If the Canadian wins more than expected in this first third of the season, it’s quite the opposite with the Laval Rocket. One of the positive points: the performance of Anthony Richard. With injuries piling up at the Habs, the forward is in good shape to be the next called up.
Since the start of the season, Richard has been the Rocket’s offensive engine. In 23 games, he has 15 goals and 10 assists, which places him 5e American League scoring rank.
The main interested party does not hide it; he hopes to be the next to receive a call from the Habs.
“I try to watch the games to see if there are any injuries, but the last games were a bit later. I watched the first period [mardi], same thing in Vancouver. My friends, my parents text me when there are injuries, but I haven’t received a call or nothing, ”he said Wednesday morning, after a demanding cardio workout at Place Bell.
Still, Richard is not new to the world of professional hockey. The 25-year-old athlete – he will be 26 on December 20 – knows full well that nothing is ever certain. He therefore prefers to play it safe on the expectation side.
“There are a lot of guys who are playing well,” he said. Sure, if you’re just looking offensively, yes, my name is on top of everyone right now. »
If the call comes, it will come. But for now, I’m working hard with the Rocket.
His head coach, Jean-François Houle, was more direct, saying his striker “deserves a recall”. “He scores goals, he uses his speed. Offensively, he is excellent for us right now. […] It’s the organization that will make a decision, but if [les dirigeants] ask me for my advice, it’s going to be easy, in my own book. »
On Monday, colleague Guillaume Lefrançois rightly asked the vice-president of hockey operations for the Habs, Jeff Gorton, if Richard was positioning himself as the number one candidate for the Rocket.
“You definitely notice what he’s doing,” Gorton said. We didn’t know him a ton, except to know that the Tampa Bay Lightning had called him up during the playoffs and that he had been good against Laval. He has more than one point per game so far. His game does not go unnoticed. »
Hearing these comments, the striker admitted that it was “rewarding” to know that he was not playing “for nothing”. “If I played this well and it wasn’t recognized, it would be very disappointing,” he added.
Veilleux, Bouchard, Groulx
Selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft by the Nashville Predators, Richard has been rolling in the American League since 2016. He had good first seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals, scoring 36 points in his second campaign, then 47 the next. . But then he “fell a little under the radar”, according to Richard himself.
Early in the season last year, he was cut from the lineup a few times. Then the Predators traded him to the Lightning in February. This change of team was like a second wind, “a revival at [sa] career “. At the Lightning club, he learned to be more patient and confident with the puck.
It really started in Syracuse. I had good coaches: Éric Veilleux, Gilles Bouchard and Benoit Groulx. They are renowned coaches in Quebec. They took the time to sit down with me and make some video.
His recall by the Lightning in the postseason gave him a “confidence boost” afterward, even though he didn’t play a game.
“I knew deep down that I was capable of playing there. From the field [à Montréal], I really play hockey like I was playing junior. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing now. »
Fast on his skates
One of the most striking aspects of Richard’s game is his speed. Lively, explosive, the 5’10” forward has always put a lot of emphasis on his skating.
Thanks to my parents, who spent a lot of money on power skating!
“We were lucky in Trois-Rivières, in sports studies, we always had a power skating coach. I’ve always been ultra-fast, but working on your technique means you can have a second gear, as they say. Often, that’s what makes the difference. »
According to Rocket captain Alex Belzile, who played 13 games with the Habs, “even in the National League, [Anthony] would be one of the guys very soon”.
” I think that if [je joue dans la LNH], I could adjust more quickly, be less disoriented on the speed side because the execution is faster, believes Richard. I think that after a while of adaptation, my speed could make me stand out in the long term. »