Montreal Gazette

Rocket's Mailloux knows time with Habs will come


It looks like it's only a matter of time before Logan Mailloux is recalled by the Canadiens, but the Rocket rookie defenceman never thought that time was coming this week.

Instead, the Canadiens recalled his defence partner, Arber Xhekaj.

“I didn't think I was going to go up there before him, that's for sure,” Mailloux said earlier this week after a practice at Place Bell and following the demotion of defenceman Justin Barron to the Rocket. “I thought (Xhekaj) was going to come down here for a few days, and he ended up staying for a little while. Obviously the goal is to get the call, but there's no rush at the end of the day. I'm not coming in every day and going home at the end of the day hoping that, and worrying about, getting the call up.”

Mailloux, 20, can remain patient considerin­g he has handled the transition to pro seamlessly until now. The six-foot-three, 220-pounder has 10 goals and 26 points through 38 games, including two goals (one into an empty net) in the Rocket's 5-2 victory against Utica on Wednesday night.

Mailloux, selected by the Canadiens in the first round (31st overall) in 2021, is the second-leading scorer among AHL rookie defencemen, but leads all freshmen blueliners in goals. And he'll represent the organizati­on in the AHL Allstar Game, Feb. 4-5, in San Jose. Mailloux, the only Laval player selected, is among 41 first-time AHL all-stars and one of 13 rookies.

“It was cool for sure,” Mailloux admitted. “I wasn't expecting it, to be honest with you. I felt there were a couple of other guys here that could have got the call. It's an honour. It's cool being a rookie and getting that call. I've never really done anything like that. I'm going to wear the Laval crest well out there. I want to represent the organizati­on well.”

After spending more than a month teamed with Xhekaj, Mailloux was paired with Tobie Paquette-bisson against Utica.

“(Mailloux) needs to keep going in the right direction, to show he can play with anybody,” Rocket head coach Jean-françois Houle said. “He is a good player. He doesn't need Arber Xhekaj to be Logan Mailloux.

“He's an all-star, and that's pretty good. This is a young man that's gone through quite a bit (of off-ice controvers­y). He has come down here with a really good attitude. He's showing he can produce offensivel­y and he's hard to play against. That's really good for a young defenceman.”

Mailloux will probably always be saddled with the weight of his controvers­ial selection by Montreal after, at age 17, he secretly photograph­ed a woman, 18, engaged in an explicit sexual act with him during the 2020 season, while he was playing in Sweden with SK Lejon. Mailloux then shared the photo, along with the woman's identity, with his teammates.

Last August, after a meeting with NHL officials, Mailloux was cleared to play in the league. He performed well for the Habs in exhibition games, displaying an offensive flair, although his defensive play at that time required attention — something he has placed emphasis on with the Rocket.

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