One-on-One with Cedrick Desjardins

Nothing has come easy for Monsters goalie Cedrick Desjardins. But for a man who thrives on challenges, he couldn’t have done it any other way.

Desjardins was drafted 200th overall by the Rimouski Océanic in the QMJHL, where he played alongside a young forward named Sidney Crosby. In his first season, Desjardins won just one game in 23 starts. The next season, alongside Crosby, his squad went on a 35-game win streak before being topped in the finals.

After being traded in the offseason, Desjardins – coached by one of his childhood idols, Patrick Roy – led the Quebec Ramparts to the 2006 Memorial Cup – winning the Hap Emms Memorial Trophy as the tournament’s most valuable goaltender along the way.

The next year, Desjardins signed with the Hamilton Bulldogs and was assigned to the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. And in 2008, Cincinnati won the ECHL Kelly Cup Championship – with Desjardins winning the playoffs MVP award.

Desjardins signed with the Canadiens in 2010, but was dealt to Tampa Bay less than a month later. That season, the native Canadian started two games for the Lightning – stopping 28 of 29 shots in his NHL debut, a 4-1 Tampa Bay win.

This offseason, Desjardins inked a free agent deal with the Colorado Avalanche and – after rehabbing from a shoulder injury that sidelined him since last season – has been one of the hottest goalkeepers in the AHL. sat down with the red-hot netminder to talk about playing with Sid the Kid, being coached by Patrick Roy and his gameday rituals as a goalie

After rehabbing your shoulder injury, how do you feel now?
Cedrick Desjardins: I feel good. It will take a while before (the shoulder) back to 100 percent but at the same time it feels really good right now.

Was that the first major injury of your career?
Desjardins: The first major one, yeah. I had surgery on that shoulder when I was younger. But this was the first big one. The other stuff was just like normal stuff, nothing major.

And now that you’re back?
Desjardins: I worked hard just to get back and play games. I prepared all summer to be ready for my first month of the season and it’s paid off.

It’s only the first month and we need to build from that. Every win is huge right now and we have to battle to get to that .500 mark. And that’s what we’re trying to do right now.

What goes into a goalie getting hot or getting into a good rhythm?
Desjardins: It’s many factors, but the team getting a huge goal right away helps. And the timing. You have the bounces go your way. Basically, it’s like a pitcher in baseball. Sometimes, there’s stuff you can’t control, but sometimes when you do everything you can control, you just manage everything else.

That’s kind of how it is for the goalies. You manage what you can and you hope the bounces go your way. That’s pretty much what’s going on now. The team is playing really well in front of me, and that helps a lot. Lately, we’ve had a lead right away, and that’s been a big difference.

Talk about getting 38 stops in your last game against Peoria.
Desjardins: They have a good team. They have like the two best scorers in the league. And those guys have been rolling and doing really well. It was a good challenge for our defense (and the goalie as well). I think that was a huge three points.

We have to build off that and get some confidence and move on to the teams in our division now.

After not being drafted, you’ve taken the unconventional route to get here. Does that serve as motivation?
Desjardins: Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve had to prove myself. Everywhere I went, I started as a backup goalie. No team would give the pole right away, and I had to battle back. But at the same time, it’s kind of the way I battle through adversity and that’s the way I play my best, honestly.

I have to get challenged, I have to get pushed. The toughest part is not giving up, and that’s what I did all the time. Just never give up.

I’m kind of stubborn.

You were once coached by the great Patrick Roy. What was it like to learn from a living legend?
Desjardins: The surprising thing is when that kind of guy calls you and says, ‘We just traded for you.’

It’s strange when probably the best goalie in the history of mankind calls you and says, ‘We need you because I think we can win with you.’ I was just kind of surprised.

We had a run that season where we won like 14 in a row. We were doing really good, and we had some bumps along the road, but we wound up winning (QMJHL Championship) in the end.

What were some of the biggest things you learned from Roy?
Desjardins: I remember he taught me: Everything you can’t control, don’t worry about it. But everything you can control, do your best. I remember his favorite thought was: ‘If your goalie is in good shape, you can win every game.’

That was his thinking: that if your goalie was hot, anything can happen.

With Rimouski Océanic, you played with a young Sidney Crosby. Is it true that that team won 35 straight games?
Desjardins: That year, I lost my last game in mid-November and we didn’t lose again until the third round of the playoffs. At first, we were scoring three or four goals every game for sure.

The thing was, every team was ready to play us and that was a big challenge. Guy Bouchet was the coach. But everything came together. The only team that could beat us that year was London. And they beat us in the Finals.

Did you catch Sidney Crosby’s return to action this week?
Desjardins: It was unreal!

He’s been working hard. I think that the step-back he had will be the best thing for his career because that guy never stopped – he played until June every year. And you’ll see Sid at his prime over the next couple years. And I hope his health is doing good and let’s hope he will be able to keep that same pace.

In just two games with Tampa Bay you had big games – including stopping 28 or 29 shots in your pro debut. What was the experience of your first NHL game like?
Desjardins: Coach told me at (that) morning skate that I was starting that night. He wanted me to have a good night sleep. But he also told me a few days before: ‘Get ready; you never know.’ So I was getting ready before that night, but you never know – like he said.

So that day, when he told me, I called all my friends. But he didn’t want me to tell the media because he said, ‘I want you to be focused, I don’t want any media to talk to you. Just get in your game out there and we’ll take care of the rest.’

So, that’s what happened. First shot, first goal. But after that, nothing. Even the next game, I stopped everything but the last shot. You work so hard your whole life for that kind of opportunity.

How are you enjoying your time with the Monsters and in Cleveland?
Desjardins: It’s good. It was a good opportunity for me. It’s a young team. It’s a team that has a lot of energy. We’re a fast team. We defend well and have a good system for a goalie. We play a lot of tight games, and that helps, too.

Goalies are always compared to pitchers in terms of superstitions and rituals. Do you have any?
Desjardins: I have tons of them! On game day I have a routine. I don’t talk a lot on game day. Even my wife says that. It’s kind of the way I can have my best game on the ice – that’s the thing.

Night in and night out, you have to find a routine so you can play your best, because you can’t let down the team. A lot of guys in front of you depend on you. So you have that pressure. But that’s when I’m at my best.

So you definitely have a game day routine?
Desjardins: I have a little routine. Everything I do that day is calculated, and that’s the way I work.

It’s nothing crazy. It’s just the way I wake up that morning, what I eat. I do my stick first, then my stretching. It’s nothing crazy.

I take it you don’t play “Sewer Ball” with the guys before the games, then?
Desjardins: Never.

The reason?
Desjardins: You never know. If the team doesn’t feel good, I need to feel good that day. If the team is doing really good, you want to be part of it. But if the team is not ready, you need to be ready anyway.

Because you might be the reason we win the game.


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