Anthony Richard would have liked to have had more time with the Canadiens to “acclimate a little more” to the NHL. “It’s certain that when I go back, I’ll feel more comfortable,” said the striker.
Richard was returned to the American League on January 10, after playing seven games with the big club. This decision avoided the Habs having to pass it on waivers and, at the same time, possibly losing it to another team.
When the Trifluvien was with the Canadian, the infirmary was considerably less full than it is at the end of January. Richard was employed on the fourth line and therefore benefited from few offensive opportunities.
“It was a combination of circumstances,” said the principal concerned to The Press after a Rocket practice on Tuesday morning.
“When I came down, that’s where there were a lot of injuries. […] I could surely have stayed there and had my chance on a more offensive line, but… veterans, it’s still hard to move in the National League. They are often the ones who make you win. The coaches have a lot of confidence in them, so I knew it would be difficult to move some.
“When we lost by big scores, I hoped to have my chance, he continued. I am confident that if I come back there, I will be able to show them that I am capable of playing on a more attacking line. »
The 26-year-old is nevertheless happy with what he showed in a defensive combination. In seven games, he has a record of one goal, one assist and a +2 differential.
“I had energy and they wanted to see if I was capable of playing that role,” he explains. They know that in Laval, I have a more offensive role, with a lot of [temps de jeu] on special units. But I think they wanted to see if I was able to be effective despite more limited ice time, to play the same game outside of special teams. They were satisfied with what I had brought. »
Since Richard’s dismissal from the Rocket, injuries have been piling up at a staggering rate at the Canadiens, so much so that the team has only 11 healthy attackers and 8 defenders left. While Jesse Ylönen, Rem Pitlick, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Alex Belzile all got recalls, Richard, the school club’s leading scorer, is still in Laval.
“I don’t know the salary cap situation, but sometimes teams get stuck. Right now, I know they have seven defenders doing the job. It’s hard for them to put one in the stands, ”he recalls.
“They have the luxury of playing at home right now, so they don’t need to bring players on the road,” he continued. […] Soon, for sure, they will have no choice but to call someone back and I hope to be the lucky one. »
He could be more hopeful of a recall if Kent Hughes manages to trade some forwards by the trade deadline.
A new letter
Richard has been busy since his return to Laval, picking up things where he left off before his recall. In six games, he scored two goals and recorded seven assists. In the absence of many of the team’s top scorers, he inevitably finds himself with greater responsibilities.
I’m a guy who puts pressure on myself to support the team and I want to show that even if we’re missing a lot of veterans, I’m capable of making the team win.
As asked by the leaders of the Canadian, he tries to “create more offensive from the forecheck”. “That’s often what creates the offense in the National League,” he notes.
His head coach, Jean-François Houle, underlined his work and his contribution by having the A for assistant captain affixed to his jersey during the last game. “He’s exciting to watch right now. […] He is a very good leader for us,” he said.
“I’ve seen a little change in his game and he’s one of our hardest shots too. This is an important aspect. »
Houle suspects that his striker is disappointed to be in Laval rather than Montreal currently. And he understands it.
“It’s normal, you’re a human being and you’re going to have ups and downs. We talk about private things, he and I, but he knows he’s close to another encore and he’s doing everything to be next. Sometimes it’s hard mentally, but we try to supervise all the players in this situation. »
A compliment that “pleases”
Saturday night, after his team’s overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canadiens head coach Martin St-Louis “tipped his hat” to Jean-François Houle and the Laval Rocket coaching staff. . “All the players we called up help us keep things moving,” he praised. They bring something to the team, they don’t just plug a hole. Asked about it on Tuesday, Houle said such a compliment “pleases me”, before giving credit to the players. “They are the ones who hold the stick, who get on the ice. […] We can give them a plan, try to help them, but ultimately, they are the ones who make the sacrifices to get as high as possible. »
Katherine Harvey-Pinard, The Press
- Anthony Richard has 40 points in 33 games with the Rocket this season.