The Huskies and Montreal Canadiens have so many connections that some might call the relationship between the school and professional hockey team a “bromance.”
By Matt Levin
Over the last decade, Northeastern’s men’s hockey program has quietly become a premier NHL pipeline. Numerous Huskies have been drafted by and play for NHL teams and other professional leagues. But Northeastern hockey has a very strong connection with one NHL team in particular: the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens-Northeastern connection is entirely coincidental, but the connection is so strong that some may call it a “bromance.” For starters, in 2022, Northeastern had two Huskies on the roster that were drafted by the Canadiens: defenseman Jordan Harris (drafted in the third round in 2018) and defenseman Jayden Struble (drafted in the second round in 2019). Once the collegiate season concluded, Harris joined former Husky Cayden Primeau on the Canadiens and scored his first NHL goal in a victory over the Florida Panthers.
Another connection is Martin St. Louis, father of Husky forward Ryan St. Louis, was named interim head coach of the Canadiens in February.
The next connection is Montreal native Kent Hughes, father to two Northeastern forwards, Riley and Jack Hughes, is the new general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.
These connections are years in the making, dating back to when all these Huskies were growing up playing in youth leagues and tournaments. The St. Louis-Hughes connection started when Ryan St. Louis and Jack Hughes were roommates in Michigan playing for the national program growing up. There, Kent Hughes, originally an NHL agent, and Martin St. Louis, a former NHL player and 2018 Hall-of-Famer, watched and coached their kids’ games together.
“Over that time, my dad just got a good understanding for Marty St. Louis’ knowledge of the game. They’re both hockey nerds, they love breaking down film,” Riley Hughes said. “I think that they had a very similar understanding of the game and agreed on a lot of aspects of, you know, the forecheck, neutral zone, all these different things.”
He added, “They’d come for a weekend and they would always be watching their teams’ games, breaking down film together. So whenever they were in town, me and Ryan were like, ‘Oh, boy, we’re gonna have to watch a lot of video in here.’”
It was Kent Hughes’ decision to hire Martin St. Louis as interim head coach earlier this year.
“None of this probably ever would have happened if Jack and Ryan weren’t roommates, and one of them didn’t make a national program. It’s just kind of funny how things work out,” Riley said.
The number of connections between the Huskies and the Canadiens is certainly bizarre. For Jordan Harris, those connections played to his favor when he arrived in Montreal, according to his former teammate, Riley Hughes.
“He’s playing in the NHL and his teammate’s dad is the head coach and his other teammates’ dad is the general manager. So he kind of lucked out in that regard because he doesn’t need to get comfortable,” Riley said. “He already knows his coach and his general manager. So it’s just getting to know the players now, which is the easiest part, which is nice for him.”
Hughes also noted that Harris had played under his father before, when he was a teenager.
Drafted by the New York Rangers in the seventh round of the 2018 draft, Riley will not have the fortune of adding to the Huskies-Canadiens connection—for now. Jack and Ryan, however, still have a chance. Jack is projected to be selected in the late first or second round of the 2022 draft, which happens to be located in Montreal. The Canadiens have two first round picks in this year’s draft, including the first pick overall.
When asked if there would be any hard feelings if his dad doesn’t draft him, Jack laughed and said, “No.”
Riley mentioned that Jack asked his father if he would draft him, and his father jokingly said, “No chance. I know way too much about you to have you on my team.”
Riley also explained that he hopes Jack is not drafted by the Canadiens. “I’m sure if I get a pick and he’s the best player available, obviously, I’d want to draft him. He’s gonna help our team the most but it’d be too much pressure on a young kid,” he said. “Especially with Montreal’s media, and being a first round pick is enough [pressure] on its own. And if your dad’s also the GM, it’s just too much for young kids. So I don’t think you’ll be seeing him wearing a Canadien sweater.”
Northeastern, with several notable athletes eyeing the big leagues, has made its NHL pipeline as strong as ever. And the Canadiens’ substantial connections with the Huskies is likely to bring about an uptick in the number of Montreal jerseys around campus.