Hey Wild fans! Last week, The french sports show L'Antichambre on RDS, TSN's french twin, had invited our very own Guillaume Latendresse. The guys at RDS know Guillaume Latendresse very well because of his time with the Canadiens, so they all talked for about a half hour. Being the good guy that I am, I've decided to translate the whole thing for you, because it's a very interesting half hour and it means a lot to me to have the power to share it with you all.
A lot of raw and honest stuff has been said and I think it's a great way to get to know Latendresse a little better. The show can be watched on http://ac.rds.ca and it's the June 1st version. What I have for you right now is part 1, and I'll explain why: They divided the show in many parts, and seeing as the translation turned out to be very lengthy, I decided to go by parts as well to not make the reading too heavy. This is the translation of the video titled: L'Antichambre ouvre ses portes à Guillaume Latendresse
So if you want to watch or listen to it and read it at the same time, go right ahead and enjoy! I've inserted some of my thoughts between parentheses, they aren't part of the interview, they're just side notes by me. I IMPLORE you to read and/or watch the whole thing to capture the full Latendresse experience. Keep in mind though that this is simply a rough translation made by me, I made it so it's as easy as possible to understand, it's not perfect, but it gets the job done.
Without further delay, I ask you to make the jump for a great talk between Lats and the guys at AC, you won't be sorry!.
Part 1: L'antichambre ouvre ses portes à Guillaume Latendresse
AC: L'Antichambre is proud to welcome Guillaume Latendresse, good evening Guillaume.
Lats : Good evening
AC : Thank you very much for being with us
Lats : It's a pleasure
AC : You heard our conversation earlier about pressure, did the pressure of the QJMHL (Quebec junior major hockey league) prepare you for the NHL?
Lats : Well, it's never at the same level than it can be with the Canadiens, but I think I've lived a little bit of what it could be, just by being at the arenas on the road, like for example Victoriaville or Chicoutimi, I remember that people would yell "Gui! Gui! Gui!" just to taunt me when I got a penalty or something, the opposite of Montréal (can't make out what he's saying after that, but it's not really important) that's for sure! When you're 16, 17 years old, it can play with your head.
AC : At your first training camp with the Canadiens, they also yelled " Gui! Gui! Gui! " They wanted to keep you in Montreal. (Side note: Guy Lafleur, Habs legend, was also cheered Gui! Gui! Gui!... They were hoping G-Lat was the next one)
Lats: Yeah, the fans loved me in the beginning, it... started well (Notice the tone when he says that!)
AC : You had a great training camp
Lats : Yeah, it went really well, I had performed well and I think at that time as an 18 year old, it was a wise decision to go back down (He played another year in junior before coming up with the big club, which is why AC said ‘'they wanted to keep you in Montreal''... He never played in the AHL though)
AC : Did you feel like you were ready at 18 to play for the Canadiens?
Lats : Not at 18. You ask me today and... during the camp, I was actually hoping to be sent down, because you know at 18, I still wanted to live the bus trips with the young boys, 16,17,18,19,20 years old, so you know I wasn't ready to be in an adult's league, with guys in their 25's, 30's, I wasn't ready to make the jump at 18.
AC : By not ready, do you mean physically or mentally, because you still had things to live, like the end of your adolescence ?
Lats : Exactly. I think if you compare 18 and 19 years old, I think at 19, I was mentally ready, uhhh... I had a season at 18 that I could've made the jump that I used to prepare myself, physically and mentally and then I moved on from junior hockey at 19,
AC : Was it Montreal? Because the media... I'm not saying they were for or against you, but the aspect of the media, you know when you went to exhibition games and they yelled "Gui! Gui! Gui!". If you would've been elsewhere, do you think at 18 you would've been mentally ready to play in the NHL?
Lats: Maybe... maybe. It certainly went fast, and I think that even today when I look back at the things I've been through, when I was there at that time, maybe I wasn't realizing the magnitude of it all, because at 18, I don't think, coming from Montreal, that it's easy to keep a cool head. (He's not actually from Montreal, but very close, so he was still considered a hometown boy.)
- - So you agreed to being sent down at 18. What about at 19, because I remember I was pretty lonely in my group, and I wondered if it wouldn't have been better, considering what Montreal represents, to have another year in junior to really dominate and then make the jump as more of a man.
- - I was in the other group
- - You were in the other group, I remember!
- - We were many in there
- - Yeah you were many, and that's normal and it always takes a black sheep, and I have a tendency towards that, but honestly, at 19, you felt mentally ready?
Lats : Yeah, I think I didn't have the right attitude to go back at 19, because as I said earlier, I had moved on and I might not have been the kind of player it took to better myself at that point, maybe I didn't have the mentality or the maturity to go back to junior at 19, but to be taken under the wing of Kirk Muller, Guy Carbonneau, maybe that's what helped me at 19, but the only thing, when I look back, I think having a guy like Guy Boucher would have helped me because when I left at 19, he arrived (Yes, the same Guy Boucher who just got a coaching job in Tampa Bay. He became the coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, Lats' junior team, the same year Lats' cracked the habs' lineup.) That's the only way I think returning to junior at 19 could've brought me something.
AC : He would've been your coach?
Lats : Yes
- - Yes because he didn't play for Guy, he played for Dominic Ricard who is now their GM. I remember, just a side note, when Patrice Bergeron made it to the NHL at 18, he played the whole year at 18, the next year was the lockout and Patrice participated in the World Junior Championship with Sidney Crosby, and I'll be honest with you, Bergeron played for Bathurst (WHOOO! Go Titans! The Acadie-Bathurst Titans are 40 minutes from where I live. It's where Louuuuuuuuu played his junior hockey and he and Luc Bourdon, from Shippagan, 30 minutes away from my home, are the only two NHLers I've seen in action before my eyes, but I didn't get to see Bergeron... two Canucks... what are the odds?...I got sidetracked there!) So I didn't see much of him in junior, even if we cover junior, we don't see much of Bathurst, and Patrice always said, and I think you'll agree: "It felt good to play the championship with guys of MY age." He said: "With the Boston Bruins, it's been one year of hearing about mortgages (NHLers with mortgages? Really? Huh... guess I'm still too young to understand it), kids and stuff like that" He was 18 at that time,
- - You don't want to hear about that stuff
- - Exactly, so that's what Guillaume is saying, when he went back to junior at 18, it was probably better in that respect
- - Because every one of us at 18, 19, mortgages, phtt!
Lats : It's such a radical change, you go from the junior salary to a completely different salary, guys showing you pictures of their kids, you know? You're not there yet at 19, you don't have the mentality to be talking about that stuff
- - Do you think, for the majority of players, that 18 is too early to be in the NHL? It used to be you got drafted at 20 years old
- - It must be different if you come into a young team, like the Blackhawks or the Penguins where you hear that players stay at the arena after practice and they have to kick them out after a while because they're just there playing ‘'GAMES''. Men don't do that
Lats : When I entered the league, I had guys like Sheldon Souray, Craig Rivet, Saku, all great guys, but they're older and more mature, so it's hard to get into a group of people like that when you're 18, for a young guy to get in there and hang out with these guys, it's a bit hard.
AC : I think it depends on the case. You've got guys who charge in and aren't intimidated by the veterans, and others, as soon as they will see a veteran, whoop! For example, some rookies would go on a 2-on-1 with a veteran and they wouldn't DARE shoot it, otherwise the veteran would look at them funny
Lats : It's still like that, seriously, when I go on a 2-on-1 with Martin Havlat, I've gotta give it to him! (hahaha!) If he's gonna give it back, he'll give it back! (He's not saying Marty's forcing him to pass, he's saying he wouldn't dare think about shooting it when Marty's with him!)
AC : You'll always have to pass it! Hahaha!
Lats : Yeah, I'm still living it haha!
AC : You've lived through some rough times in the beginning, it took you about a year or two to admit that the bodycheck you gave Rob Dimaio, which actually ended his career (I did not know this...), actually hurt you as much as it hurt him, in terms of concentration and the physical aspect you were asked to bring to your game, and this is what I've been saying earlier, were you prepared, at 19, physically yes, but to face this kind of thing... seeing the clip, it didn't seem like such a violent check, it was a legal check, sadly, his head got the brunt of the impact, but you were in a situation where you had something to prove as a hockey player and also because of your size, body checks and everyone cheering " Gui! Gui! Gui!" and this is what put me on the defensive and I said to myself: "Whoa, they're asking way too much of this guy at 19"
Lats : Yeah, you know you got to know me throughout the years, I'm not a violent guy who plays to injure, I think it's still just a game and yeah that check had an effect on me and I still live with it, even today, when I go to finish a check and I see that the guy's in a precarious position, I just shy away from the hit, I turn and skate away, because sure the two points are important and the victory's worth it, but we all have our health, our families and our lives off the ice, and Rob Dimaio could've been worse off from that hit than he is right now. Also, having the league give me a warning at 19 because of that hit, you know...
- - But that's not really your style of play anyway, did they force you to be more physical in your time in Montreal? Because you're a good sized player...
- - Plus, with that check on Dimaio, it kind of gave him a label.
- - Exactly, and it was undeserved.
Lats : That's it, and especially since, Stephane knows me from junior hockey, yes I finished my checks but... you know, the people who see me play in Minnesota right now, I'm the same player I was at 18 with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, it's the style of play they've asked me to play, they don't ask me to get 20 hits per game, I'm free to play offensively
- - What bums me out is that Montreal drafted a scorer, they drafted a guy who scored 45 goals in 51 games (WRONG, it's 43 in 51, with 40 assists, but who's counting?) at 18 in junior who could've maybe scored 60, 65 had he returned at 19 and, I've always said, they never put him in that situation in Montreal (Totally agree, I've always said that too), and IN SPITE OF THAT, in spite of playing on the 3rd and 4th line, could you show us my chart?
- - Yes, certainly!
- - Let's take a look at my chart, because earlier on my headline (They have this thing on AC where they each show a headline they've made for the show, and they talk about it. They did it earlier on the show, but I didn't think it was very important, they talk about them again right here), I was saying that he was one of Trevor Timmins (Scout) best choices. Look at the best players from the 2005 draft class, with the rank in which they've been chosen (PJ = games played, B= goals), Of course Sidney Crosby is evidently number one here, we won't debate on that, but Guillaume was picked 45th, yet he has the fifth highest point total of the 2005 draft class
- - The Canadiens had actually moved up at the draft to get Latendresse
- - Exactly, but they never put him in a winning situation and he still performed this well. When I say winning situation, of course we could debate about it till tomorrow morning, but as I said, 3rd-4th line most of the time and he still succeded in scoring his fair share of goals (an average of about 15 a year to be exact. Not too bad for a guy who often played 6-7 minutes a night)
- - How did you live that ?
Lats :... Live what? (Hahaha!)
AC : Hahaha! I imagine that you felt it at some point, that you thought "You have to put me in a situation where I can do what I'm best at and that's scoring goals" right?
Lats : Well let's just say that on some nights, I would watch some sports shows in which I wanted to phone in and give them a piece of my mind!
AC : But I gave you the number, why didn't you call? Hahaha
Lats : Yeah, well! Haha... It's not always a good thing to do, you know, on some nights, I would get mad, but at the same time I think it's a part of my learning process, and if I'm the player I am today, it's surely thanks to what I've been through before.
- - You had a good relationship with Carbo (Guy Carbonneau, who coached Lats in MTL) and what I'm trying to understand, to add to what Stephane was saying, is that they drafted you because you were a scorer, and 6 foot 4 scorers, there aren't hundreds of them in the league, so (Lats is actually 6'2)... what bothered me about what I was hearing, you know, ‘'It takes a big guy in front of the net'', ‘'He doesn't finish his hits'', ‘'He's as slow as a turtle''... After awhile, didn't ANYONE tell you: " Guillaume, here's what's expected of you" ? Didn't you have an ally in that organization, apart from Guy (Carbonneau)? You know, like an assistant coach, assistant manager...?
- - A scout or something?
- - Did anyone ever approach you and say: " Here's what you gotta do"? Because I was under the impression you were playing hockey to please the coaches, like ‘'Am I doing OK?'', ‘'Should I hit''?
Lats : Well yeah, that's what it was, and the guys kind of poked fun at me for it, like sometimes, I would backcheck and look towards the bench to see if I was doing OK and they'd be like ‘'Yeah, that's good, go on!'' haha, that's not the game, you just play and you use your talents, but if that's not your talent, then you're at the wrong place, you know?
- - There's a problem with Guillaume Latendresse...(He gets interrupted, something that happens all the time on the show!)
- - If you had gone back at 19 and you would have done what Stephane said, 65,67 goals, a 145-point season, your role would have been clearer, and when you arrived at 19, there was still some distortion in all of that
- - That's what I've been trying to say Francois, if you look at his play in Minnesota or even Drummondville, he doesn't play to hit, but when he does hit, not one of them doesn't hurt! In Minnesota, in Minnesota (Again, interrupted, it always seemed to be him in that particular episode), he creamed a guy along the boards, and the boards had been bent, they filmed it... (He's referring to G-Lats' hit on Jamal Mayers against Calgary, if you haven't seen it yet, GO RIGHT NOW! What's wrong with you? ;)...Seriously, it's awesome... It's also the photo at the begninning of the post)
- - Yeah, but I don't give a rat's ass about Minnesota (GRRRRRR...) The Canadiens had him in Montreal and they squandered him, wasted him because they didn't know what they wanted from him
- - I know, but how come in Minnesota, they saw it differently? (Simple, because we rule!)
- - Well...Because he evolved (BULL, he just doesn't want to say that MTL's management and coaching were stupid in the way they handled Latendresse), they play him differently, and I believe, I may be wrong, the guy that was behind the transaction was Blair MacKasey (Our director of professional scouting), who sees about everything that goes around in the Quebec Junior Hockey League, and who might've had a better vision of what Guillaume Latendresse could bring than the people working for the Canadiens
- - Gui, what do you think?
Lats : I agree! But I think the best matches for me were the Canada-Russia junior series, some superb matches right there and the Canadiens brass were there and it could've had an influence on them drafting me, they had put me in winning situations with talented players and I had 5 goals, 2 assists in two games, I played with Derrick Brassard and my brother (Olivier) at centre, I played in winning situations, so...
- - What bums me out, and I'll say this forever, is that the Canadiens took this guy in at 19 with the mindset that at 25, he would score 30, 35 goals a year, and now look what they did.
- - Earlier, in my headline, I was saying that he had fallen victim to many injustices, but one in particular: The year of Alex Tanguay. Chris Higgins was in bad shape, got injured in the first games, or at camp, and they put Guillaume Latendresse in his spot with Tanguay and Koivu. If I remember correctly, these guys were on fire, among the top scorers in the league and (pointing to Latendresse) he got the job done. The moment Higgins was ready, Latendresse was cast aside, and this for me was a major injustice and afterwards, Tanguay and Koivu's numbers took a big nosedive and they never put Latendresse back on that line
Lats : I think that was the hardest part for me in Montreal, you play a good match, you get confident, but once you make a mistake, they put you on the fourth line
AC : And you actually felt this?
Lats : Yeah, but you don't wanna show it or involve others in it, because you're part of a team, and well I loved Chris (Higgins) and I understand that's how it is, but maybe if they let me have 5 or 6 more matches, I would've had a rough few games, but that's part of the game, you can't play your 82 matches at a high level and...
- - So you always played with this tension... other than the game, you must've been thinking: " I absolutely have to have a good match or else I'm gone!"
- - About that, I have a bit of a dull question, but what's the part of responsibility of Guillaume Latendresse?
Lats : Well of course, I have some. Some nights, I would come to play and well like it or not it's always hard to present yourself at the game when you have no confidence, when you're really underneath the floor and you think to yourself "Well, now I'm on the second line, but for how long?" When you start with that mindset, you certainly won't get the results you're looking for.
- - When training camp began, OK? We're going back to September... I remember you met Jacques Martin (Current head coach of the Habs) last summer, uhh... There was Gomez, there was Cammalleri, there was Gionta, and there was a spot for Guillaume Latendresse in the first two trios, and I remember we talked about it often, that was the plan and it was yours to grab, to keep and to hold on tight, and I'm under the impression it slipped from your fingers.
- - Well they played him one match, he didn't get any points, so they switched the lines!
Lats : That's what they told me, that they were going to put me with Gionta and Gomez (Pouliot's current spot... ), this was the plan to begin training camp, they told me to win my spot, and when it was all said and done, training camp was done, I had played one game and they put me with Plecky (Plekanec) and Brian (Gionta, which constituted the second line at the time), so I don't think they gave me much of a shot
- - So in the Canadiens organization, you need to win your spot quickly or else you're gonna get relegated!
- - And how many chances did Max Pacioretty get? (How about Pouliot? In his 30 something last games, he had 1 goal, and he played with Gomez and Gionta for nearly the whole time...)
- - Are you ready for the Q&A Guillaume?
Lats : Yeah
AC : So Q&A with Guillaume Latendresse, after the break...
...And that was part 1. A lot of interesting things have been said already, and I still have part 2 and 3 to share with you. Thoughts?
Source: RDS. Thank you very much RDS. Merci beaucoup RDS!