Cole Cofield is a good hockey player. Maybe just, maybe he needed the right situation to prove it.
With a goal and assist against Toronto Cofield has eight points in his last six games. Can you guess what changed with the Montreal Canadiens six games ago?
Includes interim coach Martin St. Louis.
If anyone was going to understand the struggle Cofield was going through, it was his scorer. During St. Louis’s 16-year career with the Stanley Cup and over 1,000 points, the story has always been about how he could prove people wrong at a small 5 feet 8. He was never afraid of a single match , and soon became one of the NHL’s best players.
So for him to coach Cofield, the 5-foot-9 scorer in the midst of a tough rookie season, there was a match made in heaven.
Cofield’s season was mixed. The Canadiens sent him to the AHL to play for Laval Rocket after recording just one pass in six 10 games to open the season. Cofield helped Laval set a 3-3 record before being called up and returned to the bottom six.
By mid-November, Cofield’s game had improved slightly, scoring five points in his next eight games, only to capture one assist in the next nine games. So obviously there was still no certainty. But that changed after Martin St. Louis entered the picture. Cofield has scored for Washington in his debut match for the St. Louis club and has now scored in five of his last six games, scoring seven points in that period. On the night of Cofield’s two goals against the St. Louis Blues he played with a high score of 21:04, which was ultimately his best performance of the season.
The time on the ice of Cofield from February 10 at 17:02 is the second among the strikers of Montreal in this interval, and Nick Suzuki sits in first place with 21:28. In Cofield’s case, it’s a big jump from his 14:42 TOI, which put him in 11th place among all Canadiens strikers and ninth among strikers with at least 25 games played this season. This increase was partly due to the COVID-19 cases in Montreal, and Cofield played throughout all departures.
It is clear that St. Louis understands the struggle Cofield has faced in his career, and the talent he brings. Cofield scored 12 points in 20 playoff games as a rookie after winning the Hobby Baker Award as NCAA’s best collegiate player in his sophomore year. Talent? Undoubtedly.
But in January, Cofield was just 21 years old. He is still quite young, and mistakes happen often. Instead of punishing him for these mistakes, St. Louis accepts him because he knows that the positives outweigh the negatives. Let’s not forget that former coach Duchamp last year chose Cofield to start the playoffs despite a good performance at the end of the season with the team. Once he finally got to the full-time lineup, he made it impossible to withdraw.
That seemed to have changed earlier this season, and instead of giving Cofield a chance to grow in the NHL, he sat in the top six on the team that finished 32nd. For a young player this can be demoralizing and it is not very important for development. Cofield is a scorer; he needs to be in a scoring situation, and it’s not like the Canadiens can work with an oversubscription to the crime.
St. Louis appreciates the challenges Cofield has gone through, and knows what talent he brings to the table. Cofield is an incredible shooter, can move the puck well and seems to get along with almost everyone he plays with. He is part of the future of Montreal, and after mistakes with Alex Golchenyuk and Hespery Catcaniemi in recent years, the Canadiens can not spoil the case.
It’s almost like the Canadiens hired St. Louis specifically to deal with Cofield – a smaller player who had a promising career before becoming a professional, only to struggle with all his might. Although St. Louis was good, it took him about five years to become the player who later brought him to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Cofield refers to St. Louis as an influence on his game, so if he wants to listen and learn from someone, it’s a player who has done the same things as one of the league’s youngest scorers.
Cole Cofield found his form with Martin St. Louis
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