Count John Tortorella among the supporters of new Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Martin St. Louis.
Tortorella, who sits 12th all-time with 1,383 career games as an NHL head coach, told The Athletic Wednesday he believes his former player will excel in Montreal.
“I think this is a great fit - where the team is and Marty is,” Tortorella said. “He’s just starting his career, and it’s going to be a rebuild there. I think they can all grow together. He has such a great hockey mind.
“He’s going to love it. They’re going to love him. And they’ll get it done.”
St. Louis was hired Wednesday just hours after the team fired head coach Dominique Ducharme after an 8-30-7 start to the season. It marked the second straight year the Canadiens have made an in-season coaching change.
The decision to hire the 46-year-old came as a surprise to some given his only professional coaching experience since retiring as a player in 2015 came during a brief stint as a special teams consultant with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019.
Tortorella, who hired St. Louis in that role, said he believes the Laval, Que. native will be able to excel off his feel for the game.
“He’s solid with the Xs and Os,” Tortorella said. “The biggest thing for him is to see what he has; see how much information he should give at certain times. He’s got to read his team. A big part of coaching is how much information you give your team. How can you give them and they still can play free. This is where his biggest strength is going to be. Coaching in the National Hockey League, the Xs and Os are important, but the feel and mindset of your team is more important. What the players have mentally, what they can handle on certain days in a season is where Marty is going to be strong.
“He’s gone through so many different circumstances. He was almost booted out of the league, sent to the minors, then went on to win the Hart Trophy, Stanley Cup, now is in the Hall of Fame. He’s run through the whole gamut, and he’ll be able to feel where his individual players are and what he can give them.”
St. Louis, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, will make his debut behind the bench with the Canadiens on Thursday against the Washington Capitals.