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.