Arriving at the development camp on Sunday morning, a detail jumped out at you. Between the players’ bench and the boards, a screen had been mounted on a tripod. When the exercises started, we quickly understood what it was about.
Adam Nicholas, director of hockey development for the Canadiens, filmed the exercises on the ice, with his tablet. When he stopped an exercise, he invited the players in front of the screen, leaned his tablet on the strip and reversed the video he had just shot. The video was projected on the screen, and Nicholas could even draw on the image. He was therefore able to offer feedback virtually live.
“I told them, ‘If you don’t like it, say so and we’ll stop.’ But they loved it,” said the energetic coach.
“We are often told, ‘If you can’t demonstrate the exercises, you can’t teach.’ With that, I no longer have to demonstrate. I can show them directly, and the players see themselves, ‘ooh, why am I doing this? We did an exercise this week where the players all had their sticks in the air. I told them, “Your sticks have to be on the ice.” Immediately, everyone put their stick on the ice, with both hands, and it was a key detail for the defensive game. »
Prospect Lane Hutson worked closely with Nicholas last season, and he knows his intensity and creativity well. But he too was discovering this technology. “It was my first time. Adam does some pretty special things. I didn’t think he could push himself to another level, then he did! Now, an exercise we did 30 seconds ago already appears on the screen. »
The players surveyed unanimously applauded the initiative.
For now, Nicholas is targeting attackers and defenders with his novelty, but goalkeepers are still getting their money’s worth.
“You can take those situations and look at where you are, how to get to where the shot will come from faster and enjoy an extra second. You can understand what shooters are going to be looking for,” said goaltender Emmett Croteau.
The camp ended with two short intrasquad games of 25 minutes each, played 4 on 4. In the first, Jack Smith scored the only goal for the team dressed in a red reminiscent of Elvis’ uniform on the cover of King Creole. In the second, Luke Tuch scored first for the Reds and then Filip Mesar tied the game in a 1-1 draw. Both attackers hit the target with impressive wrist shots.
Without scoring, Hutson stood out in a number of ways: he set up scoring chances for David Reinbacher and he served a majestic fake to Joshua Roy, who is lucky to have two ankles still intact, and at the very end of the second game, he blocked a powerful shot from Logan Mailloux with his shoulder. The puck also left a clearly visible black mark on his white jersey.
“I was really surprised, but that’s part of the game and I admit that I didn’t want to get the puck in the face. It’s much better on the shoulder! Hutson joked.
Speaking of Mailloux, his intensity and robustness were obvious. Whether it was a little stab behind the game or a more assumed contact, his physical involvement was irreproachable. He was also entitled to the good words of Marie-Philip Poulin after the meeting.
John Parker Jones, a 6’7″ giant capable of playing both offense and defense, who holds an American League contract, meanwhile surprised many with his feints.
In a more discreet style, Adam Engstrom continues to make his way. The 19-year-old defender, drafted in the third round in 2022, has spent the majority of the season at Rögle in the Swedish top flight. He must return there next season, but his progression curve is interesting. “He’s a player,” Rob Ramage said of him, a statement that may sound very factual if taken literally, but was spoken with a certain admiration.
Paul Byron may not have had a contract with the Canadiens since July 1, but he remains in the team’s entourage. He and Nick Suzuki spoke to the organization’s 37 hopefuls who were there this week. In an excerpt from his speech published by the CH, we hear him tell young people how he has always accepted his role, whatever it is. “There are worse things in life than playing on a fourth line in the NHL,” he told them. Food for thought, as our English-speaking friends say.
Joshua Roy will make the leap to pro in the fall and it will be interesting to see what number he wears. In Sherbrooke, he wore 10, and with Team Canada, 9. In Midget AAA? 19. All numbers withdrawn from the Habs. However, for the second camp in a row, he wears 97, a number that will be more and more daring to wear. In the NHL last season, Kirill Kaprizov was the only other you-know-who player to wear it. Does Roy plan to wear 97 permanently? ” I do not think so ! I don’t think of myself as Connor McDavid! I haven’t thought about that yet, but I’m not too stubborn, ”explained the Beauceron.
Rhett Pitlick will be playing his third season at the University of Minnesota. This 2019 Habs fifth-round pick, brother of Rem Pitlick, didn’t show much offensive growth between his 1 and 2 seasons, finishing last season with 25 points in 40 games. If it’s up to him, the 2023-2024 season will be his last at the university before moving on to the professional ranks. “Hockey has always been in my family. My father, my brother and my cousin played. So I would like to get there as soon as possible, but God also has his plan. It would be great to play at the end of the season, ideally with my brother. »