Photo by John Russell
Perreault leads the NHL in face-off win percentage this season, capturing 62.5 percent of his draws. He has been the league's best face-off man for the past five seasons.
Head coach Barry Trotz has repeatedly said that Yanic Perreault is one of the best stories of the season for the Predators. The 12-year NHL veteran came into Nashville's training camp on a try-out basis in September and earned a spot on the team. Perenially the best face-off man in the league, Perreault has also been one of the Predators' most consistent offensive contributors with numbers that currently rank him second on the team in goals and third in points. The 5'11", 185-pound French-Canadian hailing from Sherbrooke, Quebec, had played with the Los Angeles Kings, the Toronto Maple Leafs and, most recently, the Montreal Canadiens before coming to Nashville. Perreault, 34, has quickly settled into his new environment, making the most of his time with the Predators and enjoying having his wife and four kids with him in Music City.
Q: What are your thoughts on the first half of the season, both personally and from a team standpoint?
A: It's been great so far. I think the team has been doing well so far this year. When I came into training camp I didn't know what to expect, but the team's been really fair to me. They've given me a chance to play. My goal is to show them I can still play and do well in this league. That's what I'm trying to do.
Q: How do the hockey environments compare between Montreal and Nashville? Did you experience any culture shock making the transition?
A: It's different because you don't have as many reporters and media to deal with every day. Looking at the fans here so far, I've been surprised that the fans are really excited and really loud and they're coming to the games. It's been great. They've been great. Sometimes you hear different stuff about Nashville, but I think the fans are supporting this team a lot.
Q: What generalities do you hear about Nashville?
A: The people at first were saying, "Why is there a team in Nashville?" But when you come here and you see the fans and the excitement, my question would be, "Why would there not be a team in Nashville?" It's a great place to play. The fans are great. They've been supportive.
Q: Do you enjoy having less media around compared to Montreal? Does that offer you a bit of a breather as a player?
A: A little bit. But you still have pressure every day to do your job and perform. I think it's been great for my family to come down here, and give my children a chance to go to school in English, learn English a little bit more. So it's been a great experience. With this team also, this is a young team that is getting better every year. We're having a good season, so it's a lot more fun when you're part of a winning team for sure.
Q: Have you adjusted well to Nashville?
A: I love the city. Like I said, the fans have been great to me. The organization gave me a real fair chance and they've been really good to me. Hopefully I'll be here for many more years.
Q: So you coming to join the Predators seems like a real win-win situation for both sides?
A: Now I'm trying to do all the little stuff they saw me do in the past. I try to be strong on face-offs, create some good things offensively and be reliable in my own end. I'm trying to show that I can still do it. Just because of the lockout year, they wanted to see--even if I skated a lot, they wanted to see what I looked like during training camp, which was normal. By coming here, I knew they had an interest, and if I was doing well they would give me a chance. That's what they've been doing so far.
Q: On a points-per-game basis, your offensive production is the second-highest it has been in your career. Why do you suppose that's so? The new rules?
A: I think the new rules give you a little more offensively. There's not as much hooking and holding. Also I think we get more power plays every game. Before that, some games you'd get maybe one, two power plays in the whole game. That's a big difference.
Q: You've already surpassed your numbers from last season--
A: Well, the last season in Montreal I didn't play very much. They played me more on the fourth line, and when guys were injured, they would use me. Their plan was to go with younger players. They told me early on. So it didn't matter how I was playing. They wanted to go with younger players. That's why my numbers weren't as good. Actually, I was a little bit surprised because when you're playing the fourth line, it's good to get pretty good numbers. Every team has different visions, so you've got to respect that. This year [the Predators organization] gave me a very fair chance to play and play on a good offensive line also.
Q: So is this season a little bit of a rebirth?
A: If you look at my last five years, I've been doing the same things pretty much. Last year in Montreal didn't help me because the team didn't see me playing as much as I wanted to. There's not much you can do, except that when you're on the ice you do your best. Especially with the lockout year and the last year in Montreal, this year gives me a chance to show everybody that I can still play in the league.
Q: You are the only skater on the team using wooden sticks. Why?
A: I'm used to it. It's a different feel. I've been trying, the last couple years, one-piece sticks, and I think I've had trouble adjusting because there's a lot of weight in my blade on my wood stick. When you're using a one-piece, it's light everywhere. So you don't have the same feel in your blade. That's probably why I have trouble. And I think the puck bounces more off the blades compared to a wood stick where it kind of absorbs the puck a little bit more and stays more on your blade.
Q: Do face-offs play a role in your decision to use wood sticks?
A: Well, I'm glad because I don't break them very often. That's one of the differences between my stick and a one-piece. You won't see my stick break on face-offs.
Q: Why do you think you're so successful on face-offs?
A: I think it's an area that you can get better every year in. I mean, I'm trying not to be predictable. That's probably one of my strengths. I can win face-offs different ways. Every year it's a challenge, because you get more players on the ice taking face-offs. Now you'll see on every line sometimes you've got two guys that take face-offs. One on the one side and one on the other side. So it's getting harder every year. But I'm still trying to do the little things that I was doing the last few years and stay on top of the face-offs for sure.
Q: Why do you wear the number 94?
A: I always had 44 in my previous years, because my birthday is the fourth of April, so fourth of the fourth month. But when I came to Montreal it was taken. So I wanted to keep a four, and I was thinking about two great players--number 9 was the "Rocket" [Maurice Richard] in Montreal and the number 4 was Jean Beliveau, so I said those are two of the great players that were in Montreal. I thought it'd bring me luck maybe if I wear those numbers. And then when I came here to Nashville, 44 was taken, so I kept the same number.