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Nick Suzuki: his progress off the ice is as important as his progress on it

Last year, Nick Suzuki scored 66 points in 82 games. For a guy who wasn’t surrounded, that’s not bad at all.

We know that when the Ontarian was, everything ran smoothly. In 25 games (24 and a half, in fact) with Sean Monahan protecting him in the lineup, Suzuki scored 28 points, including 14 goals.

At the time, he was scoring as much as Cole Caufield.

His 28th point in 25 games came on a Monahan goal. The captain was doing well and the club was a few points ahead of the Sabres and Sens in the standings.

Then, Monahan’s injury was the first domino in what I’m going to call a long journey through the desert. Suzuki finished the season alone (for all intents and purposes) and scored 66 points, 41 more, in 57 games.

It wasn’t the pace of yesteryear.

But now, with Sean Monahan doing well (for how long?), Cole Caufield also doing well, half the team back and the therapist department upgraded, you’d think this would help Suzuki perform better this season.

I believe that point per game (plus or minus a few points) is possible in his case. I’d be happy with a season between 75 and 85 points for #14 of the Sainte-Flanelle.

But in reality, even if we’re talking about his role as first center, we mustn’t forget his other role: that of captain. It’s up to him to create a link between the young and the not-so-young.

Thanks in no small part to Nick Suzuki, who spends his summers in Montreal, team spirit is a concept that is now practiced 12 months a year in the city.

On that subject, the captain recently returned to the challenges of being the Habs’ captain in this period of rebuilding the club. And as reported by Radio-Canada’s Alexandre Gascon, he went for mileage.

And why? Because he learned on the job.

Suzuki, who is an ambassador for the Asista Foundation, also wants to develop off the ice. That means helping others, as he does with Asista, which trains assistance dogs.

It involves contact with the public…

I want people to see me and get to know me away from the arena. – Nick Suzuki

But it’s also off the ice with his teammates. For example, as captain, he has to organize activities for the boys when the club is on the road.

And now, he has to do it without Joel Edmundson.

We know he can rely on a lot of guys, including Martin St-Louis, who claimed to take leadership on his shoulders when he arrived in town in February 2022, but he’s the captain. He’s the one who has to take on more, and he does.

Between making progress on the ice, helping his team-mates, organizing activities for them, listening to them, approaching the public and getting involved in the city, it’s fair to say that his involvement goes beyond field hockey.

And here, I didn’t mention learning French, which he had undertaken.

We wondered, a year ago, how a young captain of a rebuilding club would behave. And after a year, as my colleague JB Gagné said yesterday, I can’t really see any missteps.

In bursts

– Good listening.

– Interested parties: the CH is looking for a creative services coordinator.

– To be continued.

– Owen Beck: a nice project.

– PTO for Jordie Benn in Dallas.

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