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Standout student

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Andre Tourigny has fond memories of his time coaching Sven Andrighetto.

For a coach in the junior ranks, seeing one of his players make it to the NHL is a reward in and of itself. When that player stresses the fact that you were the bench boss who really pushed him to reach hockey’s highest level, it’s even more flattering.

When Andrighetto arrived in Rouyn-Noranda to play for the Huskies, he didn’t know much about Tourigny. For his part, though, Tourigny new plenty about his brand new forward.

“We saw him play at the Under-18 World Hockey Championship. We saw him in the preliminary round, but we weren’t entirely convinced. He was exceptional in the next rounds, though,” explained Tourigny, who wasn’t just the Huskies’ coach, but also their general manager between 2002 and 2013. “That’s where we decided to take the steps to go and get him. Back in Canada, we contacted his agent and we came to an agreement. He was the guy we wanted.”

The process to convince Andrighetto to cross the Atlantic wasn’t that complicated because the 18-year-old was pursuing his dream of playing in the NHL. And, by his own admission, it was that move that ultimately enabled him to reach his goal, which wouldn’t necessarily have been possible had he remained in Switzerland.

“His entire life was based on that dream of playing in the NHL. He’s a smart guy. He was analyzing everything that was going on around him. I didn’t have to really help him adapt. He was so hard on himself that sometimes it was a little much,” admitted Tourigny, who had the opportunity to coach Andrighetto for two seasons in Abitibi. “He really wanted to perform and win, so much so that sometimes things could get more and more complicated. He had fire in his eyes and he’d really let it out when things weren’t going the way he wanted them to. He learned to control his emotions since then, though. I liked his approach. He studied a lot and he had an excellent work ethic both on and off the ice.”

All of that work pushed Andrighetto to put up strong numbers with the Huskies. He amassed 172 points in 115 games, which translated into nearly 1.5 points per outing. Upon arrival, it didn’t take Andrighetto long to make his mark, picking up two assists in his very first game with his new team on September 9, 2011.

“His integration into the group went really well. He had to learn the North American style of play because he was used to playing on big ice, but he’s a guy with a lot of grit. He’s a big competitor and that helped him adapt,” recalled Tourigny, who also had Nikita Kucherov in his arsenal with the Huskies back then. “While I was coaching in Rouyn-Noranda, I could easily have placed Sven among the three best players that I had a chance to work with. He had a major impact. We had a team that was in the midst of a rebuild, and he was one of the reasons why it was a brief one. Then, with the addition of Kucherov, they were both a part of my Top 3.”

While Tourigny has since enjoyed stints with the Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators before being hired as the head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, he still stays in close contact with Andrighetto today.

“I write him often. I’m really proud of him. We don’t talk every week, but we stay in touch. He came to Rouyn to make his dreams come true and he made an important impact in the community. In Rouyn, Sven will always be a hero. There’s no doubt about that,” explained Tourigny, who can always count on Andrighetto’s loyalty despite a short stay with his group. “As much as I could help Sven, he did the same for me. That’s the kind of relationship that you want to have with a hockey player. I took care of him, but he also took care of me by performing and playing well. In the last playoff series that we went through together against Halifax, when we were behind by three games, he never stopped working and he battled until the very end.”

Andrighetto still has that same approach as he continues to battle to keep his dream alive and well with the Canadiens.

Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.

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