Robidas: 'It's about building relationships'
Stephane Robidas is eager to help the Canadiens' young defensemen develop and thriveby Montreal Canadiens @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com
MONTREAL -- Newly appointed assistant coach Stephane Robidas met the media via Zoom on Thursday.
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Here are a few highlights from his press conference:
Robidas on his coaching philosophy matching that of head coach Martin St-Louis and team brass:
My role will primarily be to develop the Canadiens' young defensemen. I know there are good veterans on the roster, too. The vision is really to help the young guys. The game has evolved a lot in recent years, and I fit into that change when it comes to puck possession, practice style, and small-area games. I believe in those things, too. It's a perfect match.
Robidas on the changes in his life that come with his new job:
I spent a long time in the NHL. It was 20 years. I entered the League in 2000 and it's 2022. There was only one season during that time that I wasn't associated with the NHL. I saw a lot of things and I had a lot of coaches. I know that the experience will help in my new role with the Canadiens. I played in Montreal and I spent three seasons in the AHL. Not every defenseman is going to have the same path that I did, but it can be an advantage for me. I can put myself in the skin of a young defenseman coming to Montreal who needs to deal with pressure. That doesn't scare me because I know what to expect and how to handle it.
Robidas on his overall mandate:
My mandate is to work with the defensemen. If you look at the roster, there are some very, very good veterans in David Savard, Joel Edmundson, Chris Wideman and Mike Matheson. There's a good core of veterans that can mentor the young guys well. My role will be to work with them and continue to develop them. Martin has always said that you should always look to improve. That was kind of my philosophy as a player, and as a coach it's the same thing. I'm kind of like that in everyday life. I'm not perfect, but I have a good work ethic and a desire to learn. Even the older defensemen in the organization can continue to grow. There's no age limit to learning new things.
Robidas on the importance of veteran defenders mentoring young blueliners:
It's extremely important. I remember when I first came to the Canadiens, it was Eric Weinrich who took me under his wing. To have an established defenseman in the NHL by your side, someone who lets you make mistakes, someone who's patient, someone who supports you, and someone who's on your side, is very reassuring. It was beneficial in my career, and I tried to do the same thing when I became a veteran. As a defensive coach, my job is to combine all of that. We're a team, we work together, and the goal is to get better every day.
Robidas on his core beliefs and coaching style:
I'm calm. I have a passion for the game. I want to get better. I want to help. To me, it's about building relationships with players, because it's not only about the players, it's about the human being, communication, and making them feel comfortable. As a player, to be honest, I didn't feel comfortable in the NHL until I was like 31 years old. My best years were after that time, and that's when I felt like I belonged and I felt comfortable, so the mental aspect of the game and how a player feels about himself in a group and in an environment is very important, and I think that's something I can help with. I can relate to players and how they feel sometimes, so that's how I view myself. You have to treat everybody the same way, but they don't all have the same strengths and they're all different. Not every player reacts the same way to different styles of teaching, so my job will be to evaluate first, and then build that relationship with those guys, earn their respect, and work with them to help them grow their game.
Robidas on taking pride in his new position:
Like I said to Martin, Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton, and I know it sounds cliché, but I was lucky as a Quebecer to be drafted by the Canadiens in 1995. I was lucky enough to play two incredible seasons in Montreal. I grew up in Sherbrooke and my whole family and I were big Canadiens fans. I grew up with the rivalry against the Quebec Nordiques. After I left Montreal, it took me a while to acclimate to Dallas because hockey isn't the same in the United States. It wasn't a hockey market like Montreal. To come back home and work for the Canadiens is a huge honor. I'm really happy and I thank the organization. Thank you to Martin, Kent, Jeff, and Mr. Geoff Molson for their support. It's something I never could've imagined or even dreamed of. I have to pinch myself again today. I'm really happy and really excited, and I can't wait to start.
Robidas on the importance of being a good communicator:
A human being, whether the person is 15, 16, 32, 42 or 62, is a human being. It's important to me to work with the human being first, even before the player. I believe in the concept of relationships, clear communication, and mutual respect. It's important that the player respects his coach, but the opposite is also important. Mutual respect is earned. I will get to know the players that I work with, and I want to build good relationships based on trust and respect.