Despite being a Norris Trophy candidate last season, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry has looked like a shell of his former self in the last few months.
And up until now, many of his teammates, including Cole Caufield, had been mirroring Petry’s degradation under the club’s former head coach Dominique Ducharme.
C’est au tour de Jeff Petry de répondre aux questions des journalistes.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 28, 2022
Tensions — and an overarching sense of gloom— with Ducharme got so bad as the Habs sank to the bottom of the league that Petry ultimately made his frustration known to the public through a subtle yet directed jab at the man behind the bench.
“We’re not playing as a team, we’re not playing as a group,” Petry said to reporters after a blowout loss in December. “It’s like you’re searching to find where people are. It seems like there’s no structure out there.”
- You might also like:
- Cole Caufield trades puck for chocolate bar with Habs fan
- Habs’ Gallagher on possible trade from Montreal: “It’s the only home I’ve known”
- "Heartbreak": Habs superfan Jay Baruchel weighs in on the Toffoli trade
Then finally, it happened. In the spirit of their clean-house approach, Executive VP of Operations Jeff Gorton and General Manager Kent Hughes announced that Ducharme had been fired on February 9 and replaced with first-time professional coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis.
Although it’s been less than a month, Petry and his teammates seem to have responded immediately to the new guy, and it’s showing up in their play.
And so with a head office full of new faces and the introduction of a charismatic leader behind the bench, the Canadiens, now on a five-game winning streak, are, for the first time in a long time, fired up.
And Petry, who has four points in his last five games, appears to have returned to his former glory as well. It would appear that a new coaching philosophy has a lot to do with it.
“With him, you’re looking forward to coming to the rink day in and day out,” said Petry in a Monday press conference. “So, it’s been a refresh and a good change too for myself and the team so far.
“He’s a coach that… he’s brought the joy back to coming to the rink.”
While trade rumours continue to circulate around the 34-year-old as the NHL trade deadline approaches, Petry insists that St. Louis is a coach he’d like to play for a “long time.”