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Canadiens 2022-23 Season In Review: Suzuki Leads The Charge



Canadiens captain Nick suzuki

Now that the Montreal Canadiens have reached the final game of their 2022-23 season, it’s time to take a look back at some of the crucial takeaways during year one of the team’s rebuild.

Suzuki Stands Tall

By now, the Canadiens’ endless stream of injuries has been well covered, but there was one player who managed to remain healthy despite the plague-like casualties: Nick Suzuki.

Of course, this is nothing new for the Canadiens’ Ironman.

He’s yet to miss a game in his entire NHL career, and with the exception of an occasion out of his control, he did not miss any time while playing Junior hockey, either.

His dedication to the sport is epitomized by the request made by a very young Suzuki prior to a family vacation in Florida.

“We had booked a vacation in Florida,” explains Amanda Suzuki. “He was around nine years old, and he begged Rob (Suzuki) to stay behind so he could participate in playoff games.”

Ever the supportive parents, the Suzukis knew they had to take the request seriously.

“They joined us in the last half of the week.”

Beyond his unflinching love for the game, Suzuki has also shown fantastic leadership in his first year as the captain of the most storied franchise in hockey history.

I don’t want to compare him to Le Gros Bill, because, frankly, it’s unfair to compare anyone to one of the classiest players that blessed the NHL, but it must be said that Suzuki held himself to the impossibly high standard set by the many legends that came before him.

But despite the many losses, the potential for drama, and the usual shenanigans that inevitably come with playing for the Canadiens, Suzuki was a beacon of hope that allowed Canadiens fans to dream of a better future, a future that will be captained by a young man that understands the importance of setting the bar as high as possible.

It’s a perfect time to reflect upon the first time I had a chance to speak to Suzuki, during the 2019 Rookie Showcase in Belleville.

He was far from the Canadiens’ most interesting prospect at the time.

That honour belonged to Ryan Poehling, who was fresh off a fantastic debut in a Canadiens uniform.

For the most part, pundits and fans alike thought Suzuki was destined to start the year with the Laval Rocket.

And I have to admit, I did too, as evidenced by my first question to the future captain in the dim corner of a rather crowded Belleville locker room.

“What type of mentality will you take into your season with the Laval Rocket?”

Suzuki paused, but just for a moment.

“Well, I think I’m going to make the Canadiens roster out of camp, and I expect to stay there,” replied Suzuki, overflowing with what could be considered arrogance, given his status in the organization.

But it wasn’t arrogance.

It was quiet confidence.

The same type of confidence that allowed him to navigate the choppy waters of Canadiens captaincy with aplomb during the first true rebuild in team history.

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Suzuki would have turned 20 when you interviewed him in Belleville . Same age as Roy will be in August . Similar highly intelligent players who play 200 ft. game as juniors . Maybe it’ll be Joshua’s turn this September.

Albert Vanular

Excellent article. Thanks and looking forward to reading more.

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