Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis doesn’t want to create any preconceived notions regarding newcomer Alex Newhook.
He’ll be using the upcoming training camp to evaluate all his players, including the former Colorado Avalanche forward.
“I think we’re deeper at every position,” explained St-Louis. “So we need to use training camp to see where we are, where everyone is in their development. The players understand that it’s an individual battle at camp. And you can’t be satisfied with where you are because someone can steal your spot. With the deeper roster, it’ll push every one. All the guys here are proud players, they want to good individually, and they want to do good collectively.”
St-Louis explains that the team experienced a lot of growth last season from a collective point of view, which was due to individuals improving their game.
“We’re going to stick with the process that we put in place,” said St-Louis.
As for Newhook, St-Louis did not spend much time watching video from his time with the Avalanche. He wants to give Newhook a clean slate, knowing very well that the Montreal Canadiens are a much different team than Newhook’s former club.
“I haven’t seen him from my own eyes live, I know the way he was used in Colorado,” said St-Louis. “I was very cautious of going and watching tape of him. I want to have a fresh look in our environment. I don’t want to have early thoughts based on what he was doing in an environment and context that I don’t really know.”
It’s a wise approach considering the Avalanche are a Cup-contending team, whereas the Canadiens are in the midst of their rebuild, a term St-Louis used during his media availabilities at the golf tournament, but one that the management group is hesitant to apply to the situation.
“He can fly,” said St-Louis. “He doesn’t tire out, and he competes. Now it’s all about figuring out what else he can do. What he can work on. Where he’s most comfortable.”
The Canadiens are surely interested in maximizing Newhook’s value, much like they did when they acquired the oft-maligned Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks the previous year.
But the team isn’t setting any benchmarks or tangible goals.
That’s not St-Louis’ coaching style.
He measures success a little differently than most.
“For me, success is every day,” he said. “You have to win the day. If you win the game, you think you won the day, but sometimes that little win is a mirage, because you may not have played your best game. It’s about being honest about our performance. Winning makes you feel good, but you have to be honest and continue to work on the development of young players, as well as our collective game. If we focus on that in the day-to-day, success will be a by-product of the process. ”
After stating that Newhook’s versatility should serve as a boon for the team, St-Louis gave Newhook one last endorsement, which is the type of comment young players love to hear from a former Hart Trophy recipient.
“For me, I’m really happy,” said St-Louis. “I think we got a hockey player, not a kid that can play hockey, and there’s a big difference.”