MONTREAL | Rafaël Harvey-Pinard was at the top of the Laval Rocket in scoring with 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists) in 64 games. The combative left winger also shared the lead with defender Tory Dello in plus and minus at +28.
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Despite the race for a place in the Rocket playoffs in the American League, Kent Hughes logically looked in the direction of Harvey-Pinard to obtain reinforcements with the Canadian.
With the injury to Paul Byron, possibly in the right leg, the CH needed a winger for the next matches on the calendar. And number 49 won’t have to wait long before donning the Habs jersey. Martin St-Louis has confirmed his presence in the formation against the Flyers.
It will therefore be a first game on the Bell Center ice. During his first stay in the NHL, he had played three games on opposing rinks, either at Tampa in Raleigh and at Sunrise.
“It’s a nice bonus, I’m really excited to be here,” said Harvey-Pinard with a huge smile on his face. I will give it my all. I’m going to want to show the organization what I can do. »
St-Louis will have the opportunity to discover the man often compared to a young Brendan Gallagher.
The player, not the choice
Asked if he could see himself in the mold of a player like Harvey-Pinard, a modest 7th round pick (201st) in the 2019 draft, St-Louis offered a most interesting answer.
“You can get drafted any turn, or you can’t get drafted. Me, it’s can you play hockey? I don’t care where you were picked up from. Me, that’s what I want to see. I’m not judging him because he’s a 7th round pick. Corey Schueneman was never drafted. I judge the hockey player. That’s what’s important. You can be a first-round pick, but when you get to 23 or 24, you have to be able to show that you can play hockey. I’m judging the player, not where he was in the draft. »
In his first three NHL games between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Harvey-Pinard had scored a goal on his debut against the Lightning, but he had also played to his strengths with great fighting spirit. However, it was at a time when the CH had a long list of players injured or suffering from Covid-19.
“It’s going to be different,” he agreed. During the holidays, we had almost the entire Laval team here. The difference will be to rub shoulders with more NHL guys, ask them questions, talk to them. I lived my first match, it was special, but this will be different. »
In his second full season with the Rocket, Harvey-Pinard stepped up his game to become a key part of Jean-François Houle’s team. He’s quite possibly the Rocket’s most valuable player this season.
“Since the holidays, I’ve been happy with my consistency,” said the 23-year-old winger. Game after game, I made the difference with the Rocket. There is one important word: constancy. I was not happy with my start to the season, but I got back on my feet. »
“You often want to be on the score sheet. You want to contribute to the team’s goals. But I realized that I don’t have to change my identity. I spoke about it with Jean-François (Houle). Even if the points did not come, I should not change my way of playing. I wasn’t playing badly, it didn’t want to go in, I lacked confidence. I kept the same identity and it unlocked. »
After ten games this season in Laval, the player from Arvida had only three points (1 goal, 2 assists) on his record. He’s stepped on the accelerator since January with 37 points (14 goals, 23 assists) in his last 40 games.
Harvey-Pinard will not have the opportunity to play in front of his parents for his first meeting at the Bell Centre. His mother, Johanne Harvey, will be on her last day, Thursday, for service to accident victims at the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, a job she had held since 1989.
But the parents of number 49, Marc Pinard and Johanne, will have time to recover. Fiston should have quite a long career in Montreal.