The Martin St-Louis Projects

When the Montreal Canadiens acquired Josh Anderson from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Max Domi, the new Canadiens’ player opened many people’s eyes. We all knew his physical style of play but many, like yours truly, were stunned by the speed he was moving at. Then, the Canadiens’ goaltenders were shocked at the quality of his shot. When it came to effort on the ice, he reminded us of a Brendan Gallagher on steroids, faster and bigger.

In some weird twist of fate, Martin St-Louis is working with both men to “refine their game”. As he’s stated in a few occasions lately, he wants both guys to conserve energy by letting the play come to them from time to time. This is quite the change for two players who have played a certain way their entire career, even throughout minor and junior hockey.

“I was never really taught that or even thought about that,” said Anderson. “I’ve really just been a straight line guy and, as soon as Marty came in, it was about attention to details, the little things. Change your speed, maybe not go so fast and think the game a bit more in open ice. This is the NHL and you don’t always have to be beside a guy supporting the puck,” he added. “You can try to find open ice and you don’t always have to be flying. There’s a been a lot of back-and-forth video with Marty and it’s helpful.”

A new style

So how do you take two veteran players and change their DNA, a style that has brought them to the NHL and, a style of play that brought them a lot of money, making them the two best paid forwards on the club?

“If you just go, go, go,” said St. Louis, “you’re going to miss opportunities.”

Thankfully, both players are born leaders and will do what it takes to help the team. In this case, St-Louis believes that while they may seem to struggle with it at times, both players will become better hockey players and feels like it could even extend their career.

“There are always ways to improve if you’re 27 or you’re 30. I think it’s important if you’re going to play in this league for a long time to keep evolving as a player. You still need to play to your strengths but there’s parts where players have holes in their game. As a coach, as an organization, you have to help players work on those holes and the more they evolve, the more productive they’ll be and they’ll probably have a better career because of it.”

“I think this is a good opportunity to implement the concept, the culture I’m trying to bring, collectively, individually. Not everyone has the same progression and I’m not coaching everyone the same. I understand when I talk to some of the players, it might make them think a little bit and, when you think, there may be a little more hesitation in the game. But once it becomes clear through repetition, through video, through the conversation, they’re in a better place.”

Gallagher is in the first year of a six year contract with a cap hit of $6.5M. Anderson’s contract carries a cap hit of $5.5 million also for five more years after this one. The Canadiens better hope that St-Louis’ strategy works as fans are starting to worry, particularly about Gallagher’s contract.

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3 thoughts on “The Martin St-Louis Projects

  1. So many players are learning how to better use their skills. Kudos to Gorton and Hughes for hiring a coach who wants to develop players at all stages of their careers.

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