Guillaume Latendresse: The Minny-Man Can

Even though Guillaume Latendresse is not a native Minnesotan, he has found his fit in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. The former second round selection of the Montreal Canadiens didn’t quite pan out in Montreal after three promising seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL. While Latendresse did not perform up to his expected standards in Montreal, he seemed to find his stride after a trade during the 2009-2010 NHL season sent the francophone to the Minnesota Wild.

Before his stint with the Montreal Canadiens, Guillaume Latendresse was a highly regarded power forward who was chosen second behind Sidney Crosby in the 2003 QMJHL entry draft. Gui’s three seasons in the QMJHL saw the power forward steadily improve upon his point totals while getting prepped for his professional hockey career. Even though Latendresse made the 2006-2007 roster for the Montreal Canadiens, his 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) and -20 rating in 80 games illustrated that the power forward still had aspects of his game that needed to be improved upon.

During his next two plus seasons in Montreal, Latendresse recorded 32 goals and 24 assists, but his work ethic and conditioning were constantly questioned as the power forward kept under-performing. While Latendresse managed to tally at least 14 goals in each of his first three full seasons in a Montreal uniform, he was far from the point per game player that he was for most of his career in the QMJHL and did little to show that he was a draft pick that was worthy of receiving top line and top 6 forward minutes. After 232 games played with the Canadiens, Bob Gainey decided that it was time to part with his former second round draft pick as he traded Guillaume Latendresse for Benoit Pouliot.

Latendresse’s trade to the Minnesota Wild did not go unnoticed as Gui posted 37 points (25 goals, 12 assists) and 133 shots on goal for his new club in only 55 games. A change of scenery was exactly what Latendresse needed in order to kick start his career in the NHL, but a myriad of injuries hampered Latendresse in Minnesota as he was only able to appear in 11 games during the 2010-2011 season. While a sports hernia and torn labrum prevented Latendresse from being a force in the Minnesota lineup during the 2010-2011 season, he made a conscious effort toward better conditioning and dieting in an effort to keep up his strong play and durability over the course of a full NHL season.

Latendresse’s want and ability to slim down for the start of the 2011-2012 season came at the heels of owner Craig Leipold’s criticisms of the power forward. Even though Latendresse has shown a desire to contribute to his team when healthy, Gui’s abilities have constantly been called into question, regardless of where he plays. While Craig Leipold called out Latendresse at the end of the 2010-2011 season because of his conditioning and dieting, Hall of Famer Patrick Roy gave Latendresse a warm welcome to Montreal and the NHL when he surmised over Gui’s insertion and presence in the Canadiens’ lineup. Since Roy’s comments, Latendresse has done the most to discredit his critics and has shown a strong ambition to win in any environment that he has been placed in.

Despite the fact that the media questioned Latendresse’s desire to return to Montreal in the future, the power forward is currently enjoying his reinvigorated career in the Twin Cities. Playing on a team with the likes of Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, and Devin Setoguchi will only help Latendresse flourish in a state that values and loves their Wild and Gopher hockey.

However, Guillaume Latendresse must make sure that he fully recovers from the lingering effects of a concussion that he sustained back in November of this current NHL season. The power forward is just the latest NHL player to be diagnosed with concussion-related symptoms and his road back to the Minnesota lineup will be an uncertain one as more and more teams are taking preventative measures to ensure that players with concussions make full recoveries before they play again. If anything, Latendresse has shown that he has an affinity with female viewers and his topless photo for a Montreal magazine made it apparent that Gui is anything but shy when the limelight is on him.

While Latendresse’s modeling prospects are most likely the least of his concerns at the moment, the power forward must make sure that his dieting regimen is not severely impacted as he continues to recover from a concussion. Latendresse has repeatedly professed his hunger to win in a Wild uniform and has made strides in various aspects of his game over the past few seasons. The Minnesota Wild lineup will only be strengthened upon Latendresse’s return as the power forward has seemingly found his niche on a team that can utilize his size, strength, and soft hands around the net.

For those interested in Latendresse’s soft hands, feel free to take a look at the power forward’s scoring prowess in the below compilation: