KAMLOOPS | Seattle Thunderbirds head coach Matt O’Dette never played in the NHL, but he almost had a moment that captured the attention of Montreal Canadiens fans.
In the past: On April 25, 2002, Boston Bruins defenseman Kyle McLaren made a foul on Montreal Canadiens forward Richard Zednik, with 1:17 to play in Game 4 of the series between the two teams, which the then-Habs . led 3 to 0.
The meeting ends in chaos and the Bruins win to force a fifth game, in Boston. McLaren then becomes public enemy noh 1 and the tension is rising between the two teams.
After the game, Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said his team will also target the Bruins’ best midfielders in the next game, a statement that will earn him a $30,000 fine and force NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to issue a warning to all teams. two to ensure that no overflow will occur.
He has been called back for revenge
Before the fifth game, the Canadiens remember the 6’5″, 228 lb colossus famous for his boxing skills: Matt O’Dette. The latter was already on the team’s tour, he was part of the “Black Aces”, these players who follow the team on playing matches as a preventive measure.
“I remember after the match, André Savard [le directeur général des Canadiens à l’époque] he was in the hallway and he was like, “Where’s O’Dette? Where’s O’Dette? You’re coming with us to Boston!'” she recalls laughing.
“Then I started training with the main group and there was talk about the fact that I might play because the team wanted revenge. I was so nervous! My whole family was glued to their TVs.
Finally, O’Dette participates in the warm-up period, but does not participate in the meeting and the match takes place without much overflow. The Canadiens eventually won the series in six games before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the next series. O’Dette will not play any games with the team.
Transition to a teaching role
O’Dette ultimately did not play a game in the NHL and then, in 2009, decided to transition to a player-coach position with the Stockton Thunder of the East Coast League (ECHL). He will then do his studies before becoming the head coach of the Thunderbirds, in 2017-2018.
“It was a natural progression for me. I was the captain of my teams for several years at the end of my career and this was the next step. I had been preparing for it all my life. The hardest thing for a coach is to get a chance and when it presented itself, I took it.
After participating in the Memorial Cup as a Thunderbirds assistant in 2017, he is now back as a team driver with the aim, unlike in 2017, to walk away with the prestigious trophy.
“I have been playing youth hockey for ten years and this is my second participation in this tournament. Nothing can be taken for granted. We have a chance to do something big and we want to seize it.”
The Thunderbirds will play their second game of the tournament against the Quebec Remparts on Monday night.