Habs’ Danault is living nearperfect life
Life couldn’t be better with new contract, new bride and new baby boy on the way
Life is pretty good right now for the Canadiens’ Phillip Danault. In fact, it’s just about perfect. In July, Danault married his longtime girlfriend, Marie-Pierre Fortin, less than a week after signing a new three-year contract worth US$9.25 million. On Wednesday, Danault announced on Twitter and Instagram that his wife is pregnant with their first child, a boy who is due in February.
“It’s all positive,” Danault said after practice on Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. “We had a tough year last year (when the Canadiens finished 28th in the NHL standings) and all those positive things over the summer helped me to be strong mentally. The great summer gave me good energy and I’m trying to bring that here with the team.”
Danault, who grew up in Victoriaville, said he’s always wanted to become a father. He remembers his father, Alain, building a backyard rink for him for about
five years in a row, starting when he was around 10.
“When the Canadiens were playing, I would watch the first period on TV with him and then I would go outside on the rink,” recalled Danault, who first learned to skate at age 3.
But no matter how much Danault skated on that backyard rink, it couldn’t make him grow. He was only 5-foot-2 during his first season of bantam hockey at age 13 and recalls being scared because it was the first level where hitting was allowed. When Danault made the jump to midget Triple-A two years later with the Trois-Rivières Estacades, he was only 5-foot-4 and was playing on the fourth line.
“I went to see the coach and that changed my career,” Danault recalled. “I said: ‘I’m working hard. I’m always first on and last off the ice.’ I told him I should get more ice time. I remember I was crying. I got emotional.”
The coach, Gilles Bouchard, had a reputation for being tough, but he was obviously impressed by the passion Danault showed.
“The next game I played first line at centre and I played the point on the power play, which I loved,” Danault recalled.
After posting 27 points in 44 regular-season games with the Estacades, Danault put up 15 points in 19 playoff games.
“We went to the final and lost to Laval,” he recalled.
Last month, the Estacades retired the No. 10 that Danault wore. The only other players to have their numbers retired by the midget Triple-A team are goalie Marc Denis and forward Steve Bégin. The ceremony was supposed to be held last January, but a few days before the Estacades had planned to retire Danault’s jersey, he took a slapshot from Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara off the head during a game at the Bell Centre. he suffered a concussion and missed 30 games.
He posted 8-17-25 totals in the 52 games he played last season. He has one assist in the first three games this season, and says there are no issues now from his concussion.
Danault will be at centre between Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher on Saturday night when the Canadiens play the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio).
After playing midget TripleA, Danault hit a growth spurt during four seasons with his hometown Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL and is now listed at 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds. His father was the public address announcer for Tigres home games and Danault was able to live at home with his parents during his junior career, which he says helped him immensely.
Chicago selected Danault in the first round (26th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft and the Canadiens acquired him from the Blackhawks on Feb. 26, 2016, along with a second-round pick at this year’s draft (used to select Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov) in exchange for forwards Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. It was one of GM Marc Bergevin’s best moves.
Life growing up in Victoriaville was very enjoyable for Danault.
“It’s a great city … it’s a happy city,” he said. “It’s peaceful.”
It’s also where he met his future wife five years ago, when they were living in the same duplex. She’s from Quebec City, but had moved to Victoriaville for work.
“I was with my whole family painting and she was on her deck … she was the girl next door,” Danault said with a big smile. “I said: ‘Hi, I’m Phil.’ She came over and my whole family was there. My mother (Michelle) has nine brothers and sisters and they were all there. They said: ‘Your neighbour’s hot!’ They all fell in love with her.
“It was destiny,” Danault added. “She’s such a good person. She’s beautiful … she’s a little treasure. I got lucky … very lucky because I was supposed to be moving to another house.”
One thing led to another and now the happy couple are excited about becoming parents.
Phillip Danault, who inked a three-year, US$9.25 million deal in July, will centre Tomas Tatar and Brendan Gallagher on Saturday.