When Nick Suzuki was named captain of the Montreal Canadiens in September, his ability to speak French became a major talking point.
The London, Ont., native had a strong base to build on having learned French in school growing up, but he said he could still improve his skills. During a trip to Las Vegas for the NHL media tour prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, Suzuki found encouragement from an unlikely source.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby knows the importance of speaking the language having played in the QMJHL with the Rimouski Oceanic and advised Suzuki to put in the work to do the same.
Suzuki heard the message loud and clear.
"It’s definitely good coming from him," Suzuki told The Athletic's Arpon Basu and Marc Antoine Godin. "I think he was kind of thrown in the fire and had to learn French to speak with his teammates and buddies. I think it’s something that will take time for me, for sure, but I have a good background in it so I don’t think it will take me as long as someone just learning French for the first time."
Suzuki understands the weight the role of Canadiens captain holds in Montreal and hopes to improve his French in order to better connect with the team's passionate supporters.
"Over 50 percent of the fanbase speaks French, and obviously some don’t speak English, so if you’re able to communicate with them in their language, it just creates a sense that you’re trying and that you want to reach a broader fan base," Suzuki told The Athletic. "So I think it’s definitely important and hopefully I can get a few lines down and work my way through that."
The weight of the "C" on his chest hasn't been dragging down his on-ice performance, as Suzuki is poised for a career-best season. The 23-year-old has 11 goals and 12 assists through 18 games as the Canadiens own a 9-8-1 record.
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