MONTREAL - Noah Juulsen took some time to chat with reporters on Friday.
The 23-year-old defenseman appeared in just 13 games with the AHL's Laval Rocket this season due to headache issues, amassing three assists and a plus-6 differential.
Here are a few excerpts from his Q&A session:
Questions from Martin McGuire, Cogeco Média
During the long process after the injury, what made you believe that you could play again?
Just having the confidence I had in the practices leading up to the one game I played before the season shut down. The coaching staff in Laval was amazing with me, and so were the trainers and everyone down there. They showed trust in me. I think that helped me a lot in terms of finding my game. The practices, and then playing that one game was huge for me.
Two years ago, you were close to earning a spot in the top six of the Montreal Canadiens' defense corps. How close are you to that spot again today?
I think for me it's going to be about finding my game again. Obviously that one game helped me a lot and built my confidence up to where it needed to be. When the season starts again, who knows? For me right now, it's just being ready for next season and going from there.
Questions from Jean-François Chaumont, Le Journal de Montréal
We talked to Joel Bouchard, and he was telling us that the fact that you played the last game of the season in the AHL was a pretty big confidence boost. How can you describe it, mentally? Is it easier for you knowing that you can be back on the ice and know that you can play at a high level?
For sure. Even that one game, it was huge for me. It was a long stretch there of not knowing what was going to happen. For me even to get just that one game, it was a great feeling. Having that confidence, and the trust of the coaching staff in Laval just to put me in that game since I hadn't played for a long time, and for them to play me quite a bit, I think I played somewhere around 18 minutes that night, it felt great to be out there again with the team.
How can you describe your health right now? You don't have headaches or setbacks since March?
No, no setbacks. I'm feeling as good as I have. When I came in, everything was going well. I'm excited to get back going when things start.
You're still pretty young, but the fact you haven't played much the past two seasons, is there any concern about what you can bring in the future?
No, for me not at all. I know the player that I am. I know the work ethic that I have, and the work that I'm going to put in is going to help me get back to where I was. If it takes a little bit of time getting adjusted to the game again, then I can rely on that work to help me find my way.
Question from Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette
Where are you right now and what are you doing to keep in shape? What have you been able to do?
I'm living at Cultus Lake in BC, just outside of Chilliwack. I've just been working out a little bit. We've got a Peloton bike in the basement, so I've been riding that quite a bit. The ice is starting to open up out here, so I'm going to be hitting the ice this week.
Questions from Marc Antoine Godin, The Athletic
You already mentioned in previous answers that you need to get your confidence back. I'm curious to know what has been the mental work for you during this entire process to make sure that you won't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself or thinking that you had dug yourself into a hole? Can you describe the mental work that's been done in that sense?
I was still engaged with the team throughout the whole process, going to the rink every day. Some days it was frustrating, for sure, but just finding a way, talking to the coaches, the trainers, the people around the rink. They helped me a lot throughout the process. And just staying engaged. I had a therapist for a couple of sessions just to talk things out and go from there.
Do you see any silver lining to this happening to you?
I think in a way it built me a little tougher. Going through something like that isn't easy. Every day you're wondering what's going to happen, what's the next step, and all these kinds of things. It helped me in that sense, but hopefully it's the end of what's gone on.