Stu Cowan: Canadiens coach strikes stability with morning skates


Throughout his Corridor of Fame enjoying profession, morning skates on recreation days had been vital to Martin St. Louis.

“I all the time went on the ice in all probability sooner than everybody and stayed later,” the Canadiens’ head coach recalled. “I all the time known as it like batting apply or it’s like going to the vary earlier than you go play a spherical of golf. You take a look at your stick, you’re getting some reps and taking your one-timers and also you’re choosing corners. I all the time needed to ensure that my device, my stick, was able to go that evening and also you get to really feel that by simply taking some reps. I assumed it was actually vital for my recreation.”

What’s St. Louis seeking to accomplish now from a morning skate as a coach?

“Simply get a bit sweat, get the blokes going,” he mentioned after placing the Canadiens by way of a morning skate Thursday on the Bell Centre earlier than dealing with the New York Rangers. “Somewhat little bit of camaraderie, too. I believe this yr, with the little quantity of practices we now have (due to a busy recreation schedule) we in all probability have extra morning skates. I believe after we practise loads, in all probability extra non-obligatory (morning skates). So it’s a stability. There’s not one set strategy to do it, however attempting to handle the schedule.”

Thursday’s recreation

was the second of 4 straight at dwelling for the Canadiens. Wednesday’s apply in Brossard was an non-obligatory, with solely 10 gamers collaborating, however Thursday’s morning skate was a full-team affair.

Morning skates are a longtime custom within the NHL, first began by coaches like Scotty Bowman throughout the Nineteen Seventies as a strategy to hopefully get gamers out of the bars earlier the evening earlier than or at the least sweat out what they may have consumed. However as instances have modified and “load administration” has turn out to be a time period in professional sports activities, morning skates are being phased out.

St. Louis made a change to the morning skates this season, holding all of them on the Bell Centre as an alternative of in Brossard. Since solely three of the present gamers reside on Montreal’s South Shore — Jake Allen, David Savard and Mike Hoffman (together with Paul Byron and Carey Value, who’re on long-term injured reserve) — the commute is simpler. However that’s not the one motive holding morning skates on the Bell Centre is smart.

“I solely have a five-minute drive, so I like it,” veteran defenceman Joel Edmundson mentioned. “Each workforce I’ve performed on, we’ve all the time morning skated on the recreation rink. Simply the mindset. If you happen to practise on the apply rink, you simply assume it’s only a apply. However when you come right here within the morning, you realize it’s a recreation evening.”

Edmundson likes morning skates.

“I believe it’s simply to get my legs going, get my palms going,” he mentioned. “Will get my thoughts within the mindset that we now have a recreation that evening. After which all the time attempt to get a two-hour nap after which present up right here about three hours earlier than the sport.”

Rookie defenceman Kaiden Guhle

additionally lives close to the Bell Centre and likes morning skates.

“I believe it’s good to only get on the market, really feel the ice, really feel the puck a bit bit,” he mentioned. “Get a few touches. It helps me nap higher, too, after I get a morning skate. I additionally prefer it on the Bell Centre. It’s simply good to be within the constructing and get a really feel for the constructing. It’s good to get right here within the morning and really feel the vibe within the room and the rink. I prefer it right here.”

Once I requested Allen if he likes morning skates, he laughed and checked out me prefer it was a loaded query for a goalie — particularly one who lives on the South Shore.

“I really don’t thoughts them, particularly after I play,” he mentioned. “I’m on the market for 10 minutes, so it’s actually nothing. It’s simply part of the sport. Ultimately, you’re going to see it fade away. I really imagine it. I’ll be lengthy passed by then, however you’ll see it fade away.”

One other change the brand new Canadiens administration workforce made this season was hiring personal cooks to cook dinner meals for the gamers on the Bell Centre and in Brossard.

Guhle mentioned he wakes up round 8 a.m. for a ten:30 morning skate and heads straight to the Bell Centre to get breakfast. The gamers are additionally supplied with lunches they will eat on the rink or take dwelling after the morning skate and there may be additionally a post-game meal.

“It’s candy,” Guhle mentioned about having the workforce cooks. “I barely even cook dinner at dwelling now. We’re actually lucky to have the stuff right here and have our cooks, who cook dinner nice meals for us. We’re undoubtedly fairly fortunate and privileged to have that.

“It’s good,” the 21-year-old rookie added. “A superb life, for certain. I by no means would have anticipated it to be like this the place we get handled so nicely right here.”

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