Hab at Heart: Louis Morissette

Posted on 28 August 2015 | Comments Off

On sets and stages throughout the year, Louis Morissette is the very definition of the word “busy”. Though he might find that 24 hours are insufficient for one day, if there’s one thing Louis always fits into his busy schedule, it’s the Canadiens. That’s why it’s no surprise to have seen some of his favorite players making guest appearances on some of his recent projects. We caught up with the jack of all trades to talk about his love for the Habs. How long have you been a Habs fan? LOUIS MORISSETTE: I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. My first memory is being at the Forum with my father in the early 1980s. The first game I ever saw was against the Hartford Whalers. I’ve never really liked any other team. Now that I’m an adult, I like to follow the NHL as a whole a little bit more. Today I can enjoy watching a game between the Panthers and Islanders, but when I was younger it was all Canadiens, Canadiens, Canadiens. I’m still hooked on the 1986 Stanley Cup winning team, with guys like Mats Naslund, Bobby Smith and the duo of Skrudland and McPhee. Is the 1986 Stanley Cup run your most memorable Habs moment? LM: Actually, my best Canadiens memory is not necessarily related to the Stanley Cup. When I was in college, I went to McGill and lived right across the street from the Forum. My roommates and I would watch the games and when they would go to overtime, we would run across the street. There were always people who were leaving the Forum to avoid traffic or whatever. When there were two or three minutes left in a game we would run over and wait by the front doors. There was always a family leaving early, so we would buy their tickets for five bucks and walk right into the Forum to watch the rest of the game and sometimes an overtime. It was really cool. Did you have a favorite player? LM: Mats Naslund, for sure. The Little Viking. #26. He was my favorite player. Did you play any hockey growing up? LM: I’ve been playing hockey since I was five. It pains me to say this, but I’ve been playing hockey for 35 years. I was small when I was younger, very small, which is why Naslund was my favorite player. So when you played, did you pretend to be Mats on the ice? LM: Absolutely. I even had a Torspo stick like his. Were your stats on the ice basically the same as Naslund’s, too? LM: No, no, no. I was never the most talented player. I’ve always been pretty a good player, but for other reasons. My coaches compared me to Dale Hunter in terms of talent. Even today, I would say I have the same style as Brendan Gallagher. To be that kind of player, you really need to get in there and mix things up and get your nose dirty. I’ve scored a lot of garbage goals in my career. Do you have the same famous Gallagher smile when you play? LM: The attitude that I have at work is the same attitude I have when I’m playing hockey. I’ll get in your head. I’m very competitive, I love to win and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. If I have to get in someone’s head, I’ll do it. Do you still play a lot of hockey? LM: I try to play once or twice a week. Have you had the chance to play against your brother-in-law, Jose Theodore? LM: I have actually. When he played for the Canadiens, I got to play against him in a charity game. He schooled me. Amateurs like me tend to make the rookie mistake of keeping their heads down to focus on the puck. The second I crossed the blue line, he was on me. I was too busy staring down at the puck in my skates. I didn’t even see him coming. He told me I need to look up when I’m skating. Would you like a rematch? LM: I’d love another chance to play against him now, especially with his old man hips! You’re involved in a lot of different projects. Do you ever have time to catch a game at the Bell Centre? LM: I have season tickets and I try to go to a game from time to time. My son is a big fan of the Canadiens so I’ll often go with him. I live out my passion for hockey with him. Do you watch some of the games at home? LM: Yes. I don’t always watch the entire game, but I’ll usually watch the beginning and I’ll definitely watch the end of the games. Otherwise, I’ll make sure I see the highlights. I’m really into it. A bit too much, if you ask my wife. I’m in a hockey pool and everything. I work a lot and I’m always busy doing something, so sports are my outlet. When I play hockey, it helps me relax and relieve stress. It’s an escape. I’m currently sidelined with a shoulder injury that will require surgery, which is unfortunate since I won’t be able to play. So you watch a lot of hockey? LM: Before I go to bed at night, I’ll always watch the highlights. Sometimes you don’t need to see the full game in order to know what happened. It’s an important part of my life and helps keep me sane. You’ve done some on-screen work with guys like Michel Therrien and P.K Subban. Do you ever get intimidated by them? LM: The most daunting thing is entering the Canadiens environment. Every time I go into the dressing room, I feel like I’m eight years old. It’s automatic, I feel like a kid again. It’s funny because I’m actually 41 years old and all the players are younger than me. And there are Quebecers, like David Desharnais. He knows me from TV. We met when he was just a kid in Laurier-Station. He looks at me and says, “Hi Louis.” For me, it was like I just met Brad Pitt. I’m always intimidated, even with P.K. I have to say that I think P.K is an incredible ambassador for the team. He understands how it works. He’s friendly and generous. Sometimes filming can take a long time, but he gets it. He doesn’t whine or complain; he just does it. I’ve worked with other players in the past that make the process seem especially long, but not with P.K. He understands what’s expected of him and he gets the job done. Are you surprised by his acting chops? LM: Not really, I expected him to be good. I was mostly surprised by his patience and availability If you could give Marc Bergevin a role to play, what would it be? LM: Ah, handsome Marc! What I’d do is try to play him. In Lemieux 24/7, I was somewhat inspired by him when developing my character. He looks good, and he knows it. Interview by Hugo Fountaine. Translated by Jared Ostroff.

Paying close attention

Posted on 27 August 2015 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – For those youngsters lucky enough to attend the inaugural Montreal Canadiens Goalie Camp, spending quality time with Stephane Waite surely provided a memorable learning experience. Sixty kids aged seven to 15 hit the ice – and soaked up valuable knowledge in the classroom – under the watchful eye of the Habs’ goaltending guru and a talented group of professional coaches during the three-day program at the Bell Sports Complex, which also included off-ice instruction in goalie-specific conditioning, stretching and warm-up techniques. “There are a lot of things that I’d like the kids to understand, but the two most important things are focusing on details and working hard. That’s the best way to get better at something. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun while you’re improving. It’s important to have fun, but focusing on the right things and working hard is what will make you better every single day,” offered Waite, who boasts two Stanley Cup titles on his resume, having claimed hockey’s top prize with the Chicago Blackhawks in both 2010 and 2013, before joining the CH two years ago. “That’s also how you go about developing good habits, because bad habits are the worst thing that can happen to a goalie. They follow them into games. Sometimes, goalies only realize they’re doing something wrong when it’s too late – in Bantam, Midget or even in Junior. That’s why I spend so much time in camps teaching young kids that details matter.” With that in mind, Waite afforded campers the opportunity to take part in valuable "chalk talks" prior to strapping on their gear on the South Shore. In addition to expanding upon a variety of goaltending principles, the Sherbrooke native also treated his pupils to a video session featuring clips of Carey Price plying his trade in a host of different game situations. Veterans Tomas Plekanec and Alexei Emelin, prospects Zachary Fucale, Nikita Scherbak, Sven Andrighetto and Stefan Fournier, and newcomer George "Bud" Holloway, even stopped by for a visit on ice, offering up some words of encouragement to their young fans. “The goaltending position is such a fun position because there are so many different things involved. Most people have never played goal, so they don’t understand that. They probably think that stopping a puck is easy. But, there’s a lot more to it. That’s why experiences like these are fun for kids. It’s good for them. They’re going to learn so much. If they remember even half of what they’re being taught, I think that’s perfect. They’ll keep improving year after year,” mentioned Waite, who also runs a goaltending school of his own every summer, setting up shop in Sherbrooke and Terrebonne. “These camps are good for me, too. They bring me back to basics like game preparation and positioning. But, I really love to share [my knowledge] with kids. I like to see their enthusiasm.” LaSalle resident Eric Paradis enrolled his 10-year-old son, Samuel, in the camp shortly after learning that Waite would be on site. “When we found out that the Canadiens were hosting a camp for goalies only – and that Stephane would be there – it was a big thing for Samuel and for me, too. That was worth the price of admission. It was a no-brainer. He’s Carey’s coach, and my son absolutely loves the way he plays the game,” offered Mr. Paradis, who is a goaltending coach in his own right in his part of town. “I want him to enjoy the experience, to get better at the position and to understand work ethic. It’s been great to see Stephane work so closely with the kids. He takes the time to stop and correct them when they’re a little bit off. That’s what goaltending is all about, repeating things again and again the right way.” For their part, organizers Stephane Verret and Angelo Ruffolo couldn’t be happier with the response to the brand new venture, which they believe will ultimately be the start of something very, very good. “Having that type of quality coaching available, you don’t get that with a team every day during the regular season. To have the opportunity to be on the ice with a guy like Stephane is huge. He’s giving kids the chance to learn the best possible techniques and giving them the best advice out there. It’s great all around, even for the parents. They can feel confident knowing their kids are getting a top-notch experience with us,” offered Ruffolo, who was pleased to see both locals and those living abroad embrace the idea of a position-specific program, and in some cases make long treks to Quebec just to participate. “Even with school starting up soon, we had people travel from places like Alberta, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and parts of the United States. We’ve had a chance to meet all kinds of kids from a variety of areas and different communities. This really is the first step towards establishing similar camps that we have in mind down the road. It's definitely opening up some doors.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Go west, young man

Posted on 27 August 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Sunny Southern California has provided Greg Pateryn with the perfect training ground over the last three months. The 25-year-old defenseman, who is wrapping up his second full summer in the Golden State, headed west shortly after the season to join his fiancée, Stefani, who is based in Laguna Hills, about 30 minutes outside of Anaheim. “At the beginning of the summer, I started working out at a gym in Irvine called STACK Velocity Sports Performance with my trainer, PJ Nestler. There are a handful of guys working out at the facility. I actually do some day-to-day work with [former Habs rearguard] Bryan Allen. He lives in the area, so I see him quite a bit. I’ve really been focusing on improving my foot speed, my quickness, my transition and my lateral movement. That’s something we talked a lot about before we started,” offered Pateryn, who played 17 regular season games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, before getting his first taste of NHL postseason action back in April. “PJ broke down the mechanics behind it all. He made sure my hips were moving the right way. That’s the first thing that needs to be able to work correctly. If your body doesn’t move properly, it’s pretty hard to change direction and respond quickly to things. Building off of that, we’ve also been working on power, explosiveness, endurance and just staying strong, in general.” Four weeks ago, the University of Michigan grad laced up his skates for the very first time since early May, joining a bevy of NHL veterans and young guns alike for daily workouts at The Rinks Anaheim ICE, the Ducks’ official training facility. “When you first get out there, the focus is really on your edges, your stickhandling and your shooting. At that point, you’re just trying to get a feel for the ice again. Over the last few weeks, the skates have really picked up, though. More and more guys from the Ducks have been coming back to town and skating with us, so the skates get better and better as the summer goes on,” mentioned Pateryn, whose skating partners include Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Nesterov, Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, Joffrey Lupul and Sami Vatanen, among others. “I’m always picking up tips along the way. Guys are giving you pointers while you’re doing drills. We have a good mix of players. Every little bit of help counts. It all can translate to your game in one way or another down the road.” Before getting back to the business of on-ice training sessions, though, Pateryn took a little time off to expand his horizons, heading overseas for the very first time with Stefani and her family for a well-deserved vacation. “Every summer, Stefani’s family takes a trip somewhere. This year, I was able to go. We flew to Barcelona, and it was awesome. Everyone told me that it was the perfect first place to visit in Europe. They told me about all the different things to see and do, and the different cultures I’d get to experience. They were right. I absolutely loved it,” shared Pateryn, who spent a week in Catalonia’s capital city in mid-July. “The architecture and the history behind all of the buildings is really amazing. It was cool to see the way people live and interact with each other on the other side of the world. We might've only been there for a little while, but we managed to get a lot of stuff in. It was a great experience. I would definitely go back there again.” Even though the trip was planned long before the Sterling Heights, MI native signed a brand new two-year contract extension with the Canadiens on July 1st that will keep him in Montreal through at least the 2017-18 campaign, it proved to be the perfect way to celebrate all of his hard work paying serious dividends in the long run. “Signing the deal definitely made it more of a reason to go over there this year,” offered Pateryn with a laugh. “You go through a lot of ups and downs in the game. Then, I managed to finish the season on a high note. To get that deal done and to know that the Canadiens want me around for the next three years is very gratifying. Now, it’s more about building off of what I did instead of trying to prove that I can play in the NHL and that I belong there. Heading into training camp, it gives me that extra confidence. They also know what they’ll get from me. There’s no more guessing involved for anyone. I know my game and I know what I have to do in order to keep myself there.” With that in mind, what are Pateryn’s expectations for himself heading into his fourth season in the pros – and what could potentially be his first full season in a Canadiens uniform? “I really did get more and more comfortable as last season went on. I made better decisions with the puck and better plays, so I think that’s something I want to build off of. I’m not going to try to be more offensive, though. I think with my shot and a better comfort level, that will come on its own,” confided Pateryn, who credits both Tom Gilbert and Mike Weaver as being important mentors in his development last year. “When it comes to physicality, any chance I have to finish my check I’m going to keep doing it. That’s my job. But, if I go out and start looking for guys to hit – and I take myself out of position – I can really get into trouble. I need to find that balance. I’m not necessarily going to try to be a more physical player, but when the opportunity is there, I have to take advantage of my size night in and night out.” Now that the offseason is winding down, Pateryn is trying to make the most of his last two weeks in Orange County ahead of what he hopes will be a long and productive season with the big club. “It’s been good to be able to train hard and focus at the rink for a few hours, and then head down to the water and go into the ocean for a swim. It just kind of gets your mind away from things and helps you relax,” concluded Pateryn, who plans on returning to Quebec a few days ahead of the Canadiens’ annual season-opening golf tournament on September 10th. “The summer just flew by. My plan is to still be working out and skating four or five times a week, but at the same time getting my rest, going to the beach as much as possible and getting as much sun as I can before coming back to Montreal.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Montreal Canadiens fantasy hockey outlook

Posted on 26 August 2015 | Comments Off

As part of NHL.com's offseason 30 in 30 package, fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta and Pete Jensen will break down each team's fantasy landscape. They will look at the players at the top of the ranks, an undervalued player, an overvalued player, a deep sleeper (players likely ranked outside the top 200 overall players) and the goalie outlook for each NHL team. Leading the way: Carey Price, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban The Montreal Canadiens are well-balanced with an elite player at each fantasy position and are one of two teams to have three players within my top 25 (Pittsburgh Penguins). Price leads the group and has to be the first goalie off the draft board following an outstanding 2014-15 season. I have Price No. 9 in my offseason rankings with Pacioretty at No. 17 and Subban at No. 23. Price had a historic season in 2014-15, becoming the first goalie since save percentage was added as an NHL stat in 1982-83 to have at least 40 wins, a goals-against average below 2.00 and a save percentage higher than .930 (44 wins, 1.96 GAA, .933 SV%). He's the only goalie worth selecting in the first round of fantasy drafts this season. Pacioretty followed up a 39-goal, 60-point season in 2013-14 with 37 goals and 67 points. His plus-38 rating tied Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning) for tops in the NHL and he was the ninth-best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. His 76 goals the past two seasons are tied for third with Corey Perry behind Alex Ovechkin (104) and Joe Pavelski (78). His plus-46 during that time is tied for sixth and his 572 shots on goal are fourth. He's a complete fantasy player and should be drafted somewhere in the second round. Subban is the clear-cut No. 2 fantasy defenseman in my opinion behind Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators). Since his Norris Trophy-winning season in 2012-13, Subban's 36 goals are sixth among defensemen, his 115 assists are first and his 151 points are second. He's also a reliable source for penalty minutes and shots on goal (averages 84 PIMs and 199 SOG per season since 2012-13). Make sure he's off the table before the end of the third round at your draft. Undervalued: Brendan Gallagher Gallagher finished with career-highs in goals (24), assists (23), plus/minus (plus-18) and shots on goal (254) last season. Though his power-play production hasn't been as prolific as we'd like (a combined 17 PPP the past two seasons), the fact that he averaged 2:26 of PP ice time per game last season could lead to better things this season. Gallagher should play on the Canadiens' most lethal line alongside Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec. If he can stick with them, he could have an even better season. At 23, look for the energetic forward to build off a season in which he finished as the 78th best fantasy player in Yahoo leagues. Overvalued: David Desharnais Despite maintaining a top-six role on a top-heavy offensive group, Desharnais saw his production slide from two seasons ago. His goals dropped from 16 to 14 and his assists fell from 36 to 34. Though that's not a big drop-off, most of his value comes from his assist totals and his excellent plus/minus (plus-33 over the past two seasons). The rest of his stats won't help you. In each of Desharnais' three NHL seasons in which has played at least 75 games, he has never reached the 100-shot mark (90 last season). He had 11 power-play points last season and has never exceeded 26 penalty minutes in any season. The Canadiens have a lot of solid offensive players, but Desharnais is someone I would avoid on draft day. Deep sleeper: Alexander Semin Always one of the biggest mysteries year to year, Semin has the potential to be a 25-goal scorer with the Canadiens. Semin had six goals and 19 points in 57 games in what would be his final season with the Carolina Hurricanes but he'll be out to prove people wrong and earn a new contract. Semin, 31, should end up among Montreal's top six forwards and that could lead to bright things given his immense talent. Even after last season, the enigmatic Russian averages 31 goals and 66 points over an 82-game season. Is a 25-goal and 55-point season really that far-fetched in Montreal? I don't think so, and that makes Semin worth selecting at some point before your draft concludes. Goalie outlook: Carey Price and Dustin Tokarski As mentioned above, Price has to be the first goalie off the board on draft day. Since the 2010-11 season, Price leads the NHL with 298 starts, his 163 wins are tied for second, his .923 save percentage is fourth, his 2.31 goals-against average is sixth and his 30 shutouts are second among active goalies with at least 200 starts. Even before last season, Price was one of the best goalies in the League. Tokarski, 25, was a bit of a disappointment as Price's backup last season. He finished with six wins, a 2.75 GAA and .910 SV% while allowing three or more goals in 10 of 17 appearances. Tokarski has a firm grip on the backup job, but with Price expected to start his usual 60-70 games, you can leave him undrafted. Author: Matt Cubeta | NHL.com Fantasy Insider

De La Rose, Hudon among Canadiens’ top 5 prospects

Posted on 26 August 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens' prospect pool has decent depth but lacks top-end talent. The main reason is the Canadiens have not picked earlier than 25th in each of the past three NHL Drafts, and they did not have a second-round pick in either of the past two. As a result, the Canadiens lack an elite prospect, but they have several players who have the potential to become solid NHL contributors. They were lacking in quality defensemen, and that's why the Canadiens used the No. 26 pick at the 2015 NHL Draft on Noah Juulsen of Everett of the Western Hockey League. He was the first defenseman Montreal selected in the first round since Nathan Beaulieu was picked 17th in 2011. Here is a look at the Canadiens' top five prospects, according to NHL.com: 1. Jacob De La Rose, C How acquired: 2nd round (No. 34), 2013 NHL Draft Last season: Canadiens: 33 GP, 4-2-6; Hamilton, AHL: 37 GP, 6-5-11 It is not easy to earn the trust of Canadiens coach Michel Therrien as a young player, and that's what made De La Rose's ascension so remarkable last season. The then-19-year-old was called up to the Canadiens on Feb. 2 after center Lars Eller was injured; De La Rose did not play another game with Hamilton of the American Hockey League. De La Rose does not have a very high offensive ceiling, but at 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, he plays a solid two-way game, and Therrien was not afraid to use him in late-game situations to protect a lead. De La Rose played in 33 regular-season games and 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games after his promotion, at center and wing, and he was on the ice more than 10 minutes in all but two of those 45 games. The one thing that might prevent De La Rose from making the Canadiens roster out of training camp is that he does not require waivers to be sent down to the AHL. Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16 2. Charles Hudon, C/LW How acquired: 5th round (No. 122), 2012 NHL Draft Last season: Hamilton, AHL: 75 GP, 19-38-57 Hudon could become the latest fifth-round gem for Canadiens director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins, following in the footsteps of another undersized player who dropped to the fifth round in 2010, Brendan Gallagher. Hudon, 21, makes up for his slight build (5-foot-10, 191) with work ethic and smarts, excelling at both ends of the ice. His defensive abilities were known before he turned pro last season, but Hudon was surprisingly productive in the AHL, finishing second in rookie scoring after a blazing start to the season had him leading the league in December. Hudon did this while adjusting to a position switch to center, making him a more versatile prospect. Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17 3. Greg Pateryn, D How acquired: Trade with Toronto Maple Leafs on July 3, 2008 Last season: Canadiens: 17 GP, 0-0-0; Hamilton, AHL: 53 GP, 3-12-15 Pateryn turned 25 on June 20. It has taken some time, but he appears poised to make the jump to the NHL this season. Pateryn (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) plays a sound, rugged game in his end and could be considered a stay-at-home defenseman, though he has shown offensive ability in the AHL. It could be argued Pateryn has leapfrogged 2010 first-round pick Jarred Tinordi on the organizational depth chart. Pateryn, who was selected in the fifth round (No. 128) of the 2008 NHL Draft by the Maple Leafs, would require waivers to be sent back to the AHL this season, making him a virtual lock to be on the NHL roster on opening night. Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16 4. Daniel Carr, LW How acquired: Signed as a free agent April 24, 2014 Last season: Hamilton, AHL: 76 GP, 24-15-39 Carr, 23, led AHL rookies and Hamilton in goals last season after the Canadiens signed him out of Union College. Playing on a line with Hudon, Carr was rewarded for his willingness and tenacious approach in getting to the scoring areas on the ice. The offensive abilities of the 6-foot, 193-pound left wing would be a welcome addition for the Canadiens, but he likely is a year away from contributing in the NHL. Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17 5. Nikita Scherbak, RW How acquired: 1st round (No. 26), 2014 NHL Draft Last season: Everett, WHL: 65 GP, 27-55-82 Scherbak, 19, is the type of offensive talent the Canadiens need. He arrived at their development camp in July at 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, 2 inches taller and 32 pounds heavier than he was a year earlier. A long, rangy player with good puck skills, Scherbak will likely need a year of seasoning in St. John's but could be ready to push for a roster spot next season. Projected NHL arrival: 2017-18 Author: Arpon Basu | Managing Editor LNH.com

Price, Subban, Pacioretty keep Canadiens optimistic

Posted on 26 August 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL (NHL.com) -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien likes to talk about his young veterans, the core players they are built around. Any optimism surrounding the Canadiens begins with that group. "Our young leaders have gained a lot of experience thanks to playing in big games, playoff games, and having a certain degree of success in the playoffs," Therrien said. "I think those young leaders have progressed over the past three years, and that's encouraging." Here are four reasons for the Canadiens to be optimistic: The wall in goal: The most common criticism of the Canadiens is that they are overly reliant on goaltender Carey Price. It's a fair point, but Price enters this season as arguably the best player in the NHL, an argument strongly supported when he won the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award last season. When you have the best player in the League, it's only natural to lean on him. The Canadiens have the added advantage of having that player on the ice for every minute of every game he plays. The common assumption is that Price will have difficulty repeating what he did last season, when he led the NHL in wins (44), save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (1.96), and that may be true. On the other hand, having turned 28 on Aug. 16, it's possible those numbers are reflective of Price hitting his prime. The next level for P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty: The defenseman and forward are 26 years old, and each has grown into a vital player. But have they hit their prime like Price appeared to last season? There's reason to believe they haven't, and that they might this season. Subban is coming off the best statistical season of his NHL career (60 points in 82 games). More importantly, he earned Therrien's complete trust, used in all situations and increasing his ice time for a third straight season. Subban was sixth in the NHL in ice time per game last season (26:12), but his offensive numbers and overall impact could become more impressive if he climbs into the top three with an extra minute or two on the ice this season. Pacioretty also could reach another level, although he has already established himself as one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL. Only Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (104) and Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks (78) have more than the 76 goals Pacioretty has scored over the past two seasons. Pacioretty has done this despite being the Canadiens' only legitimate scoring threat. If another emerges, perhaps free agent forward Alexander Semin, Pacioretty could benefit from the divided attention of opposing defenders. Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher coming of age: Perhaps the secondary scoring threat to take pressure off Pacioretty could be Galchenyuk or Gallagher. Better yet for the Canadiens, perhaps it could be both of them. Galchenyuk and Gallagher took very different roads to the NHL but have been following similar paths since their rookie season in 2012-13. Galchenyuk (20) and Gallagher (24) each scored 20 goals for the first time in his NHL career last season, the second straight season each increased his previous high. Gallagher, 23, and Galchenyuk, 21, are ascending NHL players who have the benefit of three seasons of experience. Their fourth season could be the one when one, or both, breaks out offensively and achieves elite status. Younger and bigger: The Canadiens began last season with nine players who were 30 or older. This season, there likely will be five players that old on the opening-night roster. There were nine skaters on the roster listed at 6-foot-2 or taller, and 10 who were 200 pounds or heavier. This season, there could be as many as 11 skaters who are at least 6-foot-2 and 12 who weigh at least 200 pounds. For years, the Canadiens were considered a small team. That's no longer the case. Author: Arpon Basu | Managing Editor LNH.com

Craig Ramsay joins the Canadiens as coaching consultant

Posted on 25 August 2015 | Comments Off

PRESS RELEASE MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin, announced on Tuesday the appointment of Craig Ramsay as coaching consultant with the Club. “We are very pleased to welcome Craig Ramsay as coaching consultant. He has an impressive hockey background, having worked as an NHL coach for over 20 years, following a playing career that included over 1,000 games played. On a consulting basis, he will be called upon regularly during the season to share his knowledge with our coaching group. Our players will also benefit from his expertise”, said Bergevin. Ramsay, 64, has nearly 40 years of experience with seven different National Hockey League organizations. He was an assistant coach for 18 of the past 20 years, totaling over 1,500 games as assistant coach, and over 150 games as head coach in the NHL. In 2014-15, Ramsay was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers. He also worked as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers (1993 to 1995 and 2011 to 2014), the Boston Bruins (2007 to 2010), the Tampa Bay Lightning (2001 to 2007), the Philadelphia Flyers (1998 to 2000), the Ottawa Senators (1996 to 1998), and the Buffalo Sabres (1986-87). The Weston, Ontario native was the last head coach in the history of the defunct Atlanta Thrashers, during the 2010-11 season. He also took over as interim head coach in his debuts with the Sabres (21 games in 1986-87), and with the Flyers (53 games from 2000 to 2001). Ramsay etched his name on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning coaching staff in 2004. Drafted by Buffalo in the second round (19th overall) in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, Ramsay spent his entire NHL playing career with the Sabres (14 seasons), appearing in 1,070 games and recording 672 points (252-420-672). He also added 48 points in 89 playoff games (17 goals, 31 assists). Ramsay had eight consecutive 20-goal seasons, and was selected to the 1976 NHL All-Star Game. He appeared in 776 consecutive games from 1973 to 1983, the fourth longest consecutive game streak in NHL history. He also won the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1985, awarded annually to the NHL’s best defensive forward. Ramsay and his wife Susan have four children; sons Travis, Jad and Brendon and daughter Tristin.

The work never stops

Posted on 24 August 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Heading into the offseason, downtime wasn’t necessarily atop Nathan Beaulieu’s priority list. Coming off a breakout campaign in 2014-15, the 22-year-old defenseman couldn’t wait to get back to work in Southwestern Ontario to continue building on a successful year that saw him steadily become a mainstay on the Canadiens’ blue line after spending the majority of the previous two seasons honing his game in Hamilton. “I took a little time off after the playoffs. My dad and I went on a fishing trip up in Northern Ontario. That’s where he’s from, so he’s got a lot of family and friends there. That’s about it, though. Basically, I got right back in the gym with my trainer, Dave Henry. He owns a CrossFit gym in London,” offered Beaulieu, who amassed one goal, nine points and a plus-6 differential in 64 regular season games last year, while averaging 15:42 of ice time during that span. “I’ve been doing a lot of the same things as before, but my focus has really been on building more lower-body strength and getting bigger. I’ve already gained like five pounds of muscle, so I’m over 200 pounds. It’s been a very good summer fitness-wise. CrossFit is a very demanding workout, so it really gets you in shape.” Back on the ice for some time now, Beaulieu has been skating at Budweiser Gardens in the heart of downtown London with a rather notable group of NHLers, including Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Corey Perry, David Bolland, Logan Couture, and former Habs forward, Brandon Prust. “It’s probably the best skate you can get around town. I could go on forever with the names of guys in our group. I’ve always been a big believer in not staying away from the ice for too long. Now, it’s really starting to ramp up, especially over the last couple of weeks. I’m out there almost every day for 90 minutes. We split the groups up into teams and scrimmage. It’s good,” shared Beaulieu, who is committed to making the most of every on-ice session ahead of returning to Montreal at some point in the next few weeks. “I’m just trying to transfer over what I’m doing in the gym and make my lower-body stronger. Skating is such a big part of the game. I even worked out with Gally for a week earlier in the month in Vancouver. He had a skills coach there, so we were basically working on everything together.” The Strathroy, ON native’s demanding training schedule, however, hasn’t stopped him from making every effort to partake in a host of charity events around the country, including one in his own backyard at the Forest City’s Western Fair Sports Centre on August 16th. “My event [the NHL Celebrity Hockey Game] was held for a girl I grew up with in my hometown, Megan Woodiwiss. She was in a bad accident back in February, and her family needed help. We tried to raise some money, so it’s all for a good cause. She’s just a bit younger than me, but our families know each other well. It kind of hit home when it happened to her,” mentioned Beaulieu, whose event ultimately raised $60,000 for Woodiwiss and her family to help with her recovery. “It was awesome to see the community come out and support Megan. Gally, Ticker and Devante made it out to play in the game. My parents, their friends and all the volunteers really put a lot of work into it, and it was a success. Hockey players are in a unique position when it comes to things like this, so it was good to be able to give back.” Now, Beaulieu has his sights set on using everything he learned last year to his advantage come training camp and on into the 2015-16 season. “It was definitely a big coming out year for me. I got to think about it a little bit but I didn’t want to think about it too much. I know there are a lot of things that need to be improved upon and I need to take an even bigger step. I’ve just got to prove that I’m able to do it and I need to earn it. I know I can give a lot more. I’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity,” explained Beaulieu, who signed a brand new two-year contract with the Canadiens on June 13th. “The contract was a big vote of confidence. I’m excited for the opportunity to showcase my talents and hopefully help the team going forward.” While his veteran defense partner – and mentor – Sergei Gonchar won’t be sporting the bleu-blanc-rouge on October 7 in Toronto, Beaulieu is adamant there are plenty of good role models for him to keep looking to for advice and guidance both on the back end and up front, too. “We’ve got a great, great core of defensemen back there. It’s a special group. But, we’ve also got special forwards, too. I kept in contact with a lot of guys over the summer. Max Pacioretty has been huge for me. We’ve had a lot of conversations. He’s a very modest and very honest person. He’s always there if you want to talk. He might not be that much older than me, but I really look up to him and his maturity. He’s already dominated in the league at such a young age,” praised Beaulieu, who has long been impressed by Pacioretty’s ability to overcome any and all obstacles in his way. “He’s gone through some of the toughest adversity you could ever have gone through. Just look at all the things that have happened in his career. He’s been through it all. That makes him an easy guy to talk to about different situations.” With teammates like that, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Beaulieu is counting down the days until he can lace up his skates for real and battle alongside his hockey brothers. “I’m excited to play hockey again and be a part of a team. When you go home for the summer, you have your buddies, but it’s not the same as going to the rink every day and seeing the group of guys you played with the night before. I just miss the team aspect. I’m excited to see all of the guys,” concluded Beaulieu. “We’re just so full of energy and full of life. We’re a fun group. We’re fast and we’re dynamic. The guys in the room all believe in our system, our staff and our process. I know they’re all as excited as I am.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Hab at Heart: Ricardo

Posted on 21 August 2015 | Comments Off

Chef Ricardo has long been the darling of the kitchen in Quebec. After making his television debut nearly 15 years ago with his show Ricardo on the CBC, the famous chef is still busy today hosting Ricardo and Friends on Global TV and Food Network Canada, in addition to having his own magazine, cookbooks, cookware line, wines, and a Web site full of recipes. When he’s not cooking up a storm in the kitchen, the renowned chef can be found feeding his passion for all things bleu-blanc-rouge. We caught up with the man behind the apron between takes on set to learn more about his love for the Canadiens. How long have you been a Habs fan? RICARDO: At home, nobody watched hockey. My father and mother weren’t into sports. We would sometimes watch hockey at family parties. It wasn’t really until I started ninth grade at a new school (College Saint-Hilaire) that was very, very into the sport that I started to like hockey and the Canadiens. During the winter we played hockey every day at lunch and every morning before school started. I was terrible. I had never skated in my life. My friends, who are still my best friends today, would joke that it made no sense that I could even be that bad and that they would need to do something about it. They started to teach me how to play hockey and eventually said, “You’ll never be good, but at least you’ll be able to play.” I became the team goon. I was always the one in the penalty box. I was trying to find a way to stand out, although that probably wasn’t the best way, but I had fun. That’s when I got into hockey. Same thing at Cegep. I started watching games at the local bar while I was at ITHQ (Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie du Quebec) with my friends. There’s a social side to hockey and I’ve always been social. I’m not the biggest sports fan in the world, but I probably am the most social. (laughs). I love anything that allows me to spend time with people and have fun. That’s why the Canadiens are so important to me. Beyond the sport, through the hockey team, there’s something that brings people together. If you watch hockey alone, it’s never the same. When I’m alone in my hotel room, I’ll still watch, but it’s not the same. You mentioned you were the goon on your team. Were you inspired by any player in particular? R: Not really. I think I was the one who actually inspired the players. (laughs) Now, I love to hate. I’m a guy who has a memory that remembers moments more than specific players. Even if you ask me who my favorite current player is, my reflex is to name my favorite three players right now. It’s like when someone asks me what my favorite recipe is. I’m all over the place. (laughs) What’s your favorite Canadiens memory? R: The Stanley Cup in 1993. I was on Sainte-Catherine street and I remember it like it was yesterday. I had never experienced a moment of euphoria like that. I’ve also watched the Canada vs. Russia game a hundred times. And the jersey retirements, too. It’s mostly the touching moments like those that make me emotional. I’d also say Saku Koivu’s return. My girlfriend had cancer and that moment really touched me. I cried tears of pride that night. It was a great example of the fighting spirit. That’s what hockey is all about. How often do you make it to the Bell Centre for a game? R: I have season tickets with a friend and we split the season in two. When I can’t go, I give my tickets away. The last game I had tickets for, my wife went with my eldest son. I was happy they could go and they were sending me text messages throughout the night so I got to live a bit of the game through them. It’s all about the ritual for us. I go with my wife and my friend and we’ll go for dinner together before the game. This year was a disaster, though. I went maybe six times. In a good year, I attend about half the games. At the beginning of the year, I look at the schedule and I’m often able to figure out whether I’ll be available or not. If not, I’ll give them as Christmas gifts to my employees to say thank you. Everyone is excited when they receive tickets. For me, it’s like winning the bronze medal. You travel a lot for work. What’s the most unusual place you’ve watched a game? R: I’m a bit boring. I’m never in unusual places – I’ll usually stay at the hotel. I’m not a big tech geek and sometimes I don’t know how to watch the game, so I listen to 98.5 FM on the app. During one of the games against the Senators in the playoffs, I could hear my neighbor in his room. We were both cheering pretty loud, just not at the same time. He was obviously cheering for the Sens, and I was cheering for the Habs. I’ll usually order a drink and some chicken wings from room service, eat my dinner, watch hockey and cheer for the Canadiens. Sure enough, we won that night, so I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote “Goodnight, loser!” and slipped it under my neighbor’s door. The next morning, we randomly left our rooms at the same time. I gave him a little smile and he just said, “I hope you’ll be in the same room for the next game.” It was pretty funny. That’s the most intense thing I’ve ever done. I was alone in my bathrobe in the hotel hallway to slide a note under a stranger’s door just to annoy him. I’ve never done anything like that. When I told my wife, she was like, “You can’t be serious! Stop exaggerating.” I still don’t know what came over me. A few years ago you worked on a magazine, Cooking with the Canadiens in support of the Canadiens Children’s Foundation. Tell me a little about your experience with that. R: I developed recipes for the Canadiens and every player I approached agreed to give me a family recipe – one that meant something to them. I have a pasta recipe from Carey Price’s family that comes from his Aboriginal roots, and I have an amazing recipe for banana bread from Mathieu Darche, who I’m still friends with today. They really were their personal recipes. I just tweaked them so everyone would be able to make the dishes. Some players gave us pictures of their families from when they were young. It was a very nice project, very intimate. There were some healthy recipes. We wanted to make sure that people who love food and the Canadiens got their money’s worth. I‘m the luckiest guy in the world. I made a magazine to raise money for the Canadiens Children's Foundation, I had barbecues with the players, I've seen them many times with their wives, and I had a relationship with the players during that season and got to know them and that made me love them even more. The team is not only comprised of great athletes, but also of great family guys. The organization has a vision that I really like. I think that's why the team is playing better. It’s the family environment. We really have a great team and not just on the ice. They’re good guys. Pleasant, generous, and funny. Even the shy guys are great to be around. I like the team even more after seeing how down-to-earth the guys are. How difficult was it to get the players out of their comfort zone? R: I didn’t have any trouble at all. They knew I didn’t want to get into their private lives. What interested me was seeing how passionate they were when they were young. They were really open and had no problem talking to us. Which current player on the team is the best chef? R: Their wives are the real cooks. (laughs) It’s really hard to say. Most of the players, like Price and P.K [Subban] are pretty good. They like good wine and they really know their stuff. They go to the best restaurants. They’re gourmet. They love fine dining, but they can work a barbeque, too. Some of these guys have pretty impressive wine collections. I can’t really say which guy would be the best. If you could choose one player to come on your show, who would it be? R: I would cook with Carey. I loved his history, his family, his Aboriginal roots. I would love to cook with him. Do you think he’d make a good sous-chef? R: Probably. I would have a lot of fun with P.K., too. He’s a superstar. I would give him a recipe, and after four ingredients, he’d already be changing it up to make it his own. I don’t think he would follow my game plan to the letter. He would be like an artist with my recipe, which is okay, too. Carey would follow the game plan. He doesn’t improvise. Goalies are more rational and organized, always in their head, very methodical. As a sous-chef, I would be more into Carey, but for a big party, or a show on TV, P.K. is the guy. What do you think about the famous “chicken and pasta” meal players always eat before games? R: It’s all about protein. Chicken and pasta does the job. I’m a bit of a superstitious guy. The players have really strict diets and their regimes are created by some of the best in the industry. All the studies show it can give you a good boost of energy. If they ate chicken and pasta before the game but ate poorly for the previous three days, it isn’t going to work. Chicken and pasta pre-game works, though. In your opinion what’s the best snack to eat during a hockey game? R: I’d go with an old classic: hockey needs chicken wings. I like spicy Buffalo wings. I eat them every game. So it’s wings, nachos, and always a cold beer. I also order mini ribs often, but cut into individual serving sizes – you have to be able to eat them with your hands. To finish the game, I have a Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar. After that, I’m happy. And of course you need some of my bleu-blanc-rouge shots! (http://www.ricardocuisine.com/recettes/3859-shooters-bleus-blancs-et-rouges) Interview conducted by Elise Robillard. Translated by Jared Ostroff.

Full plate

Posted on 21 August 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – It's been a busy summer for Tomas Plekanec – on both sides of the pond. Back in late June, the veteran centerman and his wife, Lucie, welcomed their second son, Adam, to the world in Montreal. The newest member of the Plekanec family has been a source of joy ever since, especially to his three-and-a-half year old big brother, Matyas. “It’s something different – for us [as parents] and for him,” offered Plekanec, who spent the bulk of the offseason in Quebec before returning to his native Czech Republic in early August. “They always say that it’s hard on a first-born child when another kid comes along, but it’s been amazing so far. Matyas has been really nice with the baby. It’s been really cool to watch them together.” Fulfilling some additional parental duties, however, hasn’t stopped a workhorse like Plekanec from hitting the gym hard all summer long. Before heading overseas to begin his on-ice workouts with his former club in Kladno, the 32-year-old forward visited the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on a daily basis to fine-tune his fitness level with the help of Canadiens strength and conditioning coach, Pierre Allard. “I didn’t really change anything [in my training] from last season. In Montreal, I have everything I need and I don’t need to make any adjustments. It’s great to have Pierre there working with me, too. That’s the best part. Back home, I’m still following my program, but with him around things feel like they’re more established,” shared Plekanec, who hit the 20-goal plateau for the seventh time in his career last season, finishing the year with 60 points in 82 games. “With Kladno, it’s kind of the same thing. It’s good to skate with guys you know. They’re getting ready for their season, so it’s like training camp for them. It’s a perfect place for me to get back on the ice and get ready for the season.” The start of the 2015-16 campaign might still be six-and-a-half weeks away, but Plekanec is excited to see the makeup of the CH come early October, particularly with so many talented youngsters vying to earn spots with the big club. “We didn’t make too many moves in the offseason, but I’m sure the ones we did make will help us a lot. We’ll see. Only time will tell. But, we’ve got plenty of young guys coming out of the minors or Junior that are really fighting to be in Montreal. It will be exciting to see if they can help us,” offered Plekanec, who believes the likes of Sven Andrighetto, Charles Hudon, Nikita Scherbak and Michael McCarron can easily be inspired by the success of some curernt Canadiens young guns who’ve established themselves in recent years. “Look at guys like Gally, Chucky and Beau. They all got their chance at some point. That’s a good thing for others to see. It’s going to be a good competition. I expect a lot of kids to get a good look.” As for Plekanec himself, the objectives heading into a new season remain exactly the same as they were in previous years. “I know what I’m supposed to do. I know what’s expected of me. I’m not looking at things any differently this year,” concluded Plekanec, who will return to Montreal soon to begin his final preparations for the upcoming year. “Obviously, it’s been good to have a break, but you definitely feel the season coming along soon. I’m looking forward to it.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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