The mysterious Joel Armia of the Montreal Canadiens

Earlier this week, the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PWHA) announced their selection of Joel Armia as the Montreal Canadiens’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy.

At the start of training camp in September, head coach Martin St. Louis emphasized that there were no guaranteed spots for young forwards. While veterans occupied certain positions, there was room for younger players to prove themselves. St. Louis used a metaphorical image, likening the team lineup to chairs where everyone had to be in the right seat. He emphasized that even veterans could be displaced by younger, more effective players. In a surprising turn, Armia not only lost his position but was placed on waivers and reassigned to Laval.

Despite the setback, Armia didn’t wallow or resist his assignment to the AHL, a common response among veterans in similar situations. Instead, he embraced the challenge with determination. During his time in Laval, Armia excelled, registering nine points in eight games, compelling the Canadiens to recall him when injuries struck.

On his return, Armia displayed a renewed vigor on the ice, actively engaging in plays and making significant contributions offensively and defensively. He currently ranks among the team’s top goal-scorers and has been instrumental in penalty killing situations. Armia attributed his transformation to working with Montreal’s mental performance coach, Jean-François Ménard, addressing his tendency to dwell on mistakes.

Armia’s resurgence has not gone unnoticed, earning him recognition from the PHWA as the Canadiens’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, symbolizing a season of redemption. While victory may be uncertain, being nominated is undoubtedly rewarding.

With seven games remaining, Armia has already matched his personal best in goals, hinting at further achievements. As the season progresses, his value to the Canadiens continues to rise, potentially enhancing his trade appeal if the team decides to sell at the deadline. Despite future uncertainties, Montreal celebrates every moment of Armia’s revitalization, hoping for a continued commitment akin to his standout performance in the 2021 playoffs, which led to a contract extension.

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