Don’t count Habs out after last year

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MONTREAL – Controversy, criticism and query marks are what the Canadiens appear to eat for breakfast lately.


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However after what they did final yr, few doubt they will deal with new challenges in 2022.

“Once I take into consideration final season, I simply take all of the positives with us,” ahead Joel Armia mentioned Monday morning earlier than the Stanley Cup finalists’ second exhibition sport towards the Leafs. “Simply to know we are able to win towards any staff, play any staff and face some adversity, too.”

But the Habs frittered away a lot of the respect they garnered of their residence province after coming again to upset Toronto in spherical one – and turned off many new followers across the league. It started a number of weeks after their surprising run ended towards Tampa Bay, once they drafted Logan Malloux and all his further baggage. The London Knights’ star had confronted authorized penalties for posting sexually express photos of his girlfriend whereas enjoying in Sweden. Normal supervisor Marc Bergevin finally needed to freeze Malloux when the OHL suspended him for six months. As that performed out, Bergevin and apologetic membership possession had been roasted contained in the NHL and out.


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Key free brokers from the playoffs bolted, resembling Auston Matthews’ checking nemesis Phillip Danault and warhorse Corey Perry. The Habs additionally misplaced sniper Jesper Kotkaniemi to Carolina, dragging their ft on a contract earlier than the Canes struck with a suggestion sheet. Bergevin gained draft picks by the transfer, however had to surrender two excessive picks to switch Kotkaniemi immediately with Arizona’s Christian Dvorak.

What Bergevin couldn’t management was the wear-and-tear on staff MVP Carey Value, who’s recovering from a knee damage and can miss camp, whereas defenceman Shea Weber’s varied illnesses have seemingly ended his profession. Paul Byron had hip surgical procedure, whereas new man Mike Hoffman, counted on for targets, is out a month with a decrease physique damage and younger gun Cole Caufield simply discovered he’ll miss every week with an higher physique damage.


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Just like the Leafs, Montreal is again within the Atlantic Division, a a lot harder slate than dealing with solely Canadian groups, the outcomes of which barely acquired them the North’s final playoff spot in Might.

However coach Dominique Ducharme seems fairly comfortable in his each day coaching camp briefings. Spirited Brendan Gallagher is now in camp and there’s a brand new line to get enthusiastic about. Jonathan Drouin, after break day with private points, is with Dvorak and Josh Anderson and there’s the return to North America of 31-year-old defenceman Chris Wideman after a yr within the KHL.

“We’ll have extra solutions tonight,” Ducharme mentioned. “In scrimmages and enjoying towards one another, you by no means get the true really feel (about how gamers are doing).

“They’re three totally different gamers on that line. We all know Josh’s energy, Jonathan’s imaginative and prescient and talent and Devo is dependable on either side of the puck. In the event that they play the suitable method, they are often efficient offensively and accountable defensively.”


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Figuring out solely a little bit of what occurred to the Habs final season, Wideman involves Montreal in awe of the historical past.

“To place it to my mates (within the St. Louis space), who don’t know hockey that effectively, it’s like enjoying for the Yankees with the pinstripes.”

Wideman discovered his profession on the rocks a number of years in the past when his destructive feedback in regards to the Ottawa Senators teaching employees had been leaked from a limo journey he and teammates took throughout a highway journey. Trades to Edmonton, Florida and time on three minor league groups adopted, earlier than departing the NHL altogether for a season within the KHL.

“It’s one thing I’ve taken full possession of, confronted head on,” Wideman mentioned Monday. “I’ve acquired myself again right here and discovered so much about life, hockey and the way shortly issues can change.”

His season with Nizhny Novgorod in Western Russia required he and his new spouse to get on a aircraft 13 days after the marriage.

“A honeymoon in Russia, that was a troublesome promote,” laughed Wideman. “However it was an incredible life expertise.”



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