MONTREAL — Word that a former player of 18 years in the NHL, the Canadian would not make a mistake by keeping Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the team in the beginning of the season.
This former teenager was Mario Tremblay, who still today, almost 44 years later, remains the striker and the striker at the earliest in the history of the Habs. The “Blueberry bionic” was over the age of 18 years and 75 days when he scored his first two goals in the NHL, his second career game, against the veteran Ed Giacomin, New York Rangers at the Montreal Forum on November 16, 1974.
These team records are going to last for at least a year since Kotkaniemi to be over the age of 18 years and 89 days he participates in the opening match on 3 October against Toronto. And according to Tremblay, it is a scenario that could well happen.
“It was one of the best attackers of the Canadian during the training camp,” he said Friday. “With the skills he has, I’ve been really impressed up to now.”
Tremblay was not shocked when Claude Julien said after the visit of the Leafs, Wednesday, that it would be pretty hard not to have Kotkaniemi in the team the way he behaves until now. “With what I had seen, if I had been the coach of the Canadian, I would have had the same response as Claude Julien,” has launched the ex-attacker.
In the eyes of many observers, an early career too early could be detrimental to the long-term development of Kotkaniemi. Others raise the fact that the Finn is still a hockey player, rather slender. Tremblay rejects these arguments.
“People talk about his size. It weighs 184 pounds and measure 6’2”. It comes from playing five games in ten nights. Don’t be worried for him, he’s going to draw business. It will not be when not even the first player in 18 years in the national League. When you’re good, you’re good. In addition, the Canadian is going to have nine more matches to evaluate.”
And that famous wall that many young people hit the road for their season initial? “It may be that it is more difficult some days than others, and this is normal. But I think his talent will allow him to get by.”
Tremblay had spent a little more than a month in the american League before the Canadian do the recalls at the same time that Doug Risebrough, who was then only 20 years old. They immediately formed a trio with Yvon Lambert, a little older at 24 years of age.
Around them, however, the CH there were many veterans and a rising star in Guy Lafleur, who was on the way to his first of six consecutive seasons of 50 goals. “I was confident, I was playing on a good trio, it was complemented well. I was good, because the Canadian at the time, it was only veterans. I was the baby of the gang.
“The players have taken me under their wing and have me very well adopted. Players like Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire helped me a lot. Everyone has helped me,” recalls Tremblay, who had finished the season with 21 goals in 63 parts.
If he succeeds in carving out a position with the Canadian, Kotkaniemi, do not necessarily have a company as prestigious around him. “There is still Gallagher, Danault. There are good veterans with the Canadian. In addition, there is a good atmosphere and a good team spirit. I think we can insert it into the alignment. This is the time of the insert.”