Tue Oct 12 12:49pm EDT
Montreal Canadiens prospect Louis Leblanc became an instant Quebec Major Junior Hockey League star when he decided to leave Harvard University after one season for the Montreal Juniors.
The 19-year-old is off to a hot start, with 12 points in seven games for Montreal (6-2-2-1), expected to contend for the QMJHL title. Buzzing The Net correspondent Nathan White caught up with Leblanc on Montreal's recent three-game swing through the Maritimes.
What are your impressions so far of junior hockey?
"It's been good. We started strong, we've got a strong team and a good coaching staff. This (past weekend road trip) through the Maritimes, we played three (games) in three (nights), we did a lot of good things, but we also see we have work to do."
Take me back to when you were first drafted into the QMJHL (by Val-d'Or in the first round in 2007), what were you thinking at that time?
There was a lot of media attention, a lot of meetings with coaches, but I wasn't interested (in coming to junior at that time). I had my mind on school and I followed my heart. Things changed, I'm here now and I'm excited to be here.
What went into your decision to leave NCAA hockey for junior?
"I just wanted to play more games. And to be able to play in Montreal, being a Montreal kid, everything worked out perfect."
What did you study at Harvard?
What are your best and worst memories from your time at college?
"My best memories are all the friends, the people I met there, great friends. The worst is probably losing in the playoffs, not going far in the hockey season."
What is that academic environment like?
"It's the best university in the world. Everything about it is awesome: the rooms, the facilities, the people there. I spent one year there, but I'll be back eventually. Harvard is a special place."
What was it like being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens?
"It's an unreal feeling being drafted and especially being from Montreal just added the cherry."
How do you like playing your junior hockey in the same city?
"It's great, obviously there's lots of attention, with pre-game interviews, post-game interviews, talk shows, TV shows."
Junior hockey hasn't been extremely successful in Montreal in the past, and some people are looking to you to help put it on the map. Do you feel any added pressure because of that?
"Not really. I don't see too much pressure. I have fun every day with the guys and it's fun to come to the rink."
What are your goals for the year?
"I want to make the world junior team at Christmas. [Leblanc was a late cut from Team Canada in 2010 — Ed.] That's at the top of my list right now, and just to produce as much as I can for the team."
What do you like to do away from the rink?
"I like to read, mostly sports books and the psychology of the game. Hanging out with friends."
Any book recommendations for our readers?
I'm reading a book right now called Mind Gym."