The Pipeline: A conversation with Tristan Luneau
Tristan Luneau had high expectations for himself coming into this season.
Being the No. 1 pick in the QMJHL Entry Draft in 2020, he wanted to be one of the top defensemen in the league this year and do more for his team, the Gatineau Olympiques.
“My role stayed the same, but I asked more of myself. My role hasn’t changed that much. I’m still playing similar minutes as last year,” Luneau told Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show. “I was really fortunate last year that my coach believed in me and played me a lot. So, I expect a lot more this year.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound blueliner started the season off slowly on the scoresheet, going without a point. in his first six games.
He has picked it up since, and has 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in his last 20 games.
Luneau is No. 20 in FCHockey’s Winter ranking for the 2022 NHL draft, and is slotted 10th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list.
Even though expectations are high for Luneau, he still wants to enjoy the game of hockey.
“My dad was a hockey player, my mom a figure skating coach and my older brother was a hockey player, so I wanted to be like him. I thought he had a lot of fun playing and I wanted to have a lot of fun myself,” he said.
Guy Flaming: You have 15 (points) this year in 26 games. That’s almost as much as you had during the shortened season last year when you had 31 games played and 18 points. I know last year was so difficult with all the stops and starts with COVID, and I guess this year kinda continuing on the same way, but how do you feel about the way you’ve played just yourself?
Tristan Luneau: I’m happy with the way I’d played the first half. Definitely I know I have an extra gear for sure that I can reach in the second half. I’ve been training hard since the 27th here in Gatineau to make sure that I’m on top of that and making sure I’m ready for a big second half. Not only for me but for the team.
Guy Flaming: Has your role changed this year? You’re not a rookie anymore and you’re a high first round pick, a first overall pick. Do you feel like you’re being asked to do more things this year?
Tristan Luneau: Yeah, my role stayed the same, but I asked more of myself. My role hasn’t changed that much. I’m still playing similar minutes as last year. I was really fortunate last year that my coach believed in me and played me a lot. So, I expect a lot more this year.
Guy Flaming: Who got you into hockey and how old did you start playing?
Tristan Luneau: My dad is a former hockey player. He played a bit of junior. And my mom is a figure skating coach, so I guess it was a perfect match to make a hockey player. I have three older brothers, they all played. The two oldest they stopped pretty young, but my brother closest to me played junior hockey. So, I guess that’s kinda the way I got into hockey, my dad was a hockey player, my mom a figure skating coach and my older brother was a hockey player, so I wanted to be like him. I thought he had a lot of fun playing and I wanted to have a lot of fun myself.
Guy Flaming: Well with a father a hockey player and your mother a figure skater, did you have an opportunity when you were really young, did you start as a figure skater yourself? I know a lot of hockey players who had that experience when they were young.
Tristan Luneau: Yeah, I was doing a couple of plays when I was really young. It was more like figure skating plays on the ice. So I started doing that and just playing outside with my older brothers and their friends on the rink here in our house in Victoriaville. I got into figure skating a bit, but nothing crazy. I can’t do spins and stuff like that. It’s too hard for me. But she taught me a couple edges and things like that. She’s good at teaching for sure.
Guy Flaming: In any way did it make you a better hockey player having a little bit of exposure to figure skating?
Tristan Luneau: Oh for sure, I think my edges are one of my strengths. I definitely got that from her. We would go on the ice before school at 5:30 in the morning doing edges and just getting a small practice before school. Great memories for sure.
Guy Flaming: Tell me about your first year with the Olympiques. We know how difficult the off-ice stuff was with COVID and things, but on the ice did it take you long before you felt comfortable playing at the major junior level?
Tristan Luneau: Well, I think the veterans last year made it really easy for me to just fit in and learn how to play the game in the QMJHL. I started the year with a 20-year-old defenseman on my pairing and then he really did a great job to kind of show me the fundamentals of defending and playing simple. I always knew he was there if I made a turnover so it was great to start the season with him. I would say the transition between midget and junior went really well because of that.
Guy Flaming: Were you always a defenseman or at a younger level?
Tristan Luneau: I never wanted to be anything else than a defenseman. Funny enough, growing up I was more on offense than defending. But I wanted to call myself a defenseman, because I wanted to be like my idol Drew Doughty.
Guy Flaming: Why Drew Doughty? Why was he the guy you looked up to?
Tritan Luneau: While growing up I was watching a lot of hockey and those years 2012 to 2014 they won the Cup twice. And I just following the LA Kings more cause they were good. And I saw that really competitive player, he probably has the highest compete I’ve seen so far. Talking a little more with my agent and guys that know him, they always tell me the same thing, he wants to win at any cost. That’s why I really followed him and watched him a lot and I’ve always wanted to be like him.
Guy Flaming: Do you think you play a similar style? I mean he’s very offensive and likes to play the body and that physical side to his game certainly stands out. Do you share some of those traits?
Tristan Luneau: I would say the compete is something I wanna take from his game. We are different in a lot of stuff, but I think our compete is similar. Our will to win and to do everything right. I would say we are different in a lot of stuff, but we are alike in that.
Guy Flaming: Let’s talk about the draft. When I ask players about the draft, a lot of them will say they try not to think about it, because they don’t want it to be a distraction. There are other players though who tell me they wanna see where they are ranked and things like that and they use that as motivation. What about for you Tristan?
Tristan Luneau: I’m more someone who doesn’t look at it and doesn’t really give much thought to it. I have a great coach here in Gatineau, a great coaching staff, great players and teammates too. I want to focus on that and make my stay in Gatineau really enjoyable and make sure I do everything right here. What happens in the draft will happen, but if I do the right things here, then good things will happen there. That’s really my thought process right now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.