“On your first day in prison, walk up to the biggest guy and punch him in the face.” The idea behind this is that you’ll gain the respect of the rest of the cell block. While this movie trope probably isn’t the best advice for anyone actually bound for prison, there seems to be at least one place where this approach holds up—the NHL. Jeremy Lauzon dropped the gloves with Brady Tkachuk last night when the Nashville Predators faced the Ottawa Senators. Lauzon, who has been with the team for less than a month, has quickly made an impression on his teammates and it was very apparent after the game as teammates Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen and Head Coach John Hynes spoke to the media.
Of course, Roman Josi had more than enough reason to take a victory lap after Thursday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. The Nashville Predators captain, who has been at the top of many lists for the Norris Trophy, not only tied but broke the team’s single-season points record over the course of the night. However, in that moment, Josi chose to spread praise around the locker room. One of the players he named was fellow defender Jeremy Lauzon, praising Lauzon’s first period fight with Senators captain Brady Tkachuk: “The fights we have just give our team that momentum every time.” Ryan Johansen, who scored the game-winning goal on the power play, also brought up Lauzon and his fight. “You know, Tkachuk is not a small boy; he’s a big boy. It’s what you love to see out of a new teammate and a new brother—going out there and doing whatever he can to gain your teammates’ respect. He’s done that and we’re lucky to have him and it’s awesome to see him be successful out there.”
It’s certainly nice to see Lauzon welcomed with open arms by his new teammates. Lauzon was a second-round draft pick by the Boston Bruins back in 2015. He never seemed to settle in Boston, bouncing back and forth between the big club and the team’s AHL affiliate in Providence. He managed to find serious ice time with the Bruins during the abbreviated season last year, but was ultimately left unprotected in the Seattle expansion draft. And off to Seattle he went.
As Lauzon didn’t gain solid footing in Boston, Seattle itself has failed to gain solid footing this season and has looked to build for the future. They found a trading partner in Predators General Manager David Poile, who’d been interested in the defender for awhile. Lauzon jumped right into the thick of things as he joined the team on a West Coast road trip and has quickly settled into his role on the team while also embracing the Predators team mentality.
Head Coach John Hynes also had a lot of praise for Lauzon after the game:
“We knew coming in that he’s a great kid, a fantastic teammate, and a very coachable guy. He plays the way that we want to be able to play. He came in to a new team and winds up getting into two fights, which shows his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team. He seems more and more comfortable. I’m proud of the way our team accepted him. He seems much more comfortable every game understanding how we want to play, and that also allows him to play quicker and faster. He really fits into the team as a person and his character as a person, but also his style of play.”
Nashville is known for developing defensemen, and with Roman Josi setting the tone as the team’s leader on and off the ice, Jeremy Lauzon is definitely in the right place to learn from the best defender in the league. John Hynes finished, “I think the players are really recognizing that and have accepted him and I think Jeremy is really happy to be here, and I think he’s got a lot of upside for us.”
If you want proof of the place Lauzon has taken, look no further than the “Ace of Hearts” costume ceremony in the locker room, the prize the team awards to its own player of the game. Ryan Johansen pointed out that they gave it to Lauzon after the Senators game—the game where Roman Josi tied and broke the team’s single season scoring record.