(Laval) Less than two weeks before the first game of the seventh season in its history, there seems to be an excitement never seen before around the Laval Rocket. But for head coach Jean-François Houle, the team’s young players, as intriguing and talented as they are, will inevitably have to go through a period of adaptation.
Houle gave this reminder after completing training sessions of approximately 40 minutes with two groups of players Monday noon, during the inaugural day of the Rocket training camp at Place Bell.
“I think it’s a great challenge. “It’s certain that we’re going to be young, but they’re young people with talent,” Houle said of his group of players.
“As I’ve said in other interviews, the start of the year might be a little rock’n roll, but I think after Christmas, when we’re well established, we should be fine “, he added.
When he uses the expression “rock’n roll”, Houle actually means that the start of the season will probably not be perfect.
“It’s about establishing our structure, showing young people how to become professionals. It takes a little time. Whether they come from any league, it doesn’t happen overnight. We are ready for that. They’re going to make mistakes at first, that’s normal. That’s why I say it’s going to be a bit “rock’n roll”,” he explained.
As Houle mentioned during his meeting with the media, the Rocket made changes within its training with the aim of inserting new blood. Houle admitted it: he was looking forward to Monday.
“Super excited,” he even qualified.
“All summer, we knew we were going to have a younger team. We decided to make certain player movements to make room for these players. (Peter) Abbandonato, in particular, who was among our top five scorers. Anthony Richard who is no longer there, (Alex) Belzile. We made room for young people. It’s their turn to show us what they can do. I think we have surrounded them quite well with experienced players who can support them. »
Furthermore, with the presence of young players, it is not always clear if they will eventually hit a wall, and when.
“Every player is different. There are some for whom it will be harder; there are some who will score a goal early and then go 20 games without scoring,” Houle gave as an example.
“In the American League, it’s not easy,” he added. You have players who have never played 70 games, coming from the NCAA. You have major junior players who were on the ice all the time, who will have less ice. They have to adapt. It’s an adaptation. For us, it’s about working day after day so that the young people improve and that towards the end of the year they become more mature players. »
Joshua Roy is one of the players who, Houle believes, could successfully make the transition between junior hockey and that of the American League.
“I think he can do well. He is a very intelligent player. He’s not just offensive. I think he uses his stick well, he folds back well defensively. He’s a guy who thinks before he acts on the ice. He reads the game very well,” described Houle.
Collectively, Houle has a very specific objective: to ensure that all of its players have specific roles to fulfill.
“We want to try to divide the tasks with the numerical advantage, the numerical disadvantage. “Don’t have too many players who do both,” he said.
“We like to spread out playing time for everyone. One, it keeps everyone happy; two, everyone has a role on the team and I think that in the American League, having a role is very important. »
On the second day of camp, Tuesday, two players will be added to the team. Forwards Lias Andersson and Philippe Maillet, whose names were placed on waivers by the Canadian on Sunday, were not claimed and they will join the group in Laval.
The Laval team will therefore have 37 players, i.e. 21 attackers, 12 defenders and four goalkeepers.
Between now and the presentation of the first regular game, October 13 against the Abbotsford Canucks in Laval, the Rocket will play two preparatory games.
The first will take place Thursday afternoon in Toronto, against the Marlies and the second, on Sunday, October 8 against the Belleville Senators, in Laval. In both cases, the matches will be played in the absence of spectators.