Thursday, January 8, 2009

THE CRAZINESS THAT IS GUILLAUME LATENDRESSE

If you had told me a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago, that I’d be writing a blog about Guillaume Latendresse, I would have replied that you were out of your mind.

Gui always seemed liked a nice enough guy to me, but the constant media frenzy that surrounds him in Montreal drives me insane. He’s treated like an Ovechkin or a Crosby by some journalists and I could never grasp as to why that is.

And with all this attention, he always seemed a little cocky to me… A comment that comes to mind is him saying he was a “veteran among young players” last year, in his SECOND NHL year. Not SO bad, but not the most selfless thing to say either.

Here are some recent comments about him that really stand out to me from the Montreal media:

-“Latendresse has the greatest scoring potential on the Habs roster”-Benoit Brunet (color commentator for Canadiens’ games on RDS)

- “I would have liked to hear this about Latendresse when he came up from the juniors, Carbonneau acknowledging that he jump-started our team and lead us to many victories”-Michel Bergeron (former Habs coach, L’antichambre on RDS), after Carbonneau praised Matt D’Agostini this year for jump-starting the team when they were having a few off games, just like Sergei Kostitsyn did the year before (I might add that Latendresse wasn’t even a part of the conversation before Bergeron brought him up).

- “He should be on the first line” – Bergeron et al.

- “Latendresse is like Beliveau” -Bergeron again

-“We need Latendresse for scoring” -Bergeron yet again

I’m going to stop there, but trust me this is only the tip of the iceberg. This is a guy who is in his 3rd year and has never reached 30 points. He has some talent, I’ll give them that, but best scoring potential??…. be reasonable!

Surprisingly enough, I’m actually here to praise him.

First, he acknowledged one of his greatest weaknesses, and took speed skating lessons over the summer. And though he is definitely not the fastest skater on the team, he isn’t the slowest anymore, and he should be proud of accomplishing that. I’ve even noticed him prevent a couple of icings this year… something that rarely happened before, if at all, in his NHL career.

Secondly, he became a father over the summer, and I think it softened him a bit… I don’t mean weakened or anything like that… it’s more that he became more compassionate, and less egotistical.

About a month ago or so, I noticed a player tapping the 2 kids who are flag-bearers, with his stick, while coming out onto the ice at the beginning of the game… I looked up to see who it was, and sure enough, I saw #84. This was something that I had only seen Saku Koivu do in the past (and Mike Komisarek has been doing it of late) but Gui took that on, and I thought it was a very nice thing for him to do for the kids.

Another kind gesture, and I’ve seen this one a few times in the last couple of weeks… Whenever Halak lets in a goal and then Gui comes on the ice, he goes out his way to go tap him and tell him not to worry, and then skates back to the center. I think it shows leadership and great maturity… and I do think this is partially because he became a dad.

I gained a lot of respect for him in the past few months. That doesn’t mean that I’ll be able to sit through most of the media craziness, (though truthfully, it can sometimes be entertaining to see how low they’ll stoop (I mean Gui and Beliveau?!?!)) but that’s not his fault. At least I’ve finally been able to see his true colors. If he keeps up the good work with Lapierre and Kostopoulos, I think he can break his record of 29 points… maybe even get around 40. I honestly think the media pressure has suppressed him in a way, but this year, he seems to be dealing with it better, and is flourishing! Good job Gui, I’m proud to call myself a fan! Keep it up!

1 comment:

doug said...

Bergeron never coached the Habs. . . he coached the Nordiques