Canadian – Sabers | Devon Levi, Cayden Primeau and meditation

(Buffalo) The doors of the Sabers locker room open this Friday at noon, at the end of a short training session. Colleagues rush to Eric Robinson, the newcomer acquired from Columbus two days earlier. Which allows The Press to approach Quebecer Devon Levi one on one.

We arrive with an interesting piece of information. A few minutes before the doors opened, 600 km from here, Martin St-Louis confirmed that Cayden Primeau would defend the Canadian’s net in Buffalo.

“I never played with Cayden, but I had the chance to talk to him. He gave me advice my first year in college, Levi says, speaking in French while waiting for colleagues from Buffalo to approach his locker. He’s a very good guy. I can’t wait to see him and Jordan Harris. And will Jayden Struble be there? » He was then informed of Harris’ injury, and of Struble’s presence during the last eight games.

The link between Levi and all these beautiful people? Northeastern University. Primeau (2017-2019), Harris (2018-2022), Struble (2019-2023) and Levi (2021-2023) all come from this Boston institution.

The attentive reader will have noted that Primeau and Levi missed each other by two years. But college hockey programs being big fraternities, the two masked men formed a bond. What advice did Primeau offer him?


Cayden Primeau

“He told me that college had been one of the most beautiful periods of his life and that I had fun,” replied the Dollardian. He also spoke to me before the World Juniors and gave me the same advice. He was like a mentor to me when I was at Northeastern. He was so good, I wanted to accomplish the same things as him there. »

Levi has nothing to be ashamed of. Primeau won the Mike Richter Trophy (NCAA Goalie of the Year) in 2019; Levi won it twice rather than once, in 2022 and 2023.

The two goalkeepers could now face each other for the first time this Saturday. On Thursday, Levi helped the Sabers defeat the powerful Bruins 3-1, in Boston. This is a great opportunity to reward him with a second start in a row, against the team of his childhood. Don Granato, however, did not want to confirm that Levi would be his starting goalkeeper.

“He has a good chance,” said the Sabers head coach. He has a 50% chance! »

A first referral

For Levi, this victory in Boston came at just the right time.

After an encouraging entry into the NHL towards the end of last season (5-2-0, efficiency of .905), the Quebecer experienced setbacks at the start of the calendar. As of November 28, he was 3-4-1 with a 3.73 GAA and .876 save, earning him a transfer to Rochester of the American League, the first demotion of his young professional career. .

Levi, however, accepted everything philosophically. “The ups and downs will only help you get better.” I could have let it get me down, but I approached it as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you adopt this mentality in life with obstacles, you will grow instead of plateauing,” pleaded the goalkeeper.

His exemplary attitude served him well on the ice, where he stopped 40 shots in a 3-2 victory in his first start in the American League. After the match, he was topped with an eagle’s head, a powerful symbolic object, the hockey equivalent of the holy chrism during the coronation of a king.

“This attitude helped me play well. I got into a rhythm, I played two matches, in addition to the one [de jeudi]. And I’m getting ready for [samedi], although I don’t know who will play. It helped me to play two matches. » The absence of goalkeeper Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who was ill, then forced his recall.

This episode demonstrates that, for Levi as for Primeau, a rich university career guarantees nothing in the pros, particularly in the goalkeeper position, where development comes later.

“I don’t know if there is such a thing as a smooth transition to the professional circuits,” Don Granato wondered, “because when they arrive here, these guys are years away from their potential. The path to excellence involves many ups and downs, challenges and difficulties. Devon already experienced it at the start of the season and he responded very well. He is going in the right direction and we are hopeful because of his dedication. »

A routine to change

Speaking of obstacles… Sportsnet colleague Jeff Marek dropped an intriguing piece of information this week. The NHL actually asked Levi to modify his meditation sessions during games.

Pardon ?

Levi would in fact indulge in short meditation sessions during the commercial breaks of his matches, generally in front of the net or in the crease.

“I started during the pandemic. I couldn’t go on the ice, so I had to find other ways to improve, he says. My play on the ice was my strength, but I had to mature, become mentally stronger. At 18, it can make a big difference. Many 18-year-old goalies can stop the puck, but it’s what’s going on in your head that makes the difference. At this level, several guys are good on the ice and mentally. »

Levi therefore adopted this routine, which he did until recently. “The goal is to let my thoughts go, not to chase after them. It’s about being in the moment, not thinking about the future or the past, making the effort to be in the present. »

His routine wasn’t a problem at university, where rink attendants only did cursory snow removal. But in the NHL, eight of them cross the length of the ice rink to shovel excess snow. Said flatly, the NHL judged that Levi was in the legs.

Our man will therefore have to find a solution. Judging by his attitude towards obstacles, it shouldn’t be a problem.

In short

Struble, the athlete


Jayden Struble

It was funny to hear Jayden Struble and Devon Levi describe each other. Thursday morning, in the Canadiens locker room, Struble spoke of Levi as a “rare bug, in a positive sense!” » “It’s hard to describe. He is special. He’s the type of guy who has his schedule, his world. If you don’t see him, stop looking for him, because he’s doing his thing in his world! », Said the Canadian defender. Levi also has fond memories of Struble, “the kind of guy you want on your team. He likes guys and wants to do everything for them. And he’s tough, he’ll defend you. You don’t want to come to blows with him! » The Sabers goaltender also confirmed the numerous testimonies about Struble’s athletic abilities. “His vertical jump is crazy. At the gym, we did jumps on a box. He can get out of bed, arrive at the gym without warming up, and he flies. It’s a natural phenomenon! »

Dahlin uncertain


Rasmus Dahlin

Furthermore, the Sabers could be without their defensive general, Rasmus Dahlin. The big defenseman missed Thursday’s matchup in Boston with a lower-body injury and did not participate in Friday’s practice. Don Granato said that his presence this Saturday against the Canadian was “possible”, nothing more. Dahlin comes to 2e rank among the Sabers this season with 21 points (6 goals, 15 assists) in 26 games. His playing time of 25 min 5 s per match is 7e in the NHL.

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