suzuki and Cole Caufield seen as the faces of Montreal’s rebuild moving forward, Suzuki will no doubt have a crucial role to play for the Canadiens, regardless of whether the letter on his jersey is an “A” or a “C”.
To listen to the full interview, see the video below: