"The first two weeks I was looking at him like, 'Oh, Patrick Roy.' But after that, I can talk to him like I'm talking to you right now. Not impressed, he's just my coach."
-- David Gilbert
Playing big-time hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at 16 can be intimidating for any player. But when your coach is a four-time Stanley Cup winner, Hockey Hall of Famer and on the short list for greatest goaltenders of all time, the adjustment can be that much harder.
That was the situation facing David Gilbert
when the center joined the Quebec Remparts for the 2007-08 season. The Remparts are coached by Patrick Roy
, who also serves as general manager and co-owner.
Gilbert got over his initial nerves and turned in two successful seasons in Quebec, and earned himself the No. 74 rating by NHL Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American skaters for the 2009 Entry Draft.
"When I came to Quebec, first thing when I came there, I thought, 'I'm going to get coached by Patrick Roy
,'" Gilbert told NHL.com. "I was looking at him as the Hall of Famer, the big goaltender, but after a few weeks, he was my coach.
"The first two weeks I was looking at him like, 'Oh, Patrick Roy
.' But after that, I can talk to him like I'm talking to you right now. Not impressed, he's just my coach."
Roy told NHL.com that he goes through that process with most of his players. They all grew up watching him -- or highlights of him -- playing 19 spectacular seasons with the Montreal Canadiens
and Colorado Avalanche
"At first it's a bit of an excitement," he said, "but after a bit the players start to see me more and get to know me more and realize I'm no different -- just coach."
In his role as coach, Roy said he's liked what he's seen from the 6-foot-2, 176-pound center.
"He's a good skater, he's got some good speed, he's got good hands," Roy said. "He's not a bad playmaker, he passes the puck very well."
Roy also said Gilbert has added a bit of a physical element to his game.
"It's never going to be his No. 1 tool," said Roy. "He's getting more and more in the shooting lanes, he's getting to the net, getting the puck out of the zone, getting better at reading these things. That's what we're working a lot on."
Roy also said he and his staff are working on getting Gilbert to shoot more often. Gilbert had 11 goals this season, up from the 7 he had as a rookie.
"His shot is OK, but he didn't shoot with the confidence that he could," Roy said. "The reason is he missed a lot of good chances early in the season and that affected his confidence regarding shooting."
Roy is positive that will come, as he believes Gilbert has a high hockey IQ.
"The No. 1 quality is to shoot when it's time and pass when it's time," he said. "I think he's got that, there's no doubt. At the same time, a lot of it is about confidence. We're going to work on his confidence."
Gilbert said he's confident in his game at both ends of the ice. He had 32 assists and 43 points, tied for eighth on the team. While mostly known as an offensive player, Gilbert said he patterns his game after Detroit Red Wings
star Henrik Zetterberg
"I'm very offensive, but I also can play well on defense," he said. "I want to be as complete a player as possible. I look at a guy like Zetterberg, he's a model for me. He plays well at both ends. I think I'm on the right track to play the same game as he's doing.
"He's a calm guy. He plays well at both ends. He's calm on the ice, he's a good teammate. I like that kind of guy. That's the kind of player I want to become."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.