CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Olivier Desjardins is a smart hockey player.
He saw the writing on the wall and knew he had to find his niche to take the next step in his hockey career.
“I’m a defensive defenceman. I’m blocking a lot of shots, play a lot of minutes on the PK, that’s my job. I love it,” the Charlottetown Islanders blue-liner said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’ve always been that kind of guy.
“When I was in midget, I had to find a role to be in the (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) because it’s not everybody that can play in the Q.”
It’s a role he is proud to have, and he’s a guy his teammates appreciate and respect.
When the Islanders were struggling out of the gate, the team made a relatively unheralded move. Charlottetown sent a seventh-round pick to Moncton for Desjardins on Oct. 14. The team was 2-6-1-0 at the time. Since then, they are 24-10-2-0.
“He’s just that steady defenceman that we needed,” Getson said. “He goes out every night and does his job. . . Not a lot of people notice it, but he’s out there blocking shots every shift it looks like. Not a lot of fans notice that, but guys on the bench definitely do.”
Head coach and general manager Jim Hulton said in the fall the team was looking to acquire an experienced defenceman. Three guys, including Desjardins, were on the team’s radar with the determining factor being Desjardins right-handed shot. It brought balance to the team’s D corps.
“It’s such a hidden part of the game,” Hulton said. “It’s a lot more difficult that most people can appreciate.”
The hunch worked and Hulton said the overage defenceman instantly stabilized the back end.
“He’s got that steady, calm presence that you hope for from a veteran defenceman,” he said. “You can put him out in all situations, he doesn't get frantic. He stays calm, cool and collected, and it’s a great example for our younger D as well.”
Desjardins is in his fourth season in the league. He played two seasons in Val-d’Or, one in Acadie-Bathurst and started this season in Moncton.
He made it to the league semifinal in his rookie season with Val-d’Or as the sixth seed but saw his Foreurs eliminated in the first round the next year when the 13th-ranked Blainville-Boisbriand Armada knocked them out in six games.
He can bring that experience to the Isles dressing room and let his teammates know that anything is possible once the post-season begins.
“We have to make sacrifices and be ready for the playoffs,” he said.
Desjardins is described as a quiet young man, who is well-liked by his teammates.
“Whenever you see guys that put their body on the line to block shots, that’s usually a pretty good indicator of how good of a guy they are,” Hulton said.
Need to know
Who – A defenceman with the Charlottetown Islanders.
Age – 20.
Hometown – Drummondville, Que.
Size – Six-foot-two and 195-pounds.
Season GP G A Pts. PIM
2017-18 44 3 6 9 18
2016-17 68 4 18 22 29
2015-16 68 1 13 14 45
2014-15 59 3 10 13 33
Head coach Jim Hulton: “When you start using words like steady, reliable and dependable, coaches usually have a big smile on their face . . . because that's what you need to win hockey games.”