Skip to content

The life of Antoine Morand 5 years later

The two young men who had played their Midget AAA together in Châteauguay, had both just been drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks.

The indiscreet camera of Radio-Canada Sports had captured the moment broadcast in a short documentary devoted to the work of agent Allain Roy during the repechage.

Five years later, the destinies of Maxime Comtois and Antoine Morand are no longer linked so closely. If Comtois has already played 146 NHL games with Anaheim, Morand is still waiting for his chance. He’s even been traded twice in the past 18 months.

If I had been asked the question on the day of the draft, it is clear that I thought that I was going to play games before the end of my entry contract, confides the 60th overall pick of the 2017 draft. I’m 23, I’m still young and it’s not the time to get discouraged and tell myself that it didn’t work. I just have to be patient and accept that a hockey career is also often the result of a combination of circumstances.

Maxime Comtois and Antoine Morand chosen in the 2nd round by the Ducks.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Antoine Deshaies

The Châteauguay-born forward played two successful seasons in the QMJHL after being selected by the Ducks. He won the Memorial Cup with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 2018, before losing in the national tournament final with the Halifax Mooseheads the following year.

In his last two seasons in junior, he averaged more than a point per game.

He had a good first season with the San Diego Gulls of the American League, until the COVID pandemic ended his season.

We had just qualified for the playoffs with two wins against Tucson and our general manager came to tell us that the season was over. My dad had just come to San Diego to watch me play. To this day, my parents have never been able to see me play a professional game there.

In his first professional year, Morand, a rare rookie with the Gulls, was mainly used as an energy player, shorthanded and in tough situations late in the game. A role far from the one he occupied in the junior, where he had much more offensive responsibilities.

I had to change my identity to make my place and I regret it a little, explains Morand. I’m a hard-working guy who can contribute offensively, but at the beginning, I was mainly focused on bringing energy to the team and sending the puck deep in the opposition’s territory so as not to make mistakes.

I had to find a way to play every game and stay in the lineup. I made it, but I was labeled as a 4th line player. I would have liked to play like the player I am to see how far I could have gone.

Antoine Morand of the QMJHL

Photo: QMJHL/Vincent Ethier

This observation, as hard as it is, does not mean that Morand has given up on his dream of reaching the NHL. Still, it was subject to a few detours.

In March 2021, the Ducks traded him to the Lightning, who immediately traded him to the Syracuse Crunch. Morand had 12 points in 19 games. Things took a turn for the worse the following year. For the first time in his career, he was left out on numerous occasions.

Crunch coach Benoît Groulx is ironically the father of a good friend of Morand’s. He and Benoît-Olivier Groulx met at a Ducks organization camp before playing together in Halifax. They are roommates this summer in Montreal for the off-season.

business, Benoît faisait son travail et je ne suis aucunement rancunier, raconte Morand. Il a la réputation d’être vraiment dur et c’est ce qui a fait son succès dans le passé. Je crois que tout arrive pour une raison et ça va m’aider dans le futur, parce que ça ne peut pas être pire.”,”text”:”Le hockey, c’est une business, Benoît faisait son travail et je ne suis aucunement rancunier, raconte Morand. Il a la réputation d’être vraiment dur et c’est ce qui a fait son succès dans le passé. Je crois que tout arrive pour une raison et ça va m’aider dans le futur, parce que ça ne peut pas être pire.”}}”>Hockey is a business, Benoît was doing his job and I have no resentment, says Morand. He has a reputation for being really tough and that’s what made him successful in the past. I believe everything happens for a reason and it will help me in the future, because it can’t get any worse.

The first time he left me behind, I understood that he wanted to send me a message. I started to freak out when my absences multiplied. I didn’t really know what was expected of me and that’s what was hard. I was stressed, I lost confidence in myself and it was getting harder and harder. I knew I could contribute more and help the team, but I was like a dog on a leash who had no freedom and couldn’t do more.

He regained his confidence when he was traded to San Jose.

However, he only played 14 games with the San José Barracuda and the team lost its last 15 games of the season. We will come back for the business card especially since his contract binding him to the San Jose Sharks expires on July 1.

I have the knife between the teeth after the last year, he explains. Things clearly didn’t go the way I wanted.

He hopes to sign a two-way contract with an NHL team, but he may well only have to agree with an American League team. Maybe the Rocket?

Of course I would really like it because it’s a good team and it would be a dream to play at home, but you have to evaluate the options carefully to see which destination is the best for the rest of my career. . It is a decision that goes beyond the heart.

Advice for players who will be drafted

Antoine Morand has not forgotten anything about his draft day in Chicago in 2017. Several members of his family had also made the trip for the occasion. When he returned to Quebec the next day, the extended family had gathered at his grandmother’s house to celebrate.

The repechage remains one of the best days of my life for me and for all those who helped me, recalls Morand. I advise players who will experience it this year in Montreal to take advantage of it as much as possible. Even though I haven’t broken into the NHL yet, I’m super proud to have been drafted.

The Comtois and Morand families at the 2017 NHL Draft

Photo: Radio-Canada / Antoine Deshaies

Being drafted is not synonymous with an automatic ticket to the NHL and it is not new. In 2017, for example, barely 10 players drafted after Morand played 50 games in the Bettman circuit. 100 games? Barely 5.

In fact, of the 157 players drafted after the Quebecer at auction, only 40 have played at least one game.

big shot, il faut que tu trouves ta chaise et j’ai fait l’erreur d’essayer de devenir un joueur que je n’étais pas, affirme Morand. Je sais que je ne serai jamais un gars de premier trio dans la LNH qui marque 100 points par saison, mais je pense que je pourrais m’établir comme un joueur de 2e ou 3e trio avec de bons instincts offensifs.”,”text”:”Les gens ne réalisent pas que si tu n’es pas un big shot, il faut que tu trouves ta chaise et j’ai fait l’erreur d’essayer de devenir un joueur que je n’étais pas, affirme Morand. Je sais que je ne serai jamais un gars de premier trio dans la LNH qui marque 100 points par saison, mais je pense que je pourrais m’établir comme un joueur de 2e ou 3e trio avec de bons instincts offensifs.”}}”>People don’t realize that if you’re not a bigshot, you have to find your chair and I made the mistake of trying to become a player that I was not, says Morand. I know I’ll never be a first line guy in the NHL who scores 100 points a season, but I think I could establish myself as a 2nd or 3rd line player with good offensive instincts.

For me, it’s better to die playing like you know how to do, than to die trying to be someone else. Of course, you have to adapt and you have to adjust your game, but basically you have to be yourself. »

A quote from Antoine Morand

Antoine Morand insists on the fact that being chosen in the 2nd or 5th round has little impact on the rest of a career. He cites the example of Drake Batherson, drafted well after him, who has just signed a six-year contract for nearly $30 million with the Senators.

It takes an opportunity, a person who loves you, a coach who trusts you and everything can change quickly, he explains. You should never lose hope. Sometimes it’s longer. Everyone has their own path.

He knew how to live great joys in the American League and forged solid friendships, in particular with the Syracuse Crunch which had 10 Quebecers during his stay. He saw the country and enjoyed living in San Diego, a city where life is good.

Still, he would trade his quality of life off the ice for greater happiness on the skates.

You can play in the best city in the world, but if the hockey is bad, it still eats you inside, he explains. I would rather play in the worst city in the NHL and have everything go well than not play well in an amazing city.

At 23, Antoine Morand is already at a crossroads even if he gives himself up to 26 to reach the NHL.

Then, if the door is still closed, he could turn to Europe, a continent with plenty of extraordinary cities and quality hockey.

There is much worse in life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.