“I am busy with the four children and I like it a lot, but I miss the routine, I miss my teammates and play,” he admitted, from his home in Brossard.
“I try to stay in shape and work out, but it’s not easy,” he added. I have no equipment. I run and exercise, but it’s not easy.”
1- Are you worried about playing your last NHL game?
“I had this feeling in October, November and December. I thought I would be in Switzerland or Russia next year, but not anymore. Before, I said to myself “I’m 31, I’m in the minors”. I no longer believed in my chances. What is unfortunate with this break is that lately I had found my bearings, my own style and above all, passion. I have complete conviction that I am an NHL player. I didn’t say my last word or play my last game.”
2- Have you ever lost confidence in yourself?
“100%. When I went to Philadelphia (in the summer of 2016), I was arriving in a new team, a new city, I put a lot of pressure on myself since I had just signed my first long-term contract. I didn’t have a good season, but at least the campaign ended well. The following year, I often skipped my turn. I was unable to find my cruising speed. I spent the season telling myself not to make mistakes, I questioned myself. When I arrived at the Canadiens last year, I was excited by the opportunity, but the reality is that I barely played. I had a good camp in September, but for long moments with the Rocket, I was the striker who played the least. It hurt my confidence very much. I had lost the sacred fire and the love for hockey.”
3- We rarely talk about the mental aspect of hockey. It’s difficult?
“It’s the hardest part of being a hockey player or an athlete. You have to burn every day, especially when you are not a star. As a player, I have to be at my best physically and mentally every day. If I have a bad game, will I be left out of the next game? Will the coach embarrass me during the video session or will he criticize me in front of my teammates? Or will he just ignore me? There are so many things going through your mind and there is so little communication.”
“Wherever I went, it was in the NHL that there was the least communication. You have to decode everything yourself. So you start to analyze everything and that’s where you’re fucked up. You may not want to bring it all home but it is impossible. It’s not a 9 to 5 job or we erase and start again the next day. This is what is most difficult.”
4- Do you think that at this stage of your career, more opportunities will arise?
“No doubt. I am very optimistic. Four years ago, it was time for me to check out. It was a special experience to refuse contract offers to test the freelance market. My contract has sometimes harmed me in recent years, but this will no longer be the case. I will gladly accept a one-year contract, preferably with Canadians. Money is no longer important, I made my money. I just want to play and contribute as I know I can.”
5- Max Domi paid you a nice tribute on Twitter. What is your relationship?
“We are quite close to each other. As soon as I arrived, we immediately became friends. He is an extrovert, he likes to have fun, he is sometimes a bit “loud” like me and above all, he is always positive. His good words touch me, since he is an important player for us. It is a pride for me to always be positive and to contribute positively to the spirit of the group. When my career is over, I hope people will say that I was a team player and a positive person.”
6- Do you still often talk to PK Subban?
“Yes, regularly. It is known that I have always been one of its greatest supporters. The other night, we did an Instagram Live together. People appreciated, I think. I think he fueled playing in Montreal. His playing style has changed a bit since he left. Maybe it’s experience. He skates less with the puck than he did, I don’t know if it was to conserve energy, but he played a big role with the Predators when they went to the final. At 30, you have to adjust a little, but I’m convinced that he still has several seasons in the NHL.”
7- Explain to me why we call you “the Dutch Gretzky”?
“During the 2012 lockout, I went to play in Holland and collected a lot of points. When I returned to Vancouver, some media called me “Dutch Gretzky” in order to make fun of me. Let’s say I didn’t like the nickname. It was only when I came to Montreal that the connotation changed. I had had a good time with the club and the media did not use this expression in a disparaging way. I often get asked to sign an autograph and write the “Dutch Gretzky” and I do it with pleasure. If I had been asked when I was in Vancouver, I would probably have sent the partisan for a walk!”
8- We often hear players say that playing in Montreal is a dream come true. In your case, is that true?
“Without a doubt. My best moments in the NHL have been here. I scored two overtime goals in the playoffs. When I was traded to Montreal, my life changed. I found myself with the team from my childhood, my father’s favorite team. I received a tweet from Chris Nilan who liked what I brought. It was crazy. More importantly, for the first time in my career, I felt like I was playing for a team that really liked me.”
9- Have you started a business?
“This is something that my wife (Lauren) and I have wanted to do for some time. We are going to open a local in Brossard which is an all-in-one for the family called “Universe WowMoms World”. It’s a concept we love. Everyone knows trampoline centers or indoor play centers for children. Ours is a place where the health aspect will be essential. Children and parents will be able to do gymnastics, swimming, cosom hockey, lots of activities and various classes. There is a healthy bistro, a place to get your hair cut, get a manicure or pedicure. It’s ideal for the whole family.”
10- When do you open your doors?
“The official opening was supposed to take place on March 19, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we postponed it to a later date. We had hired 14 employees. No matter if my career takes me elsewhere, we are committed to maintaining this business. We really believe in the concept.”
See the Max Domi tribute below:
One of the best teammates out there. Does it all. Huge part of our team. Both on and off the ice! There isn’t a more positive guy out there. He makes it fun coming to the rink everyday and truly cares about every single guy. Special dude. Great player to. We’re lucky to have him! https://t.co/pSnVNMkVFH
— Max Domi (@max_domi) March 30, 2020