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CANADIENS’ CLAUDE JULIEN DISCUSSES HOW MAX DOMI BECAME EXPENDABLE

The Montreal Canadiens will head into the 2020-21 season looking much different, as they have made multiple changes to their roster this offseason. The most notable change happened just a few weeks ago, when they traded forward Max Domi to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Josh Anderson.

While Domi’s name had been rumored to be on the move for quite some time, many seemed to forget just how important he was to the Habs just a season prior. In fact, he was arguably their best player, leading them in scoring with a career high 72 points. This past season however, he appeared to lose the trust of head coach Claude Julien. His point production dropped dramatically, as he posted just 44 points in 71 games. The relationship appeared to get worse as the season went on, and by the time the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs began, Domi was an afterthought, playing just over 10 minutes a game.

Since the trade, many have questioned exactly what went wrong with Domi this season, something Julien tried to explain when speaking to media on Thursday.

“You talk about [Nick] Suzuki, Kotkaniemi, two young centres that the organization really wants to succeed. When we started training camp, obviously Max wasn’t there for the first week, so we put our group together, we started, and all of a sudden we see both those guys – especially Kotkaniemi – really doing well,” Julien explained.

“So, for us, the first thing we thought of was, ‘Hey, we’ve got an opportunity to have four good lines here.’ … That depth we thought we had really helped us get through the first round against Pittsburgh.”


That Penguins series Julien brought up saw Domi featured in a bottom-six role, playing on a line with Dale Weise and Jordan Weal.

“I know for a fact Max really enjoyed playing with Dale Weise – he kept saying ‘I like Dale’ – so we tried to create a line with him, and another experienced player at the beginning was Jordan Weal. So, we tried to create four lines,” Julien said. “At the same time, with Kotkaniemi really doing well, it was important for us to surround him with some good veteran players, strong wingers that would help him out. So, we had to put that puzzle together, and just went with that.”

While there is likely much more to this story than Julien will let on, his reasoning here does make sense. Suzuki was one of the Habs' best players in the playoffs, posting four goals and three assists in 10 games. Kotkaniemi, after being sent to the AHL during the 2019-20 season, also appeared to be much more comfortable with four goals in 10 games.



We likely will never find out the full details of what went on, Domi made it clear in recent comments he never knew where he stood with Julien, and was happy to get a fresh start with the Blue Jackets. This trade may be one that works out for both teams, as the Blue Jackets added more skill, while the Habs added some size they desperately needed in their lineup. It will be fun to watch how this deal shakes out in the seasons ahead.


COLTON PANKIW
OCTOBER 22, 2020  (15H07)
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