Interview with Nick Suzuki | “We are tired of losing and coming last”
(Blainville) Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes made it clear at the end of the season report: “Our expectations are changing. Recently, owner Geoff Molson added: “Expectations will be higher. »
Just over a month after the final game of a long and disappointing campaign, the organization’s senior management could not be more clear about their intentions for next year.
Will it translate into, as Hughes put it, a “push” to the playoffs? It remains to be seen. What is certain is that Nick Suzuki is happy with the public attitude of his bosses.
Met on Tuesday morning at the Bauer Innovation Center in Blainville, the captain of the Canadian did not mince his words. The last two seasons, finishing among the worst teams on the field, have been painful. “We are tired of losing and finishing last,” he said in a brief interview with The press. We have to start winning again. The next season will be important for us. »
He insists that his and his teammates’ work “doesn’t change”, “regardless of the time of year or management’s plans”. That said, “it’s good to hear that management and the owner want to start making more money,” he says. “It motivates us.”
“We saw at the start of last season the team we could be. Injuries have changed everything, but I always have high expectations. With the players we have, our style of play and our coaching staff, we can definitely push for the playoffs. »
I can’t wait for next season, I know the guys can’t wait to get back and work together.
Suzuki is actually already back on the ice with a few teammates at the team’s training facility in Brossard. He and Kaiden Guhle and Josh Anderson will spend the summer in Montreal, with young players from the club joining them over the next few weeks.
Conversely, Jake Allen and David Savard are currently training with the group, but would have to travel to their respective provincial capitals – Fredericton and Quebec – after classes end.
The news didn’t make a big splash, but the 23-year-old Ontarian last week received the Sakura Award, presented by the Canadian-Japanese Cultural Center in Toronto. This distinction is awarded each year to individuals who have contributed to the promotion of Japanese culture in Canada or abroad.
After the organization decided to highlight the athletes’ contributions this year, Suzuki shared the honor with hockey player Vicky Sunohara, three-time Olympic medalist, and former soccer player Bill Hatanaka.
“My grandfather was super proud; it means a lot to me,” the young man said of this award, presented at a gala in the Queen City.
Ham, whose great-great-grandparents immigrated to Canada, defines himself as “a Japanese neighborhood,” on his father’s side. His immediate family is “Canadian first,” he says, though he is fully aware, if only by his last name, of what his presence in the upper echelons of professional hockey means to the community of Asian descent.
Few players of this origin develop in the NHL, but the presence among the stars of the league of players such as Jason Robertson, Matt Dumba and Nick Suzuki, among others, helps to positively change the face of a still predominantly white sport.
It’s something I recognize more as an adult than when I was a child.
Nick Suzuki on his Asian heritage
He realizes that he can be a role model for young athletes of Asian descent. “I have one of the most popular names in Japan,” says Suzuki. If they see highlights of a player with that name, it might make them want to stick with hockey. »
He also dreams of going to Japan one day and organizing hockey camps there. He has already been able to measure the effect he can cause when in 2020 he met the players of a Japanese team that came to participate in the Quebec pee tournament. “It was really cool,” he recalls.
The Canadian captain concludes by expressing the desire to have a “positive impact” on the younger generation. It probably is already when you think about it.
Likely presence in Nashville
Nick Suzuki has been following with interest the recent NHL lottery that awarded the Canadian the fifth pick in the upcoming draft. “We want a very good player,” he said confidently. From the start, he names the names of Will Smith, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson among those who excite him the most, although “a couple of defenders seem to be pushing to reach top 5 “. He himself will probably travel to Nashville for the draft session. Kaiden Guhle will also be there, while his brother-in-law Riley Heidt, of the Prince George Cougars, could well be drafted in the first round. “Kent Hughes asked a couple of guys to go. .. It should probably work. Nashville, it’s not that bad,” Suzuki says with a laugh.
Simon-Olivier Lorange, The press