Brandon Gignac | Confidence regained, hope rekindled

Taking a step back is not always easy. But it is sometimes necessary to possibly move forward better.

On March 9, 2019, Brandon Gignac played his first and, to date, his only game in the National League. It was with the New Jersey Devils, the team that had drafted him in the third round three years earlier.

Gignac remembers it very well. On Friday evening, he played a game with his team, the Devils’ farm club in Binghamton; the first in a series of three in three evenings. In the middle of the night, he received a call announcing that he had just been recalled by the big club for the next day’s match at Madison Square Garden.

“I had a little trouble sleeping afterwards, especially since I had to get up at 6 a.m.,” he says on the phone, live from Syracuse where the Rocket will play their next match. Wednesday.

The forward believes he had a good first game in the big league, even if he was on the ice for two goals for the New York Rangers.

Since then, the National League has only been a memory for the Rocket’s current top scorer. What happened next didn’t exactly go as hoped. The Devils general manager who drafted him at the time, Ray Shero, was fired in January 2020.

“It was all to do again,” he remembers. I know Ray Shero really liked me in the draft. It was a bit of a disappointment when he left, but I had to prove myself again. […] It seems like they’ve lost touch with me a bit. I wasn’t in their plans. It was difficult, with the minutes and ice time I had. THE coach [Mark Dennehy], I was not his favorite. »

The center, for whom it was a third season with the organization, had difficulty accepting the way things had turned out. “I couldn’t be happier. My confidence was at an all-time low, so it was difficult for me to come back up,” he says.

The following season, he played two games with the farm club before making the decision to instead play in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). “I saw that I wasn’t playing anymore and I was really fed up. »

In other words, it was time to take a step back.

Direction Jacksonville, Florida.

“It was difficult to accept at first to go down a league. I said to myself: crime, I am massively capable of playing in the American League. It’s just that I don’t[avais] no opportunity to do so [à] this moment. »

“It was really good there, it was super cool. It made me grow as a hockey player and as a person, this little stepback-there. »


After his season in Florida, Gignac found himself free as the air as his three-year contract with the Devils ended. He therefore reached an agreement with the Laval Rocket for a one-season, one-part contract, before the 2021-2022 season.

“I took it as a pivotal year. I said to myself: I have to rebuild my reputation and show the league that I am capable of playing there. »

Mission accomplished: Gignac was an important element in the team’s long playoff run, with 9 goals and 4 assists in 13 playoff games.

” It was really cool to regain confidence in myself and rediscover myself as a player,” he says.

He thus convinced the organization to offer him a second agreement, still one-part, but for a duration of two years. Last year, he collected 33 points in 49 duels. And here he is, this year he ranks first among team scorers and 13the of the American League with 8 goals and 16 assists for 24 points in 25 games.

“The biggest difference in my game this year is confidence,” says the 26-year-old striker.

After starting the campaign on the fourth line, Gignac is now playing on the first line of the team, which is having a difficult season. “I showed that I was able to play well in both zones. As shown to JF [Houle, l’entraîneur-chef] that: crime, he’s doing well this year. He gave me a chance and I took it. »

With the numerous injuries to the Canadian, several Rocket players have been recalled in recent weeks. Among the lot, attackers Mitchell Stephens and Emil Heineman. It is reasonable to believe that, if Gignac had had a two-way contract, he would have gotten his chance.

“We are working hard, with my agent, to try to find me one one day. I’ll leave that in his hands. »

“It’s hard not to think about it when [un joueur est rappelé], he admits, however. I always have a little glimmer of hope each time, but in another sense, I have to focus on the next game. I am really focus on the present moment. If it happens, I’ll be ready for sure. If it doesn’t happen there, it will happen one day, I’m convinced. »

In the end, the reminders from his teammates, for whom he is “happy all the time”, show him that he is not that far from his ultimate goal. “You need to see this as a source of motivation. »

source site-62