MONTREAL — Nick Suzuki is the new captain of the Montreal Canadiens.
Coach Martin St-Louis made the announcement Monday morning as part of the team's annual golf tournament at the Laval-sur-le-Lac golf club.
"It's a true honour for me and a privilege. This team's headed in a great direction, and I couldn't be more excited to be the captain and represent the team," Suzuki told reporters.
"It means a lot, just to see the respect the management, teammates, (and) coaches have for me. I know it's a big role, but I think I'm ready for it. There's a bright future here and I'm excited to be a part of it."
At 23, Suzuki becomes the youngest captain in team history.
He succeeds defenceman Shea Weber, who was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in June.
Defenceman Joel Edmundson and forward Brendan Gallagher will serve as alternate captains.
Suzuki, a first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Vegas Golden Knights, he was acquired by the Canadiens along with Tomas Tatar and a draft pick in exchange for Max Pacioretty in 2018.
Playing all 82 games last season, Suzuki led the Canadiens in scoring with 21 goals and 40 assists for 61 points. Those totals were all career highs.
In 209 career games, Suzuki has scored 49 goals and 94 assists for 143 points.
Suzuki has experienced almost every peak and pitfall there is in his three seasons in Montreal.
The Canadiens fell in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs, followed by a run to the Stanley Cup in 2021, where Montreal fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After two years of tasting playoff experience, Suzuki and the Canadiens hit rock bottom finishing last in the Eastern Conference in a 2021-2022 season marred by injury.
"There's been a lot of highs and lows, a lot of learning experiences," said Suzuki. "I think I've got to handle each situation really well, just lead by example again. It's a privilege to have that pressure on you. We want to win hockey games and that's the biggest reason we're here."
New-Look Canadiens to Surprise?
After finishing at the bottom of the NHL standings last season, Suzuki said last month he believes the Montreal Canadiens are ready to surprise their doubters this year.
“I think I’m most excited about kind of proving people wrong,” Suzuki told the Montreal Gazette. “I think people have really put us down. I was actually talking to (Sean) Monahan about our lineup. We’ve got a pretty deep team and I think people are really underestimating us. That’s not a bad thing, either. I think we’re going to surprise people.”
Monahan, acquired earlier this month from the Calgary Flames, is part of a major overhaul for Montreal this off-season, which also saw the club acquire Michael Matheson as part of their return for veteran defenceman Jeff Petry and forward Ryan Poehling.
Additionally, the Canadiens traded defenceman Alexander Romanov at the NHL Draft, acquiring centre Kirby Dach from the Chicago Blackhawks in the process, and moved former captain Weber's contract to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for forward Evgeni Dadonov.
The off-season has also included the Canadiens selecting Juraj Slafkovsky No. 1 overall and general manager Kent Hughes announcing that Carey Price is not expected to play this season.
“Rebuilding, that was last year. We’re ready to take the next step,” Edmundson said at the team's golf tournament on Monday. "We have no excuses not to make playoffs.
"That’s our mindset, making playoffs."