Cote’s One for the Gene Pool
Talking to Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Coach Pascal Vincent about blueliner Jean-Philippe Cote, the two things that stick out in his mind about his defenseman are “leadership and work ethic.” Vincent can’t say enough about his player when it comes to intangibles. He “puts his mistakes behind him” on those rare occasions that he does make one and is more or less the glue that holds the team together. Proof of this, the coach points out, can be seen in the fact that in the two games his Captain missed last year due to injury, the Screaming Eagles were outscored 14-2.
While some of this is to be expected seeing as he is the son of former NHLer, Alain Cote, Vincent nonetheless applauds Cote for his dedication to the game especially in the off-season.
That said, all of the dedication in the world does not an NHL player make if he has nothing else, but the coach, who first saw him when he was the bench boss for the U-17 National Team, knows there is more to him than that. “90% of the time he makes the right decision when he passes the puck” and his passes are “usually on the tape.” What’s more, the defenseman knows enough to trail the play after making that pass and has demonstrated “good decision-making when it comes to the pinch.” While Vincent admits that Cote “is not an elegant skater” he rates his speed above average and his lateral movement as excellent stating that “he rarely gets beat one on one”. While his pivot easily makes the grade in the Q though, he feels that Cote will have to speed it up a bit for it to be on the NHL level. His shot, while not in the Al MacInnis category for speed is for all that accurate, and heavy. Further, the Cape Breton Captain is learning how to use his team-mates when it comes to the shot/pass and the tip. In addition to that, Vincent ranks him as excellent when it comes to keeping the puck in the offensive zone commenting that “sometimes he has to play it with his hands but if it is ringed around the boards in his direction, it usually doesn’t get out.”
Of course, a defenseman’s bread and butter is playing defence, and while the Q Coach knows that his charge “is still learning offensively” he has little doubt about the other half of his game. He rates Cote as “one of the best shot blockers in the league. His timing is good on the block and he doesn’t get fooled” off of his feet. “If he goes down, there is almost always a shot coming.” In front of the net and in the corners are also strong points in his game says the coach of the 6’1″, 210 pound rearguard. “He is very strong on his skates” and other teams know that “it won’t be a picnic in front of the net if Cote is on the ice.” He “reads the game very well” but if there is one thing that Vincent says his blueliner needs to concentrate on that “sometimes he tends to try to do too much” on the ice. He has to “stay within his game even when things aren’t going well for the team.” When asked to compare his style to an NHL player, Vincent, after some consideration, decides on ex-Red Wing defenseman, Vladimir Konstantinov stating that Cote is primarily “a stay-at-home defender who will get some powerplay time because of his good first pass and his shot.”