Habs Eyes on the Prize keeps good track of young French-speaking players, and have written a thorough draft profile on Tampa Bay Lightning’s first pick of the draft, 59th-overall center Gabriel Fortier. Scott Matla of HEOTP was at the draft combine and took video of Fortier answering journalists’ questions. At the very least, it gives us our first look at Fortier as a player.
Journalist from Columbus Post-Dispatch: How’s your brother [Maxime Fortier of the Cleveland Monsters, signed by CBJ to an ELC in 2017]?
Fortier: He’s good, he’s training. His season is done for like a month, yeah, so he’s training.
Columbus Journalist: [Unintelligible] What kind of advice does your brother give you?
Fortier: He tells me to be more confident with the puck, you know, he’s gonna have two scoring chances in a game and he’s gonna score two goals, so I think I need to be more kind of dangerous defensively like him.
Columbus Journalist: What kind of a center are you?
Fortier: I’m a fast skater. I always play my 100%. I do well defensively and offensively, so I’m a complete player.
Columbus Journalist: [Something about playing with his brother.]
Fortier: When I was younger I was always playing with him, and he was always winning, so I think I threw a couple of sticks at Max. I was running [after him] so, good memories.
Columbus Journalist: [Unintelligible] What did you guys play in the back yard?
Fortier: Soccer, for fun. Hockey mostly. I was in goal, he was always shooting on me. The younger brother is always in the goal, so. He had a hard shot. We’re pretty close, always in the summer we are spending time together.
Columbus Journalist: How many other siblings do you have?
Fortier: I only have one brother.
Columbus Journalist: Did you drive your parents crazy?
Fortier: Not that much. I think we were listening to them a lot. I think we were good children.
Columbus Journalist: [Something about how Max had a different path to the NHL because he was undrafted.] Talk about your experience with this whole thing. How excited are you to be here and see this.
Fortier: I went to two drafts with him and he didn’t get drafted, but he was still working hard, so he got [signed by Columbus]. Yeah, it’s a good mold for me, even though I don’t get drafted, I can still have a chance to be in the NHL.
Columbus Journalist: [Something about] How tough was it to go to two drafts with him?
Fortier: I think me and my parents were more, like, down than him, he was just “you know, I’m good, hockey is on the ice, I’ll prove to them on the ice that I’ll be a good player.” He didn’t get down, he continued to work, and I think that’s why he signed with Columbus.
Columbus Journalist: Is that part of leadership [something]?
Fortier: I think that for a younger player that comes into the league, he’s a good example. He eats well, he sleeps well, he trains hard on the ice even at practice, so I think he’s a good role model for young kids. I want to go through all of the things he went [through], so he’s a good model. If I have a question he’s always there to help me, and I train with him in the summer. I push him.
Columbus Journalist: How many teams have you talked to?
Fortier: 18 teams.
Columbus Journalist: Were the Jackets there?
Fortier: Yep they were there.
Columbus Journalist: Was it a good one?
Fortier: Yeah, it was a good one. It would be nice to play with my brother, but no matter what team draft me or invite me to camp, I’ll be excited.
Columbus Journalist: Did they say anything about Max [transcriber is getting super tired of this guy’s fixation on Max]?
Fortier: Yeah they told me to say hi to him and asked me how he was.
Columbus Journalist: Do you think that you’re the same kind of player [as Max]?
Fortier: I think we’re pretty different kinds of players. We work hard every shift, and maybe I’m more defensive than him, he’s more offensive, but I think if we watch each other play we can become more complete players.
Columbus Journalist: Do you trash talk each other in English?
Fortier: No, French more.
Toronto Journalist: Was Toronto one of the teams you interviewed with?
Fortier: Yeah, I spoke with Toronto.
Toronto Journalist: How was that meeting?
Fortier: Yeah, it was a good meeting. They put me at my...comfortable at first, so it was a really good meeting.
Montreal Journalist: Did you meet with Montreal?
Fortier: Yeah, I did meet with Montreal too, it was my first meeting. It was good, you know for every young French kid, we all want to play for Montreal, so it’s a good interview.
Montreal Journalist: [Something about struggling last year but doing much better this year] What do you attribute that to?
Fortier: I think first I played more games than last year. So it was a big factor. And just my teammates, I was playing with [Ivan] Chekhovich and [D’Artagnan] Joly, it was a great line, I think we were working every shift, so it helped, yeah.
Columbus Journalist again: What was it like playing against your brother [in junior hockey] playoffs]?
Fortier: At first it was weird, being in the playoff we were gonna play four to seven games against him. At first it was weird, but after, you know, we were playing our game and focused on the things we need to do.