MONTREAL - Before plying his trade up front, Nicolas Deslauriers was a defenseman. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that the 27-year-old forward's list of hockey influences includes a couple of Hall-of-Fame blueliners.
That has to come from my dad a lot. He encouraged me to watch defensemen. I think Ray was one of the easiest players to learn the game from. He wasn't too fancy. He always made the easy play. He was good offensively and defensively. He could throw the body. He was an all-around defenseman that I loved to watch.
He was the complete opposite of Ray, just rushing the puck. I think that was something special. He could score from everywhere. It's hard to believe that he was a defenseman.
Joe was just a leader on and off the ice. From his vision to his quick release, I think he had everything. When Ray Bourque went to Colorado and they won the Stanley Cup together, it was something special. He was so much fun to watch. He played with such passion. You could see it in his eyes. He was a franchise player, so it was easy to look at his game.
Getting compared a lot to Steve, he's one of those players that I remember watching. He's a guy that's similar to Brendan Gallagher. He never stops, just eats the boards and he was always getting his nose dirty. He's one of those guys that if I had to pick who was one of the most enjoyable players to watch, Steve would be in there.
There was just something about him, seeing clips of how he could change a game and how he meant so much to this organization. No bucket. He had the flow going. He was a heck of a hockey player and I was honored to have met him a couple of times and shake his hand. He was a true leader and a true franchise player in Montreal.