Texier making history.
19 ìàÿ 2019 ãîäà. iihf.com. by Andrew Podnieks
came before him. Twelve players who have appeared in an NHL game were
born in France. Three were really Canadian – Maxime Sauve, Paul
MacLean, Pat Daley – so the true number is nine.
The most famous are surely Philippe Bozon and Cristobal Huet. Andre
Peloffy is retired, and six are active – Stephane DaCosta, Antoine
Roussel, Xavier Ouellet, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Yohann Auvitu, Kalle
And then there is Alexandre Texier. As of 5 April 2019, he is lucky
number 13. Born in Grenoble, the 19-year-old is already important in
French hockey because he is the first from his country to be drafted
out of the domestic league, the Ligue Magnus.
Two years ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected him 45th overall, and since then his career has taken off.
“It’s great for the French league, but for me I just want to play in
the NHL,” Texier began. “It’s great for the young guys in France. You
have to follow your dream. But you have to work hard, no matter how
much talent you have.”
Texier played for the Grenoble Bruleurs de Loups, the same team his
father played for 30 years ago. But after being drafted he moved to
Finland to accelerate his development. He put on weight and gained
strength and worked on skills and every aspect of his game.
For two years Texier played for KalPa Kuopio, scoring 63 points in 108
games between 2017 and 2019. He led the team in scoring in that second
year, and after the season that’s when things started to take off.
Because the European regular season finishes much earlier than the NHL,
Columbus signed him just a couple of months ago and assigned him to
their AHL team, the Cleveland Monsters. It was a welcome, but
completely unexpected, promotion.
“I started the year in Finland and just wanted to get better with every
game,” Texier said. “I didn’t have any special expectations, just play
a physical game. I didn’t want to think too much.”
Whatever adjustments he may have had to deal with – smaller ice, more
physical game, new culture – he made them immediately. In seven games
with the Monsters, he scored five goals.
“I cannot compare between Finland and the AHL,” he continued. “It’s
different hockey. There are a lot of young guys in the AHL, so I tried
to keep things simple.”
Impressed, GM Jarmo Kekalainen called him up to the big club, and on 5
April he was in the line-up for a road game against the Rangers at
Madison Square Garden in New York. The team won, 3-2, in a shootout,
and Texier had 11:49 of ice time.
A day later, in Ottawa, he scored his first goal. It came on a
two-on-one, and it was an international goal. That is, Dane Oliver
Bjorkstrand made the pass to the Frenchman Texier, who ripped a nice
shot past Swedish goalie Anders Nilsson.
“I was so happy to play in that first game,” he smiled. “My family was
there, and the next game I scored. The puck is on my wall now. It was a
great experience for me.”
Texier relishes his past and is proud of what he’s done, but it’s clear
his ambitions are far greater. What’s done is done, and it’s the future
to which he sets his sights. That means keeping France in the top level
of the World Championship, and becoming an even better player in the
NHL next season.
“It was a great year for me this year,” he said, “so I’m happy, but now
I’m here at this World Championship and this is my focus. The work
comes first, if you want to play in the NHL. This is the first step for
me, but it’s going to be hard. I have to prepare and be ready for next
year. I have to be way better, on the ice and off the ice. I have to
work on my shot, on my skills, my physical game, everything. This is
just the beginning.”