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Canadiens claim Betts off waivers from Flyers

Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 12:33 PM / News

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

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Canadiens claim Betts off waivers from Flyers
The Montreal Canadiens filled a major hole in their lineup Wednesday when they picked up center Blair Betts off of waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Canadiens sorely lacked a center who can win faceoffs and kill penalties, so when Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren unexpectedly put Betts on waivers Tuesday, it could not have been a better fit to fill that need for Montreal.

Betts, 31, led Flyers forwards last season in faceoff percentage (50.3 percent) and shorthanded ice time per game (3:37). Plus, at a listed 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Betts adds some much needed beef to a Canadiens forward group lacking in size.

The Canadiens were counting on rookie hopeful Andreas Engqvist to perhaps fill that fourth-line center role, but his performance in training camp has been less than stellar and entering the regular season with him in that role would have represented a major question mark.

Betts, who has played in nine NHL seasons for the Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and the Flyers, represents far more of a proven commodity.

There is a link for Betts with the Canadiens as assistant coach Perry Pearn served the same role with the Rangers while Betts played there. He was also a teammate of Canadiens center Scott Gomez for two seasons in New York.

The Canadiens open the season Thursday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs.
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[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday