Laurent Brossoit shares the same agent and off-season training base and employs the same goaltending guru as Winnipeg Jets all-star puckstopper Connor Hellebuyck, so it probably seemed like a natural fit when he landed in Winnipeg during the off-season.
The 25-year-old from Cloverdale, B.C., signed a one-year, one-way deal worth US$650,000 with the Jets after spending the previous five seasons in the Edmonton Oilers organization, including 28 regular-season games with the big club over that span.
In 2017-18, Brossoit made 14 appearances (3.26 goals-against average, .883 save percentage) for the Oilers as Cam Talbot’s backup but lost his job when Al Montoya arrived via trade.
He had to clear waivers and a demotion to the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors ensued.
"My season was frustrating, of course," Brossoit said Wednesday on the eve of the start of NHL training camp at Bell MTS Iceplex. "I just wanted to get in the net more than I did. It’s definitely tough playing every three weeks or once a month. I felt I was working so hard that I deserved more of an opportunity.
"But you know what, it’s a business and everyone in the organization did what they felt they had to do to progress. I have no hard feelings. I ended up here and it’s a blessing in disguise."
With the departure of veterans Michael Hutchinson and Steve Mason, and Hellebuyck firmly entrenched as the No. 1 man in net, Brossoit is viewed as the obvious choice to serve as backup. His chief competition will come from fourth-year pro Eric Comrie.
Comrie, 23, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Jets earlier this month.
The 6-3, 200-pound Brossoit is built similarly to Hellebuyck and he’s also employing some of the same training and fitness techniques under the tutelage of Kelowna, B.C.-based Adam Francilia, director of development for Alpha Hockey Inc. Alpha’s Ray Petkau of Steinbach serves as the agent for both players.
Brossoit has come to depend on Francilia for guidance. The trainer also reworked Hellebuyck’s posture and fitness prior to his breakout season in 2017-18.
"You know what, it was how articulate the guy is," Brossoit said. "He’s very intelligent and explains things in such layman’s terms, pretty complex things about the biology of your body. He just gives you a better understanding of how the body works while you’re in the net and out of the net. He made it so clear that I couldn’t see it any other way."
Brossoit’s off-season program is specifically tailored to his needs.
"With Adam, it’s very specific to your position, which is what I was looking for," Brossoit said. "Before I was with Adam, I was always with very generalized workout programs in which they kinda put a blanket on everyone and everyone does the same workout, whereas he works with you one-on-one and figures out how you tick and how your body works.
"Because my body, especially, is so much different that others. I’m hypermobile, so I’m very flexible. I can get a lot of joint pain if I don’t keep up strength training, whereas most guys need the opposite. They need to stretch and stay loose, where I need strength training."
Francilia’s approach also includes an in-season program with an emphasis on dietary needs. In fact, he’s usually on the road during the regular season, stopping in on his NHL clients to act as a personal shopper, stocking up on organic ingredients before staging lengthy cooking marathons in his client’s kitchen.
When he leaves, the freezer is loaded with meals meant to last until Francilia’s next visit.
"I pay for the whole meal deal," Brossoit said. "It’s not cheap, but I’ve been with Adam longer than I’ve been with Ray. And so, I definitely notice a difference and I definitely think it’s worth the money."
All of which sets the stage for Brossoit’s next chapter. Can he make it work with the Jets?
"When you enter free agency, you don’t necessarily expect an opportunity with a potential Cup-winning team," Brossoit said.
"Usually those are the teams that are stacked with players and don’t need anyone. I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity I’m about to get."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.