On Monday night, Louis Leblanc was at the Copps Coliseum when he received a phone call from Pierre Gauthier that changed his life. Two years after being drafted by the Canadiens 18th overall, the Kirkland native was finally getting the chance to play for his hometown team.
Hearing Leblanc’s parents were having a hard time finding last-minute flights out to Anaheim to see their son make his big debut in person, one of the rookie winger’s new teammates sprung into action.
“My parents weren’t here tonight but they were there in Anaheim. Erik Cole actually flew them out here so they could be there for my first game which was a really nice gesture on his part,” shared Leblanc. “They absolutely loved it. That’s definitely a moment I’ll never forget.”
After playing just 7:42 against the Ducks, Leblanc saw his ice time nearly double the next night in San Jose. Feeling more and more comfortable with each game, the 20-year-old forward hit another career milestone on Saturday afternoon.
“It felt great to get my first point today,” shared Leblanc, who started off a highlight-reel give-and-go play to help set up the eventual game winner. “Things went really well for us tonight. Eller made a nice play to Andrei and Andrei finished it off with a great shot. They’re both such talented players. It’s really fun getting to play with them.”
Called up to fill in for Max Pacioretty during his three-game suspension, Leblanc took off for Montreal with the Habs after the 2-1 win in Los Angeles. He just isn’t sure yet if he’ll be boarding a bus to Hamilton when he arrives.
“We’ll see what happens in the next few days, but that’s out of my control,” he mentioned. “I think I played well in these three games so hopefully I’ll still be in Montreal on Monday. I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived here. I didn’t even know if I was going to get to play.”
There’s a key critic behind the bench who agrees with Leblanc’s assessment of his short stint with the Habs so far.
“I like what he brings and I like his work ethic,” confirmed head coach Jacques Martin. “He’s a direct player and he plays well without the puck. He’s a solid player at both ends of the ice.”
Leblanc is hoping he’ll get to continue proving that to his new coach for at least a few more days.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Gone in 86 seconds