On the eve of the opening of the free agent market on July 28, Joel Armia initialed a four-year contract and 13.6 million (3.4 million per year). Armia therefore chose to put down roots in Montreal instead of testing its worth.
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Almost six months later, the Canadian probably looks at this decision as a poisoned gift. Like the team, the Finn is having a horrible season with one meager goal and four assists in 31 games.
Armia took part in a videoconference after he left training at the Gila River Arena in Glendale. Historically, the big right-winger, 6’3″, 218 lbs, has never been the type of player to empty his guts in front of reporters. He always kept a great reserve, being shy and not very talkative.
This was still the case on the eve of this game against the Arizona Coyotes, the big rivals of CH at the moment for obtaining the first choice in the next draft.
Asked about his statistic of a single goal in 31 games, Armia did not find the right words to explain his offensive setbacks.
“Hmm, I don’t know, I have no idea,” he replied. If I knew that, I would correct things immediately. I do not know. I have no idea. »
A painful season
The CH does not win, Armia does not score, there have been tons of injuries since the first day of the camp and there have been several positive cases for COVID-19. It’s no secret. This 2021-2022 season has been in the water for a long time.
“It’s probably the most mentally and physically difficult season of my career,” Armia said. It is not easy. I hope I can turn things around by the end of the year. »
“There is also confidence, added number 40. When you score goals, you get points and you win, it’s easier. When you don’t win, it’s less easy. »
Against the Coyotes, Armia will get another chance to come back playing on the right wing with Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen, two players he knows well.
Not a matter of work
Dominique Ducharme has already described Armia as a great project. Claude Julien had said the same thing before him. He’s tall, big, he’s got nimble hands and he’s a master at protecting the puck. But there are evenings when the heart follows skills less.
Ducharme, however, does not share the vision of a lack of effort with his right winger.
“Before scoring a goal, there is a process, said the head coach of CH. He must use his forces, in the three zones. He has to stack up the small actions to get scoring chances. The more chances you have, the more goals you get. We can measure them however we want. For him, in his process, I have already spoken to him about it, we know that he can bring more, in the way he skates, he wins battles and in puck protection. »
“Joel has been through difficult situations this season,” he continued. He has a hard time getting started. But it is not a lack of will. When you look from the outside, it can sometimes look like that. Not the one who jumps everywhere, who shows the most energy. He is proud, he knows he can give more. He is looking for himself. But it is not a question of wanting or disinterest. »
In the playoffs last year, Armia had eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 21 games.
A duel against the Coyotes will also mean a first game for Christian Dvorak against his old team. The journalists assigned to cover the “Yotes” did not, however, ask their boss for more pages for the sports section.
“I have many memories coming back here,” said the 25-year-old center. It was the team that picked me up. I liked my five seasons too. I have good friends, good things to say about the team and the organization. There are only five or six guys left from last year. It’s different. It’s weird going into the opposing team’s locker room. »