The Montreal Canadiens announced defenceman Mike Matheson would be part of the leadership team in 2023-24.
The Point-Claire native couldn’t hide his excitement at the idea of acting as an alternate captain.
“As a kid growing up in Montreal idolizing this team, just to have the opportunity to play here is really special,” said Matheson. “But to then be able to wear a letter is that much more special and another pinch myself moment.”
Matheson, 29, has only played 48 games for the Canadiens since the trade that saw him arrive in Montreal in exchange for former alternate captain Jeff Petry, but his impact was significant and evident.
While some players struggled to find the motivation to play once playoffs were clearly out of the question, Matheson never stopped giving his all, supporting captain Nick Suzuki with the type of effort that will be necessary throughout the lineup if the Canadiens are to take the next step in the rebuild.
Head coach Martin St-Louis explained it was a rather easy choice to name a player to replace Joel Edmundson among the team’s leadership group. As a player, St-Louis also gave an honest effort every night, one of the main reasons he served as the alternate captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning for well over half a decade, not to mention the captain in 2013-14.
Beyond his excellent play on the ice, Matheson serving as a leader is a boon for the bevy of young players who are set to play on the blue line. Players like Kaiden Guhle, Aber Xhekaj, Jordan Harris, and others are sure to benefit from Matheson’s lead.
“The players have a high level of respect for Mike,” said Jeff Gorton. “Mike established himself as one of the best defencemen in the league last season.”
Matheson scored eight goals and 26 assists in 48 games last year, but more importantly, he drove the play up the ice with regularity, something the team hopes the young defencemen can do more often as the team navigates the choppy waters of a rebuild. He’s one of the few defencemen that had relatively healthy underlying numbers.
He’s also quickly established himself as a positive member of the community, spending as much time as possible connecting with as many people as possible in the Canadiens fan base.
Congrats to Montreal-born Mike Matheson on being named the newest, alternate captain of the Habs.
A user on our subreddit shared a great story today about him last year interacting with fans ♥️
— /r/Habs (@HabsOnReddit) September 11, 2023
There were other options, but from a character and performance point of view, no other player made more sense to join the leadership group than Montreal’s own Mike Matheson.