There is a worse place than San Diego as a city in the American League. The beach, the sun, the sand, the immense Balboa park, where there is a zoo, as well as the most attractive architecture. A more charming setting than cities like Syracuse or Belleville.
But for Maxime Comtois, it is not the popular destination for the 2020-2021 season.
At 21 and on the cusp of his second full season with professionals, the forward has bigger aspirations.
“I don’t plan to play in San Diego this year. It is not in my objectives, said Comtois in a generous telephone interview granted Wednesday to the Newspaper. But if I ever had to spend time with the Gulls, it would give me more motivation to get back to the Ducks even faster. “
There is certainty for the next season. The choice of 2e The Ducks’ tour in 2017 will remain in California, whether in Anaheim or San Diego.
Last year, Comtois walked between the two cities. He played 29 games with the Ducks and 31 games with the San Diego Gulls.
“I had a pretty good season, but I lacked consistency in the NHL,” he admitted. That’s what hurt me and that’s the reason I was fired by the Ducks in the American League in San Diego.
“From February they told me I was to stay there for the rest of the year. I felt a click. I started playing well again. I had a good conversation with our coach in San Diego, Kevin Dineen. He gave me confidence. I had become again the player I was when I was in the QMJHL in Drummondville and the player I was at the start of the season when I was 19 in Anaheim. “
Comtois kept in mind the main lines of the message from Dineen, the former Hartford Whalers.
“It was mainly a speech to remind me not to change my style of play, to keep my own identity. Kevin insisted a lot on the importance of consistency. I will need to be turned on in every game, every practice. I can separate myself from other players through my physical game. Yes, I’m a good scorer and I can create space for my teammates with a good forward check, but I also have to use my shoulders and my template. Physical play is part of my identity. He reassured me with his words.
“At Maxime’s age and with such a large toolbox, a dismissal in the American League is simply part of the learning process,” Dineen said, in an interview with the Newspaper. In my eyes, Max will have a long career in the NHL and he will be very successful. I sincerely believe it. I wanted to calm him down by talking to him and telling him to use his time in San Diego to have fun and improve. “
Too much pressure
At 19, Comtois had started the season in Anaheim, participating in 10 meetings. He also wore the captain’s “C” with the Canadian team at the World Junior Championships in Vancouver. In Drummondville, the 6ft 2in, 215lb winger had 48 points (31 goals, 17 assists) in just 25 games. It was a pace of almost two points per game.
So for his professional debut, there were high expectations. Probably too big.
“I think so, the pressure hurt me a bit,” replied Comtois. I wanted so much to have a good season. I had just lived through two very busy seasons with two appearances at the World Juniors. I didn’t have a lot of time to relax and focus on myself.
“But I think this experience last year will help me on the mental side. I have achieved several things. I am working hard, I have a big flame burning in me and I am looking forward to the new season. “
Dislodge an older one
The Ducks will bet on a very young team this year. Dallas Eakins and Bob Murray will want to build with a talented youngster like Comtois, but also with Sam Steel, Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras and later Jamie Drysdale.
Even if he knows that he is part of the team’s future plans, the Quebecer keeps a realistic approach.
“I don’t see myself with the team right now,” he said. There are guys before me. I will have to fight for my job. I will have this mentality when I arrive at the Ducks camp. There are several forwards in Anaheim, I will need to dislodge a veteran to get my spot. It’s my aim. But I remain realistic. I will need to push really hard and know a big camp. ”
On the left wing, the Ducks count on the services of Rickard Rakell, Sonny Milano, Max Jones and Nicolas Deslauriers.
Comtois last season had 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in 29 games with the Ducks and he had 24 points (9 goals, 15 assists) in 31 games with the Gulls.