While it wasn’t quite the same level of drama that surrounded the 1998 Chicago Bulls, the Montreal Canadiens’ 2021 season did have a retrospective aura of The Last Dance for much of the team’s core.
Montreal’s shock run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final saw the final days of many veteran players in a Habs uniform, including Shea Weber, Phillip Danault, Corey Perry, and Eric Staal.
But the team also lost a rising youngster in Jesperi Kotkaniemi that summer due to an offer sheet by the Carolina Hurricanes, and it appears he’s still got fond memories of playing in Montreal — and that team’s playoff run.
Appearing on Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts podcast earlier this week, Kotkaniemi detailed an intermission speech in the locker room by Canadiens goalie Carey Price that helped the team storm back from a 3-1 first-round deficit to upset the rival Toronto Maple Leafs, which kickstarted Montreal’s miracle postseason run.
“He was just like, ‘Boys, you don’t get here every year,'” Kotkaniemi said.
Kotkaniemi wasn’t exactly clear when he remembered the speech happening, but the context of the clip makes it seem like it was likely during one of the intermissions of Game 5 between the Leafs and Habs, where Nick Suzuki scored a winning goal in overtime to keep the series alive.
“I can’t say all the words he said,” Kotkaniemi joked. “[Price added that] when you get a chance in the playoffs, you want to use it. The guys are getting older, you don’t do this every year. So you want to play for them and battle every year when you get here.”
The full podcast is available below, where Kotkaniemi also talks about avoiding getting hit by Weber’s slapshots, his time with the Carolina Hurricanes, and what he’s learned through his first five seasons in the NHL.
Kotkaniemi’s story about Price’s speech begins at the 12:30 mark:
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