Through a move and the birth of his second child, Jean-Philippe Côté took the time to savor the conquest of the Stanley Cup by the Tampa Bay Lightning which took place more than 3,800 km from his home. The short festivities behind him, Côté has already put his hand in helping his team stay among the elite.
Alongside his wife, their little daughter Léa-Rose, barely a few days old, and their 5-year-old son in their new home in Saint-Augustin, the Lightning development director soberly celebrated the second title of the dealership that had hired him in the summer of 2019.
“It was about a week after giving birth. Then we fell into [la zone] red, so we were our little family cocoon together and that was fine. We uncorked a little champagne when we won. It was the same as it had to be lived. I had discussions with my father [Alain Côté, ancien joueur des Nordiques] and my uncles who saw me play in hockey. For them, it was special too.
“It was very touching when I saw the guys win. It’s a big trophy and it was a big moment, I still realize it a little, but my goal is to participate as much as possible in another conquest ”, underlined Côté during a telephone interview with The newspaper, he who multiplies the meetings with the new hopes of the organization following the draft held recently.
Close to leaders
The former defenseman chatted a few texts with coach Jon Cooper following the six-game win against the Stars. Throughout the Florida club’s elimination journey, Côté was actively involved in the decisions of the staff led by Quebecer Julien BriseBois.
“Everyone has a small percentage to play in there. I traveled with our recruiter Michel Boucher to go see a game in Chicoutimi. He was really touched because he has his imprint directly on the team, ”noted Côté, who previously was a recruiter for a year with the San Jose Sharks.
Moreover, despite the pandemic which led Côté to slightly change his way of working by being constantly at a distance, except in the case of Lightning players residing in Quebec, he continued his apprenticeship as a hockey man. And this Stanley Cup only increased his motivation and his determination to work with the elite.
“I am more and more confident in different areas where I could be more neophyte a year ago. I have absorbed the teachings of our skills coaches and add it all to my bow. What I want to do in 10-12 years is what I do, but be even better. Helping young people to develop is super motivating, and having a title also brings a little security, ”said the native of Charlesbourg.
Even if the start date of the next season is not determined, a certainty is already emerging: the Lightning will have the elements to repeat its coronation while the alignment will be more or less the same.
BriseBois will, however, have to make heartbreaking choices in order to respect the payroll for the 2020-2021 season. Youngsters Anthony Cirelli, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak are free agents with compensation.
“The window is still a minimum of two years. Nobody wants to give us a freebie either and we’ll see how we do with the payroll, but we won without the best in franchise history. [Steven Stamkos], then if it is present, it is a plus. It will not be the same team 100%, but we will certainly still be among the favorites. ”
A few hours with the cut?
The day with the Stanley Cup in the weeks following the conquest is a moment awaited by the members of the champion team. However, with the pandemic, the continuation of the tradition is not guaranteed, but Jean-Philippe Côté still hopes to touch the precious trophy.
“If she’s coming from this side of the border, I guess I can touch her, but I don’t ask too many questions either,” the director of Lightning development said with a laugh. “
“Yanni [Gourde] didn’t know when I spoke to him. I think she’s going to be in Florida for a good two months, and then she’s going to travel. Depending on what we can do at the time, I’ll share this with my close world. “
Côté nevertheless lives well with the possibility of exceptionally passing his turn due to the health crisis.
“If it’s tight, I’ll personally make sure I go third!” Yanni, we saw what he did, and Michel brought a lot to the organization. ”
Without a campaign launch date in the American League, which is dependent on the NHL, Côté must ensure that the prospects of the Lightning and those playing in Syracuse keep up the morale. And after seven months, this task is sometimes complicated.
There are players who have good attitudes and who try to take advantage of these moments. They don’t control anything, and for them it’s hard. You see the attitude in some players, some are tired, with good reason, but they must be resilient, ”exposed the former Canadian.
The latter is also awaiting instructions for the next Lightning training camp. He hopes to be invited to Tampa, unless the hockey staff is downsized. “I can’t wait to be in a team environment! “. We can understand it.