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Comtois bringing lessons from Ducks to World Juniors with Canada

December 14th, 2018

by Kevin Woodley / NHL.com Correspondent

VICTORIA, British Columbia — As one of two returning players from Canada’s gold medal-winning team, Max Comtois was already being counted on to provide leadership at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Playing with the Anaheim Ducks in between tournaments better prepared him for the role.

The 19-year-old forward had seven points (two goals, five assists) in 10 games with the Ducks this season before being sent back to Drummondville in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. But it was the lessons from the Anaheim locker room he believes will help him lead Canada now.

“Just being around guys like [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Corey] Perry, they are professional, they are really great leaders, and I am just trying to bring that to my game,” said Comtois, who was picked by the Ducks in the second round (No. 50) of the 2017 NHL Draft. “Being a pro on and off the ice, it’s the same thing, it’s the same attitude, and that’s what I learned from Getzlaf and Perry and other guys. Just bringing that here, bringing my experience and being a leader and being a returning guy from last year is going to help.”

Asked for specifics, Comtois said it was how they approached every day the same way, especially during a seven-game losing streak in late October. Comtois was out with a lower-body injury for the final four games of the 0-5-2 slump but remained with the Ducks until he was sent to San Diego in the American Hockey League for a two-week conditioning stint Nov. 10.

“Sometimes you don’t feel like coming to the rink, but those guys are in the NHL for a reason, they’ve been there 10-15 years, and it’s always the same routine, always the same attitude. They stay positive,” said Comtois, who scored one goal in four AHL games before being sent to the QMJHL on Nov. 24. “We got a losing streak and they were staying positive and keep smiling. That’s the main thing I learned.”

Comtois, who returns for Canada along with forward Alex Formenton (Ottawa Senators), said he believes that experience will help him during an 11-day tournament when momentum can swing wildly from shift to shift.

“There will be ups and downs,” he said. “We just have to stay grounded, stick to our principles and create a chemistry and stay as a family the whole tournament.”

Comtois (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) has 203 points (95 goals, 108 assists) in 185 QMJHL games with Drummondville and Victoriaville. He opened selection camp this week on Canada’s top line with Florida Panthers forward Owen Tippett and Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Glass, who was one of the final cuts last season.

“[Max is] smart, quick, and you saw the success he had at the start of the year in Anaheim and you saw the success he had last year at the World Juniors,” said Tippett, who was picked in first round (No. 10) of the 2017 draft by Florida and has played with Comtois for Canada at under-17 and under-18 tournaments internationally. “When you get a chance to play with a player like that, it’s special.”

Comtois has seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games since returning to Drummondville.

“He’s hard on the puck and plays an NHL-like game,” said Glass, who was picked in first round (No. 6) of the 2017 draft by Vegas and played with Comtois at the World Junior showcase tournament this summer. “I’m a skilled playmaker and I know he’s got a really good shot, same as Tippett, so if I can find them in those little areas to give him that little time, they can score in a matter of nothing.”

The line will be counted on to provide a strong forecheck in a system coach Tim Hunter said will make Canada one of the fastest in World Junior history. The tournament begins Dec. 26.

“We’re trying to be way faster than last year and trying to improve on what went a little bit wrong last year and just keep moving forward,” Comtois said.

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