Canadiens agree to terms on a two-year contract with Alex Galchenyuk

Posted on 30 July 2015 | Comments Off

MONTRÉAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Thursday that the team has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with forward Alex Galchenyuk (2015-16 2016-17). “We are very pleased to have reached a two-year agreement with Alex Galchenyuk. Alex is a young forward constantly improving and who has contributed to the success of the Club since joining the NHL three seasons ago. Despite his young age, he has gained valuable experience through 193 regular-season games and 22 playoff contests. He shows maturity and fits in well within our young players development philosophy. Alex is an integral part of our core of forwards and we are confident in his ability to continue to improve his game,” said general manager Marc Bergevin. Galchenyuk, 21, played 80 games with the Canadiens in 2014-15. He set personal highs in goals (20), assists (26) and points (46). Three of his goals were tallied on the powerplay and scored one winning goal. The 6’01’’, 198-lbs forward maintained a +8 differential and was assessed 39 penalty minutes, while maintaining an average of 16:25 of ice time per game. Galchenyuk added four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and a +1 differential in 12 playoffs contests. Since making his NHL debut in 2012, Galchenyuk has played 193 regular season games with the Canadiens. He has notched 104 points (42 goals, 62 assists), including six powerplay goals and five game-winning goals. He displays a +10 plus/minus differential and was assessed 85 penalty minutes. He has added 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 22 career playoff contests in the NHL. Native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Galchenyuk was selected in the first round by the Canadiens, third overall, at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Bruins-Canadiens rivalry takes centerstage at 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium

Posted on 29 July 2015 | Comments Off

NEW YORK -- Representatives from the National Hockey League, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, New England Patriots, National Hockey League Players' Association and Bridgestone gathered today at Gillette Stadium to detail plans for the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. In January, the NHL announced that the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will feature the Bruins and Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Year's Day, 2016. The event will be televised live on NBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports at 1 p.m. ET. When these long-time rivals meet, Boston will become the first Club to host the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® for a second time, after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime of the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Fenway Park. It will mark the first time the Canadiens will play in the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, and just the second time a Canadian-based NHL team will play in the game, following the Toronto Maple Leafs' appearance in 2014. "After more than nine decades and more than 900 regular-season or playoff games between these great rivals, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will add to the legend of their competition in a unique way," National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "We couldn't be happier that our third Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® between 'Original Six' teams will take place at Gillette Stadium, home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots." Information on an exclusive ticket pre-sale for Bruins season-ticket holders, Canadiens season-ticket holders and Patriots season-ticket holders will be sent to those groups by each club in the coming days. This opportunity is for a limited number of tickets to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. Information regarding ticket availability for the general public will be released at a later date. Additionally it was announced today that legendary players from both the Bruins and Canadiens will participate in a special alumni game at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 31, a day prior to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®. Fan-favorites will return to the ice to represent these historic organizations one more time and revive the history this great NHL rivalry. The special pre-sale package offering is a ticket to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® and a ticket to the Dec. 31 alumni game. "The Boston Bruins are honored to once again host the Winter Classic," Delaware North Chairman and Boston Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs said. "Gillette Stadium is a magnificent setting for this storied rivalry between the Bruins and Canadiens, and the NHL could not have delivered a better matchup for our fans. We look forward to a great game." "The Boston Bruins are one of our oldest rivals and the history between our two clubs is unparalleled," said Canadiens Owner, President, and CEO, Geoff Molson. "They were our logical opponent for our Centennial game in December 2009, and to make history together once more by returning to hockey's roots in an outdoor setting is something everyone throughout our organization is greatly anticipating. That the setting for the game will be Gillette Stadium, home to an iconic franchise like the New England Patriots, only adds to what we're certain will be an incredible and memorable atmosphere for players and fans alike." The Bruins and Canadiens have faced off 729 times during the regular season, tied for the most head-to-head meetings by any two teams in NHL history (Chicago-Detroit). Their 177 head-to-head playoff games and 34 postseason series also are the most in League history, while their nine head-to-head Game 7s lead all teams in North American major professional sports (includes MLB, NBA and NHL). The 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will showcase a number of the top players in the NHL. Four Bruins players remain from the team that faced off against the Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010: captain Zdeno Chara forward David Krejci, goaltender Tuukka Rask and forward Patrice Bergeron, who at the 2015 NHL Awards won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the League's top defensive forward for the third time in four years. Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was an historic four-time winner at the 2015 NHL Awards, capturing the Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, Vezina Trophy and a share of the William M. Jennings Trophy. Price, who became the first goaltender ever to sweep these four awards in the same season, will be joined by teammates P.K. Subban, and Max Pacioretty as well as Lynnfield, Mass.,-native Brian Flynn. "Showcasing this great rivalry between two Original Six clubs with the Bridgestone Winter Classic® on New Year's Day, will make for a very memorable game for the players as well as the many sports fans in attendance at Gillette Stadium and those watching on TV," said Steve Webb, NHLPA Divisional Player Representative. Gillette Stadium, home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, is New England's premier sports, entertainment and event venue. Since it opened in 2002, the 68,756-seat stadium has regularly hosted marquee sporting events, including three of the last four AFC Championship games, as well as the largest concert tours in the U.S. "It is a true honor and privilege to host the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®," New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, we have been fortunate to host many special and memorable events. We are thrilled that the NHL and the Bruins wanted to bring a Bruins-Canadiens NHL Winter Classic to our stadium." The Bridgestone brand, the Official Tire of the NHL and NHLPA, returns as title sponsor for the seventh consecutive event. In less than a decade, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® has become a major event on the North American sporting calendar, with a tradition of excellence, passion, excitement and fun for those in attendance and watching from home. Five of the six most-watched NHL regular-season games in the U.S. since 1975 are Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® games. The 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® remains the largest audience ever for an NHL regular-season game in Canadian broadcast history. "The 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at Gillette Stadium marks the seventh year the Bridgestone brand will serve as title sponsor of this great event, and with each passing year it continues to excite and impress all of us at Bridgestone," said Phil Pacsi, Vice President of Sports/Events Marketing and Training at Bridgestone Americas. "This game is something every hockey fan looks forward to, and Bridgestone is proud to be involved with this year's Original Six match up." NHL Network™ and NHL.com will provide extensive coverage live from the event leading up to and after the game. NHL Social™ will have exclusive coverage on all social platforms, including the use of the hashtag #WinterClassic. Additionally, the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will be available live via NBC Sports Live Extra and Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE. Author: NHL Public Relations

Subban surprises youth group in Toronto

Posted on 29 July 2015 | Comments Off

TORONTO — Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has always taken pride in helping others, even long before he reached the NHL in 2010. "When he was younger, a kid, he always gave away his lunch," his mother, Maria Subban, said Tuesday. "He would say, 'Mom, they don't have anything to eat.' He was always looking out for other kids." A group of 110 children from Toronto's Jane and Finch area recently competed against a group of Americans, organized and supported by performer Pharrell Williams, in "Jeopardy" trivia. The Canadians won the event, and Subban and his family felt they should be rewarded. So he gathered the victors, who are attending a summer camp called Success Beyond Limits (SBL) at York University and, along with some assistance from Gatorade, gave them prizes. "I'm from Toronto, so whenever I can give back to communities here, I do," Subban said. "I know I play in Montreal and obviously I give back to Quebec and the city of Montreal a lot, but every now and then you have to remember this is my hometown. Even though I didn't grow up in Jane and Finch, I had a lot of friends and family members who lived in this area." Subban's sister Nastassia gathered the kids in a large meeting room and showed them a highlight video of her brother's career. Then she announced that P.K. was sorry he was unable to attend, but she had a video message from him. Halfway through the video, P.K. entered the room, much to the delight of the kids who immediately began to cheer wildly and chant, "P.K.! P.K.! P.K.!" Muskam Muhibullah, a 14-year-old who moved to Canada two years ago from Afghanistan, admitted she is not a hockey fan but was looking forward to meeting Subban. "I did not know who he was, but now I do," Muhibullah said. "When they announced he was not [going to] be here today, I was a little disappointed. But here we go, he is here, and I am happy. It was a thrill to meet him." Subban told the kids how proud he was of their accomplishment and commitment to the summer program, and then gave them gifts which, among other things, included a P.K. Subban T-shirt. Then the group gathered for a selfie with the hockey star. Subban, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 2013, said to be able to give the kids gifts and pat them on the back while hoping to give them a sense of direction at a critical time in their lives was uplifting. Subban, his mother, and two sisters (Natasha and Nastassia) were on hand and hope the P.K. Subban Foundation can accomplish much more in the future to help kids. "It is a family project," Subban said. "Everything is about teamwork. That's what we're trying to teach these kids. A lot of my success has come through teamwork and family supporting me." Subban said he knows a lot of the kids he spoke to Tuesday will face tough choices in their teen years. He had a message for them. "Life is all about making the right decisions," said Subban, who is entering his sixth season with the Canadiens. "Some people get a second chance when they made the wrong decisions, but we're trying to give these kids the opportunity to make the right decisions in life. It is a sensitive age once they reach high school. They are going from being kids into being young adults, and around that time is when you are held responsible for your actions. It can hit you in the face pretty hard." He said one of his missions is to try to open the eyes of the children he meets to what is available for them. "I have been very lucky to have a support system from my parents to my brothers and sisters, and that is what I fell back on when I fell on rough times and adversity," Subban said. "Some of these kids don't have that unfortunately, so we try to teach them how to stay positive, remain focused and about goal-setting and team work. We're teaching them the socials skills they can use in the world today. If you can't work with your peers, you're not going to go too far." Author: Mike Brophy | NHL.com Correspondent

Subban surprises youth group in Toronto

Posted on 29 July 2015 | Comments Off

TORONTO — Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has always taken pride in helping others, even long before he reached the NHL in 2010. "When he was younger, a kid, he always gave away his lunch," his mother, Maria Subban, said Tuesday. "He would say, 'Mom, they don't have anything to eat.' He was always looking out for other kids." A group of 110 children from Toronto's Jane and Finch area recently competed against a group of Americans, organized and supported by performer Pharrell Williams, in "Jeopardy" trivia. The Canadians won the event, and Subban and his family felt they should be rewarded. So he gathered the victors, who are attending a summer camp called Success Beyond Limits (SBL) at York University and, along with some assistance from Gatorade, gave them prizes. "I'm from Toronto, so whenever I can give back to communities here, I do," Subban said. "I know I play in Montreal and obviously I give back to Quebec and the city of Montreal a lot, but every now and then you have to remember this is my hometown. Even though I didn't grow up in Jane and Finch, I had a lot of friends and family members who lived in this area." Subban's sister Nastassia gathered the kids in a large meeting room and showed them a highlight video of her brother's career. Then she announced that P.K. was sorry he was unable to attend, but she had a video message from him. Halfway through the video, P.K. entered the room, much to the delight of the kids who immediately began to cheer wildly and chant, "P.K.! P.K.! P.K.!" Muskam Muhibullah, a 14-year-old who moved to Canada two years ago from Afghanistan, admitted she is not a hockey fan but was looking forward to meeting Subban. "I did not know who he was, but now I do," Muhibullah said. "When they announced he was not [going to] be here today, I was a little disappointed. But here we go, he is here, and I am happy. It was a thrill to meet him." Subban told the kids how proud he was of their accomplishment and commitment to the summer program, and then gave them gifts which, among other things, included a P.K. Subban T-shirt. Then the group gathered for a selfie with the hockey star. Subban, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 2013, said to be able to give the kids gifts and pat them on the back while hoping to give them a sense of direction at a critical time in their lives was uplifting. Subban, his mother, and two sisters (Natasha and Nastassia) were on hand and hope the P.K. Subban Foundation can accomplish much more in the future to help kids. "It is a family project," Subban said. "Everything is about teamwork. That's what we're trying to teach these kids. A lot of my success has come through teamwork and family supporting me." Subban said he knows a lot of the kids he spoke to Tuesday will face tough choices in their teen years. He had a message for them. "Life is all about making the right decisions," said Subban, who is entering his sixth season with the Canadiens. "Some people get a second chance when they made the wrong decisions, but we're trying to give these kids the opportunity to make the right decisions in life. It is a sensitive age once they reach high school. They are going from being kids into being young adults, and around that time is when you are held responsible for your actions. It can hit you in the face pretty hard." He said one of his missions is to try to open the eyes of the children he meets to what is available for them. "I have been very lucky to have a support system from my parents to my brothers and sisters, and that is what I fell back on when I fell on rough times and adversity," Subban said. "Some of these kids don't have that unfortunately, so we try to teach them how to stay positive, remain focused and about goal-setting and team work. We're teaching them the socials skills they can use in the world today. If you can't work with your peers, you're not going to go too far." Author: Mike Brophy | NHL.com Correspondent

IceCaps Unveil New Jerseys

Posted on 29 July 2015 | Comments Off

PRESS RELEASE ST. JOHN’S (July 29, 2015) – The St. John’s IceCaps today unveiled new jerseys for the team’s first season as the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, during an event at Jack Byrne Arena in Torbay. The new jerseys – modelled by IceCaps President and CEO Danny Williams and new head coach Sylvain Lefebvre – are virtually identical to the ones currently worn by the Montreal Canadiens but feature the revised, original IceCaps logo with Canadiens logos on each shoulder. The rest of the uniform: socks, pants, gloves and helmets, are the same style as worn by the Canadiens. Today’s reveal was done after a practice at the Montreal Canadiens Alumni/Heart and Stroke Foundation, Newfoundland and Labrador hockey school and featured Canadiens alumni Richard Sevigny, Sergio Momesso, Gilbert Delorme and Gaston Gingras, as well as school participants. “With the unveiling of these sharp, clean, classic-looking jerseys today, the IceCaps have taken another tangible step in cementing our bond with the Montreal Canadiens,” said IceCaps President and CEO Danny Williams. “There was never really a doubt in our minds that we would incorporate our revised logo into the elegant and world-renowned jerseys the Canadiens have proudly worn for almost a hundred years. It was a no-brainer. We’re excited about our bright, new look and I’m sure our fans will be as well.” The IceCaps are accepting pre-orders for the new jerseys – in both the home white and away red – via the team’s official merchandise store, IceCaps Alley online at shop.stjohnsicecaps.com. Adult sizes are $139.95 and youth sizes are $129.95. All pre-ordered jerseys will also come with a free embroidered “inaugural season” patch. Jerseys can be picked up in person at IceCaps Alley when they arrive in October. In other IceCaps news, on Saturday, August 1st season-ticket holders can visit Mile One Centre, view the new jerseys and select season seats in person from 10 a.m. until noon, during an exclusive, one-time-only event.

A meaningful journey

Posted on 28 July 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Every summer, Alex Galchenyuk returns to his roots. Back in late June, the Canadiens’ No. 27 packed his bags to make the 5,500 mile trek from his summer home in Miami to the Belarusian capital of Minsk, the city his grandparents call home. Accompanied by his father, Alexander, his mother, Inna, and his sister, Anna, the annual three-week trip is something the Galchenyuks – on both sides of the pond – look forward to all year long. “They really miss us, and we miss them a lot, too. It’s great to be able to spend so much time with them when we’re over there. I know they do everything they can to follow me. They know exactly what’s going on with my career and my life. They stay up late and watch all of my games. They’re so excited to see everybody and talk to us in person. It’s really great to see them smile when we travel there. They cherish the time,” offered Galchenyuk, who recently returned to Montreal for a few days to skate with kids at the Montreal Canadiens Hockey School in Brossard. “We only get to see them once a year, so we try to do as much as we can when we’re together. They do so much to get prepared for us, so when we get there we try to show them respect in return by taking them out and showing them a good time.” This time around, that included a family trip to a local hibachi restaurant, which, at the time, was a culinary experience Galchenyuk’s grandparents hadn’t tried before. “The concept of people cooking in front of them was definitely new for them. They had a bunch of fun with us that night. Stuff like that really made the trip special, having the whole family in the same place,” mentioned Galchenyuk, who gave the hibachi chef a hand with some of the food preparation, posting an Instagram video to his account – @agally94 – to prove it. “It’s just nice to get them out of their normal schedule. My dad’s parents live at a cottage [about 17 kilometers] outside of Minsk. They’re always gardening, planting flowers or growing tomatoes. This is a good change. But, these dinners last a lot longer than they do when it’s just the four of us. My grandparents are always trying to figure out the menu and debating what to order. They always want to try new things. We enjoy it, though. That’s for sure.” Back in Belarus, Galchenyuk resided primarily at the cottage, venturing into to the city to work out at a local gym downtown, before spending some quality time with his mom’s parents after his training session. Then, he’d return to the cottage, where he’d also train on a daily basis. “There are a lot of hills around the cottage. It’s a forest. My dad and I talk a lot about conditioning work. I like running through the hills. I did it a lot out there. It actually helps me a lot with my game. Your heart rate never stays the same when you’re playing. It builds up, then it goes down. You can simulate that effect there. Running in the forest is beautiful, too,” shared Galchenyuk, who enjoys the change of pace country life provides during the offseason. “It’s kind of humbling when you settle down there. You’re in the forest. It takes your mind off things, and you can just focus on your training. I love it.” It’s safe to say Galchenyuk also loves his grandparents’ cooking, particularly a few Russian staples that he simply can’t get enough of when he finally gets a chance to head overseas in the offseason. “My mom’s dad is unbelievable at making the top traditional food in Belarus, a potato pancake that you eat with sour cream. It’s just so good. That’s probably the thing I miss most during the year. Nobody makes it like that in Montreal. I eat a lot of them when I get there,” explained Galchenyuk with a laugh. “On my dad’s side, they make traditional Russian food. I love their dumplings. They make like 200 of them before I get there, enough to last the entire trip. They’re masters at it. I can’t get enough of them. When it comes to food, my grandparents prepare for our visit all year long.” While an 11-and-a-half hour flight – and a hectic NHL schedule – generally keeps them apart for an entire calendar year, Galchenyuk is now trying to bridge that gap somewhat through the use of modern technology. “We’ve bought computers for them, and we’ve explained how they can use them to keep in touch with us in North America. We’d never done that before, but it was getting tough. We wanted to be able to Skype with them. They do so much to see how I’m doing [with the Canadiens], staying up with the seven-hour time difference,” offered Galchenyuk, who can’t say enough about what that type of support means to him. “It’s huge. I hope one day I’ll be able to bring them to Montreal to see me play live. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them. That would be something special. I want to do that soon.” Experiences like that have Galchenyuk feeling good these days, and he’s hoping that a productive summer both at home and abroad will yield positive results for the 2015-16 campaign. “I have big expectation for myself. There are a lot of things to look forward to. I’m happy where I’m at right now, and I know it will eventually pay off. I just can’t wait to get the season started,” concluded Galchenyuk, who will resume skating shortly in Miami, and even spend a few on-ice sessions working with former NHLer Darius Kasparaitis, a family friend. “My goal is to get better and better each year. I know I can produce in this league. I want to carry the confidence I built up last season into another good year. I know I can be a difference-maker and help our team. I want to be a go-to guy and be a leader. Even though I’m still young, I want to try and help as much as I can.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Road to the NHL: Brendan Gallagher

Posted on 27 July 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Brendan Gallagher has always played with heart, but he has a number of former coaches to thank for the other aspects of his game. Gallagher considers his father Ian — who was his head coach during his early years on the ice, and later his strength and conditioning coach with the Vancouver Giants — to be one of his major influences growing up. But the gutsy forward’s list of role models extends beyond family ties. "One night, when John Glen was my head coach, we were playing against a team at the bottom of the standings. We should have won easily, but the game was tied 3-3. With five seconds left, I jumped onto the ice and scored. At first I felt like a hero,” admitted the Edmonton native. “But when I got back to the bench, John asked me where I was for the previous 59 minutes. That taught me a valuable lesson. I realized that I couldn’t just show up for 10 seconds a night. I needed to play a full 60 minutes." While Glen — now working as a recruiter with the Giants — perhaps doesn’t remember that night quite as clearly as Gallagher does, he acknowledges it sounds familiar. “Brendan was always ultra competitive. What he lacked in size he made up with heart. He worked harder than anyone on the ice, even at a young age.” But it wasn’t just his time spent at the arena that turned Gallagher into the player he is today. “He grew up next to a lake,” continued Glen, who shared coaching duties with the head of the Gallagher household at the time. “Every winter, his father Ian would shovel the lake to create a rink. They could exit from their basement and be right on the ice. Ian made time to take Brendan onto the ice every day to practice his skating, do cone drills, and so on. It was a real advantage for him." If Gallagher has Glen to thank for his work ethic, then it’s another former coach, Jim Voytechek, who taught him the importance of staying disciplined — including how to absorb a hit with his trademark smile. “Jim kept me disciplined from an early age. Sometimes you want to hit a guy in front of the net and you end up taking a stupid penalty. It doesn’t matter how talented you are if you’re sitting on the bench,” underlined 5-foot-9, 182-pound winger. “I quickly learned when to defend my teammates and when to let something go, since playing selfishly could cost me ice time and the team a shorthanded goal." It was also at that same point in time that Gallagher learned another valuable lesson; how to keep playing no matter what. “I remember one time, I scored while falling onto the net and pretended to be hurt in order to gain sympathy. What I forgot was there was actually rule in place where if a coach had to come get you on the ice, you had to miss your next three shifts,” remembered the Canadiens’ fifth-round pick from the 2010 NHL Draft. “When I got up from the bench later to get back on the ice, I was quickly reminded about that rule. That’s why today, if I’m hurt, I try to get off the ice quickly. It’s the little things like that which made a difference for me.” Now working in the railway industry, Voytechek still keeps an eye on his former apprentice to this day, and it turns out not much has changed over a decade later. “When I watch him today, I see the same player I did back when I was still coaching. I remember he would always arrive at the arena and run right to the dressing room, so excited to see everyone,” shared Voytechek. “He was so impatient to get onto the ice. A lot of kids his age would be, but there was something special about him. I don’t think he knew how good he was. He was just so happy to see his friends." So happy in fact, that he would sport the same smile that his fans in Montreal — and opposition across the rest of the NHL — now know all too well. “He’s had that smile forever, but these days he uses it to get under the other team’s skin. You see him flash that smile when he makes someone miss a hit, and you know he’s got the upper hand,” added the three-time 15-plus goalscorer’s former coach. “Once he reached pee-wee, everyone thought he was going to get what was coming to him, but it’s hard to hit a moving target. He’s able to make a pass at just the right moment. He reads the game so well." It was because of his size that Gallagher often had to start from scratch when proving himself at each stop on his road to the NHL, but that’s been a challenge the 23-year-old has relished. “I’ve always had something to prove at every level. Even when I arrived in Junior, I was the 13th forward on the depth chart, but I finished my career on the first line,” concluded the Giants’ record holder for most career points and goals in the WHL. “I had a similar experience in Montreal, but I just seized the opportunity." Indeed, the most recent six-year contract extension Gallagher signed last November is proof of just that. Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.

Hab at Heart: Kevin Durand

Posted on 24 July 2015 | Comments Off

Having portrayed a wide range of characters over the years on both the small and big screens alike, actor Kevin Durand boasts a rather impressive body of work dating back to 1997. The son of French Canadian parents, Durand immediately gravitated to the sport of hockey - and the Montreal Canadiens - while growing up in Thunder Bay, ON, before eventually making his way to Hollywood to pursue his career in showbiz. Despite being 3,700 kilometers from home, Durand still represents the CH everywhere he goes. We recently caught up with the Canadian star to learn more about his remarkable passion for the bleu-blanc-rouge. How long have you been a Habs fan? KEVIN DURAND: Some of my earliest memories were just sitting on the couch with my Uncle Ron and my grandfather while they were cheering for the Habs on TV. They’d be screaming and cheering so passionately. It was incredible. That was back in the days of Guy Lafleur and Larry Robinson, so that’s where it all kind of started for me. I’m a French Canadian from Thunder Bay, so hockey was pretty much everything to us. It’s kind of a way of life. The Montreal Canadiens were my team, of course. I don’t know if it’s possible, but over the last five years I’ve found that my intense fandom has been increasing by the day. (laughs) It’s just been really tremendous to follow the journey these guys have been on since I was a kid. It’s a very special group. Did you play hockey growing up? KD: There’s always been a small French presence in Thunder Bay. We had our own French language school. We could all play hockey and skate like the wind. I think I was pretty good. I was always a giant kid, no matter my age. Whenever I hit the ice, I remember the parents of the kids on the other team always seemed to get very nervous. There were a lot of dirty looks and my ID was checked a couple of times. (laughs) People were saying that there was no way this kid was just five years old or just 14 years old. That happened the whole way through. They started me off as a defenseman, and then eventually I started playing left wing most of the time. I was a goal scorer. I liked to hit, too. I loved to play hockey. There was nothing I enjoyed more. Did you model your game after a certain NHL player? KD: When I first started playing forward, I looked around at other giant guys in the league who were playing up front. It wasn’t a super popular thing, but there was a Montreal boy who went and played for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was Mario Lemieux. It really broke my heart. I loved to watch him play. He kind of proved to me that you could be tall and still play forward. Which Canadiens players had the biggest impact on you growing up? KD: Growing up, my grandfather used to tell me all kinds of stories about Maurice “Rocket” Richard. He just loved him. I sport the No. 9 on my Habs jersey because of it. Guy Lafleur was another player I enjoyed watching. He was unbelievable. He was the most graceful and eloquent forward out there. He made the game look so easy. When I played defense, I was always watching Larry Robinson because he was such a tree of a man. He was a pretty big influence as well. The list goes on and on. At one point, I also found out I had a connection with Claude Lemieux through my father. He was a truck driver. Back when Claude was much younger, before he was playing pro, he would hitchhike through one of my father’s routes. He’d pick him up every once in a while and they’d have these conversations. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing ever, that there was some true connection between me and a Canadiens player. I loved watching Claude because he was always the one getting underneath the skin of other players. You really wanted him on your team. He was a grinder and he always showed so much heart. Every once in a while, he’d put one in the net and you’d cheer 10 times louder because he was giving everything he could out there. So, is it safe to say you’re a big fan of Brendan Gallagher, too? KD: Ever since Gally came on board with the team, my wife, Sandra, and I have constantly been saying things like – “Man, I swear that’s my son.” (laughs) We love Brendan Gallagher. I don’t think there’s a hockey player in the league who gives everything he’s got like Brendan does. He’s just a thrill to watch. Back home in Thunder Bay, was your room a shrine to the CH? KD: I always had the toques, the jerseys and an old T-shirt or two. I had a Lafleur poster, too. I also had a Claude Lemieux poster. People actually let me have it in Thunder Bay for being a Habs fan. Honestly, I still kind of do get some flak. My show The Strain shoots in Toronto. The first day I showed up at the set last year wearing Habs gear, it actually got pretty heated with some of the crew members. (laughs) We eventually had to find some sort of truce. I wasn’t going to stop wearing my Habs stuff just because I was working in Toronto. Luckily for me, the Canadiens have just been so dominant while I’ve been shooting the show that people can’t really say a whole lot. We’ve managed to find a middle ground. It’s not quite as dangerous going to work anymore. (laughs) We don’t think it would be wise for people to pick a fight with you. After all, you’re a pretty imposing guy… KD: I am, but I haven’t had to use any of that because the Habs have been playing so well the last couple of years. There’s only so much other people can say or do. (laughs) What’s your all-time favorite Canadiens memory? KD: I’d have to go right back to my childhood. My grandfather was one of my favorite people in the world. Watching hockey together was fun. He’d drink a Labatt 50 and I’d be cheering along with him. It’s one of those things that drove me to want to be great at something. I saw the way he revered players and put them on pedestals. I hope I can do something that might be inspiring to people someday, especially to kids. Grandpa was one of the biggest Habs fans I ever knew. Seeing him look up to these guys made me work that much harder and hope that I could achieve something of substance in the years to come. Given your busy schedule, how often do you get to watch Canadiens games? KD: I don’t miss a game! I have NHL GameCenter LIVE. Even on set, everybody knows that if they’re looking for the score in a particular game, all they have to do is come find me in my chair between takes. If I’m doing a really intense scene, I have to try to step away a little bit. But, I’m usually paying attention to the score the whole way. We get every game. It’s like the greatest app I’ve ever had. You love wearing Habs apparel during your workouts, don’t you? It seems like you’ve got quite the impressive collection. KD: My wife is from Los Angeles. She never grew up with hockey. Believe it or not, the T-shrits are all her! She’s one of the biggest Habs fans I know. She knows how happy they make me. She goes online, and she’s always buying the newest stuff that she thinks would look good on me. I’m wearing something to support the team every day. My favorite one features a picture of “Rocket” Richard on it. It’s blue. It just reminds me of my grandfather. I’ve worn a lot of them down over the years, though. (laughs) I have a couple of tank tops. I’ve got one of the red jerseys that I just use when I go out and play, and then I’ve got a white jersey that I had made in Timmins when my grandfather passed away. It has Richard’s No. 9 on the back of it. I’m almost scared to wear them because I don’t want to get them dirty. (laughs) I’ve just got to keep up and get all the stuff I can get because I wear it constantly. So, Sandra loves the Canadiens, too? KD: I swear to God, I think she knows more about the Habs than any of my male friends do. She kind of caught on to that passion. It’s interesting, though. There was a point in time when I found it hard to watch hockey for a while because I really wanted to be a hockey player. I wasn’t as deeply embedded in everything that was going on at the time because of it. But, I’m still a Habs fan. Like I said, things really ramped up over the last five years when my brain and my body came to terms with the fact that I was never going to play for the Canadiens. I was actually thinking maybe I could come in and be a goon someday, but that really doesn’t happen anymore. (laughs) Are you inclined to wear Canadiens apparel at work all the time? KD: These days, I don’t even think about it. I just wear it. It’s a daily thing. Sometimes, I’m reminded about it on set, but not necessarily in a good way. One time, this lady came into my trailer and just said some really offensive things about my T-shirt. My anger level just spiked. I turned to her and said – “Leafs fan, eh?” She answered right back – “Until the day I die.” I had to hold my tongue. I think I just walked away and said something under my breath like “Well, good luck with that.” I still can’t believe she said that to me. Do you make it a point to try and convert your co-workers into Canadiens fans on set? KD: Oh my God! So, David Bradley is one of the greatest actors I’ve ever worked with. He’s in all of the Harry Potter movies. He was in Game of Thrones. He’s also a Royal Shakespeare Company veteran. He’s become one of my best friends. He’d never watched hockey before, and here you have this 73-year-old vet of stage and film. I pulled him in and I put a Canadiens jersey on him. He’s right on top of me if I miss a game. He asks me what’s going on. He takes that place next to me along with my wife and my dogs on the couch watching a lot of those games. I also put a jersey on Robert Maillet. We did a movie together a couple of years ago. He’s one of the only men in the world who makes me feel small. Is it safe to say playing the role of Adam “Tree” Lane in the 1999 comedy-drama film Mystery Alaska was a perfect fit for you? KD: At that point in my life, I knew hockey way better than I did acting for film. (laughs) I was doing theatre in Toronto, just kind of struggling along. Then, this audition came up and they needed a relatively big man for the part. The character had three lines in the script, but I didn’t care. I was going to get to play hockey and essentially marry both of my passions in life. It was my first audition for a film. The fourth audition was on the ice. Being a Thunder Bay boy, I knew how to skate long before I knew how to run. It really was the perfect transition to film for me. We’re all still friends today, too. That doesn’t often happen in our industry. We were a team, and even though Russell Crowe had never played hockey himself, he knew what being a team was all about. I actually made “Tree” a French Canadian character with the accent and everything. I said – “Look, if you want him to be a really good defenseman, he’d be better off coming from Saguenay or Trois-Rivieres.” They had no idea what I was talking about, but then we did the dialogue. It was so much funnier with my original French Canadian accent. Tell us about the hockey-related project you’re currently working on. KD: I’m actually writing a hockey movie about a guy who’s hitting 40 and his years of playing hockey are kind of coming to an end because he’s a very physical guy. It’s just such an important thing for me because I really want to give people an inside look into the real journey hockey players go through. I’ve been writing it for a long time and I’m trying to get it right. I’m pushing through it as if I could have become a hockey player myself. It’s kind of the guy I may have become because I was more of a physical player. I think I’m going to produce it. As far as directing goes, I think I’m going to put it in the hands of someone super capable that I can see eye to eye with. I’m hoping to finish it this summer. Have you taken in a game at the Bell Centre? KD: I shot a movie there about two years ago. One of the big thrills in my life was to watch the Canadiens play against Mr. Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. I didn’t like the result that night, though. Ovi was really on fire. He was just a monster. I think that’s what really got my wife hooked, too, being there and watching the boys do their thing. Do you tend to get even more fired up come playoff time? KD: I feel that same passion all season long. I really do. But, it intensifies as we move closer to the dream. Growing up as Canadian boys playing hockey, we all dream about the day where we might be able to lift the Stanley Cup and embrace it. I want that so badly for our guys. It would mean everything. Interview conducted by Matt Cudzinowski.

A shot at redemption

Posted on 24 July 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Coming off a subpar campaign, Alexander Semin is eager to turn things around with the CH in 2015-16. On Friday, the Canadiens agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the 31-year-old right-winger, who was bought out by the Carolina Hurricanes on July 1 with three years remaining on his contract. The move north of the border marks a fresh start for Semin, who put up just six goals - a career-low - and 19 points in 57 games last season, while also amassing a minus-10 differential along the way. “I want to try [to get going again] because last year I had a bad season. I didn’t score goals. I didn’t pick up points. I didn’t play well. I want to get back to playing how I can play. I think I can help this team, and they can help me, too. I want to have a good year,” offered Semin, who boasts seven 20-goal seasons on his resume, including a career-high 40-goal season with the Washington Capitals back in 2009-10. “I like Montreal. I like this town. I like the fans here. It’s a good atmosphere. There are good people on this team. It’s a good organization,” added the 10-year NHL veteran, who has suited up for Russia internationally on multiple occasions over the years, including at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. “I spoke to Andrei Markov about coming on board. He said to come [to Montreal] and we’ll try to win the Stanley Cup.” Confident in his decision to make Montreal his hockey home for at least one season, Semin isn’t dwelling on the past, preferring instead to focus on getting his game back on track in La Belle Province come early October. “I feel great right now. I think it’s a good time for me. Carolina bought me out, but I’m not thinking about that right now at all,” stressed Semin, who spent seven seasons in the District of Columbia, before joining the Hurricanes in 2012-13. “I’m very happy to sign here. I think this will probably help me restart my career, and I’ll start to play well again.” While the former 13th overall selection couldn’t pinpoint exactly where things went wrong for him last season, he did suggest that offseason wrist surgery might have had something to do with it. That being said, Semin isn’t one to offer up excuses when it comes to coming up short on the scoresheet. “I don’t know what happened [last year]. Maybe it was the surgery over the summer. I’m just looking forward to playing in Montreal. That’s all,” shared Semin, who admitted that returning to the KHL ranks – where he most recently played for a period of time during the 2012-13 NHL lockout – simply wasn’t an option this time around. “My agent had already said a couple of times before that I wanted to stay [in North America] and play in the NHL. I’m still young. I want to play here. My family likes it here. I like it, too.” All Semin wants to do now is deliver for his new squad, and get back to doing what he’s done best for the better part of his career. “I don’t know what role I’m going to play in Montreal. That’s a good question. That’s something for the coach and Marc Bergevin [to answer],” mentioned Semin, who has racked up 238 goals and 513 points in 635 career regular season contests since making his NHL debut 12 years ago. “I’m just here to score goals and win games. That’s it.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Canadiens agree to terms on a three-year contract with Daniel Audette

Posted on 24 July 2015 | Comments Off

PRESS RELEASE MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Friday that the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, entry level contract (2015-16 to 2017-18) with forward Daniel Audette. In 60 regular season games with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix in 2014-15, the 5’8’’ and 176 lbs forward led his team in points (29-44-73). Fourteen of his goals were scored on the powerplay and he added five winning tallies. He served 64 penalty minutes and totaled 196 shots on goal. Audette added six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in six playoffs contests. A native of Buffalo, New York, Audette totals 178 points (60 goals, 118 assists) in 182 regular season games since making his juniors debut with Sherbrooke in 2012-13. He has scored 24 powerplay goals, one while shorthanded and seven game-winning tallies. He has served 208 penalty minutes. The 19-year old forward was selected in the fifth round, 147th overall by the Canadiens at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He took part in his second development camp with the Canadiens earlier this month.

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