This shouldn’t come as a shock, particularly not from a crew that employed a former common supervisor to function a first-time govt vice-president of hockey operations, a former participant agent to be a first-time common supervisor and a bantam coach to graduate to the NHL’s largest pulpit.
He’s 23 years previous, only a couple hundred video games right into a promising NHL profession and getting into 12 months 1 of an eight-year, $63-million contract, and neither Jeff Gorton nor Kent Hughes nor Martin St. Louis felt this additional weight could be an excessive amount of for him to bear.
Take into account this an enormous departure from the previous method of doing issues.
“It’s sure their administration fashion is totally completely different,” Canadiens proprietor Geoff Molson mentioned to reporters on the crew’s annual golf event simply moments after St. Louis introduced Suzuki could be flanked by Joel Edmundson and Brendan Gallagher in his new position.
The assertion rings true.
Gorton, upon being employed to move up operations in November, mentioned the Canadiens would function exterior the field. Hughes has embraced the unconventional since taking up as common supervisor in January. And St. Louis, in a really quick interval as head coach of the Canadiens, has taken a particularly fashionable method to working the bench.
Collectively, they made this all-important determination, approaching Suzuki on the NHL Draft in July and letting him take the time to ponder all of the ramifications earlier than in the end accepting previous to Monday’s golf event. They don’t have any reservations about it.
Neither does Molson.
“For me, I’ve identified him for a couple of years now, and he’s poised, he’s a gentleman, he’s beloved by his teammates, he’s beloved by his coaches, and simply that may be a assertion in itself,” he mentioned. “He’s younger, however I feel he’s very mature for his younger age, and I’ve little doubt that he’s able to be captain of the Montreal Canadiens.”
Suzuki’s teammates imagine in him, too.
“Clearly, it’s a fantastic honour for Nick,” mentioned goaltender Jake Allen. “I’m very, very comfortable for him. He’s very deserving. I feel, most likely, in case you would’ve polled most guys within the locker room, we most likely would’ve imagined that he would’ve been the captain of this crew, so I don’t suppose it’s an enormous shock to plenty of us. He’s very effectively revered within the locker room. He has a fantastic demeanor to be captain, particularly in a corporation of this ilk, so actually comfortable for him. He’s received such a vibrant future, and he’s going to guide this crew to place.”
It’s onerous to think about the earlier administration would’ve appointed Suzuki at this stage of his profession.
We will’t say for certain, however provided that they didn’t even need to identify a captain a yr in the past—when Shea Weber may not serve within the position and so they had quite a lot of skilled leaders to selected from (together with Edmundson and Gallagher)—it’s a stretch to suppose they’d entrust such a younger participant to hold such heavy duties.
This was Maurice Richard’s position, Jean Beliveau’s position, Henri Richard’s position, Yvan Cournoyer’s position, Serge Savard’s position, and Bob Gainey’s position. All of them have been deep into Corridor-of-Fame careers and completely versed within the wealthy historical past and time-honoured traditions of the Canadiens earlier than assuming it. They have been nominated by their teammates—most of them unanimously as a result of their expertise and character made them the obvious decisions.
It was conceivable Suzuki would ultimately observe of their footsteps, however not a given it will occur so quickly.
It’s a daring determination. Certainly one of many the proprietor and his new administration group have remodeled the previous a number of months.
“We’ve introduced in plenty of new folks, we’ve constructed our departments—analytics, scouting, participant improvement and way more,” mentioned Molson, outlining the depths of the rebuild the Canadiens have launched into as a corporation.
Making Suzuki captain is an extension of this altering of the guard.
“It’s an honour for me to develop into captain of the Montreal Canadiens,” the London, Ont., native mentioned in French. “It’s a real honour for me, and a privilege. This crew is headed in a fantastic course, and I couldn’t be extra excited to be the captain and characterize the crew.
“It means quite a bit. Simply to see the respect that the administration, teammates, coaches have for me—I do know it’s a giant position, however I feel I’m prepared for it, and there’s a vibrant future right here and I’m excited to be part of it.”
If Molson, Gorton, Hughes and St. Louis felt assured Suzuki may deal with it, it had a lot to do together with his composure, his maturity, his depth, his competitiveness and, sure, that respect that he has garnered since arriving with the Canadiens through commerce with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2018.
The child has collected 49 targets and 143 factors in 209 common season video games and been much more productive within the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He’s carried out all of it at even keel, all the time rising to the event when the event requires it, and Hughes mentioned it grew to become evident, in talking to Suzuki’s teammates all through final season, that he was the person for this job.
“He’s very mature,” affirmed Gallagher. “He’s a younger participant, however he’s very mature. And I feel a very powerful factor is he has the respect of each single man in that locker room and he’s the heartbeat of our crew.”
That Suzuki has already skilled a lot—such dramatic twists and turns in such a brief time period in Montreal—and that he’s had such exemplary leaders (like Weber) to study from will solely assist him.
“I feel we’ve been via quite a bit my first three years—going to the Stanley Cup Closing and ending in final place,” he mentioned. “There’s been plenty of highs and lows and plenty of studying experiences, and I feel I’ve gotten to deal with every state of affairs rather well and simply lead by instance. I feel it is a privilege to have that stress on you, and we need to win hockey video games, and that’s the largest cause that we’re right here.”
It is going to take time for this group, which is younger and possibly two years away from getting into its aggressive window. There will likely be onerous knocks, robust losses and suffocating stress to take care of alongside the way in which.
However the Canadiens are betting Suzuki can deal with all of that and thrive—even at this early stage of his improvement—and that’s completely emblematic of how they suppose and function.
It’s completely different. Refreshingly so.