Just how much of an effect did Martin St. Louis have on the Montreal Canadiens when he was appointed head coach?
Habs defenceman Chris Wideman claims the impact was immediate.
As a recent guest on the Cam & Strick podcast, hosted by former NHL enforcer Cam Janssen and longtime NHL reporter Andy Strickland, the Canadiens defenceman had plenty to say about his coach’s locker room presence.
Martin St. Louis’s first speech after being hired by Montreal is legendary according to those who were there. Full conversation with Chris Wideman up now on all platforms! @CamandStrick #GOHabsGo pic.twitter.com/eTrRs0RvAX
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) May 9, 2023
Wideman called the moment he found out that the Habs hired St. Louis, who had previously been coaching his son’s Peewee hockey team, one of the coolest of his career.
“He was one of my favorite players growing up,” Wideman admits. “And, he comes in and and just the speech he gave, the way he united a group that was so down and so lost. I’ll never forget it.”
While he didn’t want to divulge exactly what was said that day, the 33-year-old revealed that Montreal’s former equipment manager Pierre Gervais was very impressed with the Hockey Hall of Famer’s words.
“We had our equipment manager, that had worked there for the past 30-plus years, say that that was the best speech he’d ever heard.”
Part of St. Louis’ ability to connect with his players comes from the fact that he had a difficult start to his career, going undrafted and working his way to NHL superstardom, ultimately becoming one of the best forwards of his generation.
“He looked around the room, he said, ‘I’ve literally been every single one of your shoes,'” Wideman explains. “I’ve been the guy that’s been a minor leaguer that everybody wrote off. I’ve been a guy that’s been up and down. I’ve been a guy fighting for my job in the NHL.”
As for how he compares to the many coaches Wideman has played under throughout the years, the defenceman claims that the level of respect is the highest he’s ever witnessed.
“I’ve played on a lot of teams. You really get this respect factor that I’ve never seen,” says Wideman. “You’re almost in awe. And he’s a cool guy.”