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Montreal Canadiens Players Detail Martin St-Louis’ Impact

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Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis

MONTREAL– As the Montreal Canadiens continue to navigate the choppy waters of having a roster with too many healthy players, head coach Martin St-Louis has had to rely on his interpersonal skills as much as his tactical skills on the ice.

It’s not an easy task.

Veterans want to be given more ice time to ensure they can entice teams to offer them a healthy contract, a contract that may end up being the last of their NHL career, which is not only understandable but fair.

Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the NHL is that sometimes a player who deserves a little more time in the limelight will not receive his due.

The Canadiens are building towards long-term success, which means an onus has been placed on putting young players in situations conducive to proper development. Consequently, the minutes available for older players are few and far between.

“When he came in, he had a pretty tough job,” said Brendan Gallagher. “Our group was in a pretty tough place. If you talk to him, I’m sure he’d be the first to say guys were willing to listen and buy-in. For us, the plan and the message were something we were eager to follow. It’s a relationship that has worked so far. We’ve taken a big step this year.”

Despite creating an abundance of high-danger scoring chances, Gallagher is yet to find his scoring rhythm this year. He’s scored two goals and three assists in 15 games.

But unlike his slow start last season, which saw the Canadiens’ alternate captain display his frustration on many nights, Gallagher takes solace in the process put in place by St-Louis.

“Every coach creates their own identity and own culture inside the group,” said Gallagher. “We’ve really bought into everything Martin St-Louis has been preaching. We’ve gotten results, and it’s fun to be a part of.

“The system and everything that’s in place, we understand it. It’s about how much you can master those little skills and concepts. You try to improve all over the ice, every facet of the game. There’s always room to improve.”

Of course, seeing as Gallagher is yet to miss a game as a healthy scratch, it’s a little easier to look for the positives during a downtick in production.

Consistent Messaging

However, ask most Canadiens players and they’ll repeat the same message.

The great communication between players and the coaching staff has been a crucial aspect of keeping the locker room healthy.

“They’ve been upfront with me and honest with the situation that’s going on,” said Michael Pezzetta. “That’s definitely helped keep me sane. Obviously, it’s pretty difficult not playing much so far. They’ve been great with communication. Even though it sucks sometimes, it’s good to have that communication and at least be comfortable that there’s a plan.”

There’s a lot of work left to do, and the Canadiens know that there will be valleys among the peaks, but St-Louis’ upfront and direct style of communication have served the team well in his short tenure as bench boss.

Even players that were only granted a very brief time with St-Louis have been impressed by his ability to motivate and coordinate.

“I think the one thing that a lot of guys can agree on is he’s probably one of the greatest speaking coaches of all time,” said prospect Owen Beck. “He can give any kind of speech and you’ll immediately want to run through a brick wall for him. He knows how to get guys fired up. He’s a fantastic coach. It was a great experience having such a great hockey mind coaching for a couple of weeks.”

From veterans to healthy scratches to prospects, there’s a clear consensus among members of the Canadiens organization when it comes to the significant impact made by Martin St-Louis.

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