LAVAL – Anthony Richard appears to be just one shot away from his first comeback with the Montreal Canadiens and is better prepared than ever to take advantage of this opportunity, should it materialize.
On Wednesday, all of the Laval Rocket players underwent the “lines” exercise that brings grueling memories of minor hockey to many adults many years later.
While many were struggling, Richard had an early advantage over his teammates, such as his performance with the Habs school club.
At 25, the forward knows the realities of professional hockey better, so he was cautious in his comments about the possibility of retirement. This decision could be announced on Thursday or Friday by the Canadian who will face the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
“I keep working hard and if the call comes, it will come,” he said while following the latest news from the great club.
“I try to watch the games and see if there are any injuries. But the last few games were late, so I only watched the first half against Seattle and Vancouver. But I know, my friends and my parents write to me when there is an injury”, admitted the lefty.
A good player, Richard said other teammates are doing well with the Rocket like Xavier Simoneau, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Brandon Gignac.
“But if you look offensive, I think I could be the one called,” Richard admitted to see if he judged that he deserved his turn.
For head coach Jean-François Houle, there is no question.
“I think he deserves a retirement. He scores goals, uses his speed, and offensively, he’s great for us right now. If there are injuries, it should definitely be next. If the organization asks me for my opinion, it will be easy in my book,” Houle said.
Also, Richard is happy that his work does not go unnoticed.
“When you play professionally, you always do it to leave a good impression. Knowing that, in a certain way, I put pressure on the leaders, is gratifying. You see that you are not playing for nothing. I would be lying if I said that I would not be very disappointed if he played so well and that he was not recognized ”, said who displays a beautiful transparency in his statements.
Another chance three years later?
So far, Richard has tried just two games in the NHL and we have to go back to October 26, 2019 for the last one. However, in the spring, the Tampa Bay Lightning nearly sent him into the fray for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals to replace Anthony Cirelli. Richard participated in the warm-up, but finally Cirelli was able to play.
“My confidence went up a lot when I joined the team in the playoffs in Tampa. I was close to playing in the final, it’s a great boost trustworthy, it is not negligible. Since camp, I really play hockey like I did in juniors, I’m very happy, ”Richard commented to explain his current success.
Quite a change from the start of the previous season when Richard was relegated to the stands more than once with the Milwaukee Admirals.
“I had good first few seasons with them before going under the radar. The Preds had made several good draft picks and I had fallen down the pecking order a bit,” he recalled.
The trade that sent him to the Syracuse Crunch allowed him to regain his momentum.
“I’m more patient with the record, that’s for sure. I had good coaches at Syracuse in Éric Veilleux, Gilles Bouchard and Benoit Groulx, renowned coaches in Quebec. They took the time to sit down with me to make the video”, identified the skater from Trois-Rivières.
Thus, Richard was disappointed during the offseason when his association with the Lightning organization ended.
“I was falling into the unknown. Even though I knew JF (Houle) liked me a lot, I didn’t know who I would play with or if the organization would give me a chance. Except as I say all the time, the Rocket was my A-2 plan. If it didn’t work out with Syracuse, I immediately expected it to work out with Montreal. Even if I never play a game with the Canadiens, it will be one of the most beautiful memories of my career and one of the best seasons,” Richard testified.
Of course, Richard would not have refused an easier path to the NHL, but he could return there on favorable terms. In the sense that the Bettman circuit bets even more on speed and he has shown -with 25 points in 23 games- that he can produce consistently in the AHL.
Although she always had a natural talent for skating, she never stopped perfecting this art.
“I worked a lot on it. Thanks to my parents who spent a lot of money on the ice skating. We were lucky in Trois-Rivières, in sports studies, we always had 30 minutes with a coach twice a week from sixth grade to high school fourth grade,” explained Richard, who developed such a useful “second” gear.
“Beating defenders one on one is more than just skating from point A to point B,” he rightly said.
In his eyes, thanks to his speed, he would be a little less confused about running faster in the NHL.
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