Suzuki: “A real honor and a huge privilege”


LAVAL-SUR-LE-LAC – Shortly before Martin St-Louis appeared before reporters to make the announcement, white smoke was seen billowing from the chimneys of the Laval-sur-le-Lac golf club.

As is the case in the Vatican for the election of a pope, it was then thought that the Montreal Canadiens might name a captain during the team’s annual golf tournament.

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A few moments later, Nick Suzuki walked out of the clubhouse wearing a red jersey emblazoned with the captain’s letter ‘C’.

« Hello, it’s an honor to be the new captain of the Montreal Canadiens, » the young CH striker first spoke in French.

« It’s a real honor and a huge privilege, » he continued in English. “The team is on the right track. I could hardly be more excited to act as his captain and be his representative. »

At just 23 years old, Suzuki succeeds Shea Weber as the 31st captain in Canadiens history. In a twist of fate, almost four years ago, to the day, the Habs acquired the Vegas Golden Knights in the trade of captain Max Pacioretty.

Suzuki, which was the choice of the team leaders, will have as assistants the veterans Brendan Gallagher and Joel Edmundson.

St-Louis said Suzuki was approached about the team captaincy during the draft session held in Montreal July 7-8.

The London, Ont., native skater said he gave himself all summer to think about his decision, although he said it wasn’t hard to make.

“When the Montreal Canadiens offer you the position of captain, the answer is easy to give…”

Suzuki, however, mentioned having had discussions with his predecessor Weber and other players on the team, in addition to members of his family.

« I think I’m up to the challenge, » he said. I know I’m young, but I feel I’ve earned the respect of my teammates since I started with the team at 20. I want to keep doing it. »

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He said he will be well supported by Gallagher and Edmundson.

“They will support me as I would have done if one of them had been chosen captain, he opined. I had a good chat with ‘Gally’ (Gallagher). He’s been with the organization for a long time. I have the greatest respect for him. We will all help each other, with the common goal of winning games. »

Gallagher, good player

The pill may have been hard to swallow for Gallagher who, following the confirmation of the loss of Carey Price for the entire season, is now the player with the most seniority with the organization. Good player, the main interested party rallied to the choice of leaders.

“Brendan is such a team player. I think he told me when I broke the news to him that it was now Nick’s team,” reported general manager Kent Hughes.

Gallagher was full of praise for his young teammate.

“’Suzy’ has the respect of all her teammates. He is the heart and soul of the team,” Gallagher began by saying. “He will take us to the highest heights and we will follow him. He has the support of everyone on the team. »

He then underlined his strong competitive side, mentioning that he has shown since the beginning of his young career that he is at his best the higher the stakes.

“’Suzy’ is incredibly calm, he always responds to the big moments and he wants to make a difference. He scored important goals for us in the playoffs. He will continue to progress. »

Hughes said Suzuki’s move is part of the youth or restructuring movement the organization has orchestrated following the team’s miserable last season.

« We took the pulse of the players last season, » Hughes said of Suzuki’s choice. “We are a young team. We have chosen a youngster who will not only be able to manage current players, but those to come. »

Edmundson joked that St-Louis contacted him last weekend to announce Suzuki’s appointment and to tell him that he would act as one of his assistants.

« I simply replied, ‘It all sounds good to me.’ »

Commenting on management’s decision to choose Suzuki, St-Louis added that choosing a captain is not a « popularity vote » with the players.

Suzuki might have won the poll anyway, had the leaders called the players to the polls.

« Nick may only be 23, but talking to him feels like he’s 30, » Habs vice-president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton said.

« Looks like he’s been in the National League for a long time. We have carefully considered our decision and we believe that Nick fits perfectly with our current situation and the one to come, ”concluded Gorton.

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