LAVAL – “A bright future”. In unison, this is what was predicted to Rafaël Harvey-Pinard on Thursday during the Rocket’s end-of-season report.
Clearly, the young Saguenean made a strong impression in his second season in the American League. Identified as mentor by young Joshua Roy and Xavier Simoneau at the Canadiens rookie camp in September, he went on to earn the respect of the veterans he met with in Laval.
Designated as one of the assistant captain Xavier Ouellet by coach Jean-François Houle at the start of the season, the man nicknamed “HP” by teammates has forged his identity as a leader as well as establishing himself as one of the most important collaborators through his performances on ice. He finished the year in first place in team scoring with 56 points in 69 games.
“He has such a bright future in front of him, he noticed Jean-Sébastien Dea in the language of P’tit Belliveau. Off the ice he is so energetic, always smiling in the arena. These are the kind of players you want to surround yourself with and grow with in your career. I think there are great things coming for him. “
“He showed up every day and always had fun,” noted Danick Martel, his traveling roommate. Just a good guy, the kind you want on your team. They gave it an “A” at the beginning of the year and not for nothing. He works so hard, his work ethic is exemplary. Being there to supervise a young man like him is sweet. “
Houle was also won over by the qualities of his number 11. He could have spent the afternoon listing them. “I found it faster than at the beginning of the year. His launch, I found it improved enormously, “he spontaneously offered. But what particularly fascinated him was that they were pampered, cared for, treated with first-class assiduity.
“He is a serious player, he studies game. It doesn’t happen by chance with Rafael. He is doing the work to improve and I think he has a great future ahead of him “, the coach in turn prophesied.
And Harvey-Pinard, what will he remember of his season? First, that it was long. His first professional decline had been reduced to 36 matches due to health restrictions linked to COVID-19. Under his skates in 2021-2022 followed a season of 69 games and a playoff series of fifteen additional games. Despite everything, he was awarded a four-game internship, his first in the NHL.
“It allowed me to see the difficulty of the calendar, welcomes with hindsight. It’s a busy schedule, we play a lot of games. You don’t necessarily get used to it as a junior. Right there I can learn a lot. After that, taking a long push to the playoffs, with the support of the veterans and everything they’ve shown us, is only profitable. And by rubbing shoulders with NHL pros, you can definitely learn just by watching them. I think overall it has been a great learning year for me. “
A place in Montreal
It wasn’t all rosy either. A good thing, some will say, since according to proven calculations dating back to time immemorial, it is often after taking a step back that you are in the best position to take two steps forward.
Harvey-Pinard’s modest setbacks boiled down to two false starts. The first, at the end of the season, led to a collection of only one goal in the first 13 games. The second saw him start the playoffs with a nine-game drought.
Each time, things have been put back together and today the 23-year-old striker sees these little misadventures as one more tool in his trunk.
“Living those moments professionally is not always easy, but when you manage to overcome them, I think it’s only good for the future. You will relive others later in your career, there are always ups and downs, but I think coming out of them is a test. of perseverance. What we can take away is just to never stop playing the way you should play, to keep your identity. Even when there are more difficult times, keep working, give your 100%. Once unlocked, is gone forever. “
All these valuable lessons learned in recent months, Harvey-Pinard will keep in mind throughout the summer in preparation for what he considers a major exam in the fall. He says it in words, with a caution that she feels much more motivated by clarity than by fear of failure, but he says it anyway.
He wants to play with the Canadiens, full time, next season.
“I haven’t thought about much other than the playoffs lately, but I sure know what I want next year. I want to make my place in Montreal. This will be my goal and I will work very hard this summer to achieve it. “