Montreal Canadiens: Martin St Louis Giving Alex Newhook Clean Slate

Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2022; Montreal, Quebec, CANADA; Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports /

A big sign of the new school approach to managing and coaching the Montreal Canadiens is the comments that head coach Martin St Louis made when asked whether he watched any tape of Alex Newhook.

In the past, management might have mulled over all the video footage and nitpicked the mistakes that Newhook made. This new regime is the opposite, and it is very refreshing, because the age was starting to show, and the mentality wasn’t exactly up to date with the times. Newhook was referred to as a hockey player, and not just a guy that plays hockey, which are two very distinct differences.

While he was slipping in the ranks for the Colorado Avalanche, it doesn’t mean that he is any less of a player, but that the Avalanche are a much better team than the Canadiens and they expect to be competing for a Stanley Cup each year. With limited minutes, and his game being viewed under a microscope, Newhook was playing nervously, rather than with confidence, which would discourage most players.

It’s no secret that the Canadiens are working towards becoming a contender, and they are aware that they are a few years away, but they also know that Newhook was a high pick for a reason.

“I haven’t seen him from my own eyes live. And I know the way he was used in Colorado, and I was very cautious of going and watching tape on him,” said St Louis during a press scrum at the Canadiens annual golf tournament. “I want to have a fresh look (at him) in our environment, I don’t want to have early thoughts based on what he was doing in an environment, in a context that I don’t know.”

St Louis was open in the fact that he heard tidbits about Newhook’s capabilities, and he had an idea of what he would bring to the organization. But he was transparent about wanting to figure out what his strengths are, and finding out what else he can do for the Canadiens beyond that.

Whether he will play on the wing or down the middle wasn’t addressed, but given his comments, it seems clear that he will be given a chance to play both roles and putting him in the best role for his confidence and to best utilize his toolkit, will be the most important part of determining where Newhook slots in.

Kent Hughes, Jeff Gorton and St. Louis have echoed the sentiment that they want to play a fast, exciting brand of hockey, while also making good decisions with and without the puck. Newhook certainly has the speed, and wow factor, so slotting him onto the roster should be no issue.

I would think that given the fact that the Canadiens once used a smaller, speedy player on the penalty kill could be reason enough to try Newhook there, which could prove important in allowing him to regain his confidence.

He had time on the powerplay, and there is no question that he could be a welcomed addition to the Canadiens’ attack on one of the units. Josh Anderson even stated that he believes Newhook will help out the team a lot, so the praise of the young Newfoundland native hasn’t been hard to come by.

Be it using his speed to enter the zone of the powerplay, disrupt the opposition’s pursuit to the offensive zone or push back defenders, there is no shortage of excitement towards Newhook joining the Canadiens brigade for the ’23-’24 campaign.

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