It had been roughly a week since Martin St. Louis had been named coach of the Canadiens when he walked into the interview room at the team’s practice facility in Brossard and spelled out his No. 1 principle when it comes to player development.
First of all, player development was not solely reserved for young players. But secondly, and most importantly, player development was not necessarily the same as skill development. As far as St. Louis was concerned, it had nothing to do with hands and feet.
It had to do with the brain.
“Once they get here, can they get faster? Yeah, maybe a little bit. Can they get stronger? Yeah, some young kids, yes. But in general, and especially by the time they’re 25, 26, they’re all close to being tapped in all those things,” St. Louis said then. “And I don’t know, the one thing I think — I’m not sure where they’re tapped. And I think that’s why I was able to have a long career: I feel my brain just kept getting better and better and better.”
This didn’t fall in line with hockey’s conventional wisdom that hockey intelligence, something more commonly referred to as hockey IQ, couldn’t be taught. It has long been assumed that was innate, but St. Louis experienced the development of his own intelligence as a player, so he knew that wasn’t necessarily true, at least not for him.