The Canadian | From St-Louis to Letowski, in continuity

(EDMONTON, AB) Monday’s practice session ends. Trevor Letowski invites the players to center ice. In an empty Rogers Place on this Monday afternoon, the voices carry.

But not Letowski’s. On the ice as well as in front of the microphones, he speaks calmly, with a low voice. The Press would have liked to report the message from coach replacing readers. No pot. It was, to use Jean Bisping’s expression, inaudible.

“I don’t speak loudly either, so I understand it,” joked Brendan Gallagher.

After a somewhat chaotic transition day on Saturday in Calgary, Letowski led his first practice on Monday as replacement head coach for Martin St-Louis, who left the team on Friday for family reasons. It is still unclear how long this replacement will last; to the media present in Florida at the NHL general managers’ meeting, Kent Hughes said he did not know when St-Louis would return behind the bench.

In the meantime, there is no question of shaking up everything, assures Letowski. Again on Monday, the trios were the same as in the last two games.

“Our job is to continue. I’m not going to say anything new, assured Letowski. Obviously, I’m not Martin, so the message might come out a little differently, because we’re different individuals. But the tactics will remain the same. »

I continue to talk to Martin (St-Louis) several times a day. He’s still involved.

Trevor Letowski, replacement head coach

St. Louis still seems active, even from a distance. “It starts with a text. “Call me when you have a moment,” and vice versa. But I’m definitely not going to call him out without warning. It’s been like that so far. We will be in constant communication,” explained Letowski.

Gallagher also recalled that the message remains “the same”. “The structure is in place. We must do the same thing. In Calgary, nothing has changed. We just have to do our job without our leader. »

Support from veterans

For this first training, Letowski was entitled to the total. On the ice, he was counting on a team rested after a Sunday off, a team which also jumped on the ice more than 30 minutes before the scheduled time of the exercise. Letowski also counted on a full complement of 21 skaters and 2 goalkeepers.

And off the ice, it was a press scrum like you rarely see on the road. The Habs leave no one indifferent in Canada and that was measured in the number of Edmonton media who participated in the interviews.

Logically, the Ontarian will have to rely heavily on the team’s leadership group. Despite the recent departures of Jake Allen and Sean Monahan, there are still a few veterans, young and old. Before the start of training, Letowski also did a few laps of the ice alongside the captain, Nick Suzuki, and Gallagher.

Leaders must stand up in these circumstances. Everyone has to do it but yes, the leadership group in particular. We must hold the players accountable and they can help us in this regard.

Trevor Letowski, replacement head coach

Of St. Louis’ three assistants, Letowski is the only one who has been a head coach at a high level. He did it in Sarnia and Windsor in the Ontario Junior League (OHL). As he started to do again in Calgary, he will have to quickly regain his bench management reflexes, especially with the difficult Connor McDavid in the opposing camp on Tuesday. And the more convenient step Elias Pettersson and the Canucks on Thursday.

“It’s not that much different. He and Martin always talk during games behind the bench, Suzuki pointed out. It’s not like Trevor never did it. He has been a head coach for a long time and knows how to manage a bench. »

Suzuki knows something about this. Number 14 skated under Letowski at a Junior Team Canada camp, and during the Canada-Russia Series in 2017-2018. And as a player in Owen Sound and Guelph, in junior, he often faced Letowski’s teams. “His teams were very structured. He brings a lot to the table,” he recalls.

Letowski replaces St-Louis, but the CH head coach is not forgotten by his men in the meantime.

“We know how much Martin cares about the team,” insisted Gallagher. He had a big impact on us, individually and collectively. We therefore want to respond appropriately. We appreciate every hour of work he puts in for us. Now is our chance to show him how grateful we are. »

Montembeault in front of the net

Trevor Letowski confirmed that Samuel Montembeault will defend the Habs net on Tuesday. Montembeault delivered an inspired performance on January 13 against the same Oilers, blocking 39 of 41 shots towards him. The Habs lost 2-1 in overtime.


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