A Phillip Danault 2.0 | The Journal of Montreal

Phillip Danault has been playing for the Los Angeles Kings for a year and a half now. Under the California sun, he spins the perfect happiness.

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As in his good years in Montreal, the Quebecer has made his defensive work a priority. However, since playing under Todd McLellan, he has given more free rein to his offensive skills.

Heading into Saturday’s game against the Habs, Danault had 19 points in 29 games. A pace of 0.65 points per duel similar to the one he maintained last season, his first with the Kings.

“I felt the confidence of Rob Blake [directeur général] and Luc Robitaille [président] right from the start, as soon as they brought me into the organization,” said Danault, who on Thursday played the 500th regular game of his NHL career.

“The coaches also trust me. First, I had to earn my place. Then, in numerical superiority, I was in front of the goal. This year I was placed along the ramp and it’s going well. »

A role on the massive attack. This is what Danault would have liked during his stay with the Canadiens. He made a few appearances there, but it was rather sporadic.

“It was important to me. I wanted to take my career to another level. I wanted to exploit another facet of my game, he mentioned. I also believed in my abilities. I needed the little pat on the back to spread my wings. That’s what I was given in LA »

More than a reputation

Under the colors of Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, Danault showed beautiful offensive flashes. His rate of 0.65 points per game, he maintained it during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons. However, his reputation across the league rested more on his efficiency on defense.

The Kings head coach is a good example of how Danault was perceived when he played in Montreal.

“What we thought we had when we acquired Phil, we have. But there is a whole other package that followed, McLellan said after his team’s morning practice on Saturday. But his offensive skills are at a very high level. »

Nevertheless, Danault remains a specialist in defensive play. At 29, he is beginning to have some influence over his teammates. Moreover, his way of playing serves as a model for young Kings players.

“He has an ability to win not only faceoffs, but also disc battles. He uses his body very well, he is strong on his skates, he has a good stick, listed McLellan. It often happens that we take clips of him to do video sessions and teach our young players. »

The confidence of his teammates

Kings veterans also find their account with Danault. His work ethic and his enthusiasm for the game quickly made him a valued and accepted teammate.

“The guys who won the Stanley Cup and are still with the team want to get another chance to do it. They want Rob Blake and our management team to add players to our roster so they can improve their luck. They want to be able to trust the players who arrive. And Phil got that confidence quickly,” added McLellan.

Happy for Captain Suzuki

Even though he plays on the other side of the continent, Phillip Danault continues to keep an eye on what’s going on in Montreal. And not only to know if it is snowing or if there is frost on the ground.

He watches how his old formation behaves. And when he glances at the stats, he doesn’t fall out of his chair seeing the names of Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield at the top of the list.

“’Suz’ is an excellent player. From the start, when he arrived, we could see that he had the right attitude and that the maturity was there. I’m not surprised, either, that he became captain. I would have made the same choice. »

When the Canadiens acquired their future captain in return for Max Pacioretty in September 2018, Danault was entering his fourth full season in Montreal.

Seeing in him the ideal mentor for his rookie, the team’s management had chosen to place them side by side in the locker room.

“I will not take credit for what he has become. The honor is his. His attitude, from the start, was different from everyone else. His maturity, from the start, was there, he pointed out. I may have tweaked it a bit. Maybe I helped him feel comfortable. But I didn’t need to keep him on the straight and narrow. He is super straight. »

Caufield, the sniper

Caufield is another youngster that Danault was lucky enough to see join the NHL. As with Suzuki, he quickly saw his teammate’s skills.

« Seeing him score so much doesn’t surprise me. Cole, he’s a sniper. I remember he scored big goals for us in the Stanley Cup final. In addition, he plays with Nick, who is an excellent passer in addition to being a very good shooter too. »

We do not know if Danault offered some advice to Caufield, but we will remember that they had shared a slice of pizza, the evening of Saint-Jean-Baptiste 2021, after the victory which propelled the Habs into the grand final.

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