After a year playing in Switzerland, Alexandre Texier is ready to try his luck again in the National League. “I’m ready for a new stage and it’s up to me to prove that I can be an impact player in this league,” he said Thursday during a video conference organized by the Blue Jackets of columbus.
Moreover, he is a young man who kept a certain modesty during his fifteen-minute interview with the media, in order to mark his return to the NHL. The Frenchman did not want to give more details on the reasons which led him to ask the Jackets to allow him to play a year in Zurich, not far from his native France.
The story was rather peculiar. Texier had already had three full years in the NHL when, last August, the Jackets announced that he would not play in Columbus following a recommendation from the NHL’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program and the Players Association.
He was therefore loaned to the Zurich Lions, in the Swiss National League, and even there, the mystery persisted about the circumstances behind the decision. What we do know is that the former 2nd round pick was affected by the death of two loved ones and wanted to be close to his family. “He is very close to his parents, admits Marc Crawford, his head coach in Zurich this season, on the phone. When we had holidays, he traveled five or six hours to visit them. »
About his application to the NHL aid program, Texier recalled that “everyone is different, has their story. Me, it helped me and a lot of people helped me. I realized that many people were important to me, in good times and bad. It made me realize several things about myself. Now it’s up to me to do the job.”
Expectations were high for Texier on the other side of the hill. “It’s very rare that a player of his caliber falls from the sky,” notes Crawford. In my eyes, in our league, he was the player of the highest caliber, the player closest to the NHL. But I’m not saying he was the best player. »
The winger finally scored 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 46 games, for the 3rd rank of counters for his club.
After a strong first-round run against Davos, he was limited to two assists in four games in the semi-finals against Biel, and the Zurich side were swept away.
Texier nevertheless seems invigorated from his stay. The Jackets have also made him feel that they remain concerned about his fate, the team’s general manager, Jarmo Kekalainen, having traveled to Switzerland to visit him during the season.
“They came to me and they gave me the choice. They helped me on my video game. They did everything to help me,” he said.
Journalist Simon Graf, who covers the Lions’ activities, said the stay was positive “even if it did not meet expectations for an NHL player. Fans appreciated it, because it is spectacular. We felt that he had rediscovered the pleasure of playing. You could see him smiling, after goals.”
Texier now intends to compete in the World Championship, in May, for France, before presenting himself in the capital of Ohio during the summer. His return is an interesting addition. In his final NHL season, the 2017 2nd-round pick had 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists) in 36 games, a pace that yields 25 goals and 45 points in 82 games.
The club will be very different from the one he left last year, starting with the head coach who will replace Brad Larsen, recently fired.
“There are several players I don’t know. With the jet lag, I couldn’t watch a lot of games. We’ll see what the team looks like. Anyway, that’s really none of my business, I have to focus on my stuff! »
It was well known that Texier was close to Pierre-Luc Dubois, when they both played in Columbus. The two French speakers are only a year apart. David Savard, the club’s other Quebecer at the time, was nine years older than Texier, but as he had been in Montreal for two years, he supported the youngsters. “He was a super good guy. When I came here, I didn’t speak English well. He spoke French and with Pierre-Luc, they helped me a lot, says Texier. He will always help young people on the ice and off it. For me, it was a real help. We had a few dinners at his house. He is a good team guy who does everything for the team. We’re still in touch and that’s pretty cool. »