MONTREAL – Tomas Plekanec
is in Montreal to stay and that’s no accident.
Just a few weeks from the start of training camp and busy training in the Czech Republic, Plekanec is ready to pick up where he left off last season when he piled up a career-best and team-high 70 points.
“I’m ready to go. I’ve been on the ice with my local team here since August,” said Plekanec from his home in Kladno. “I didn’t change much this summer and stuck with my same preparation since last season went pretty well for me.”
That’s putting it mildly. Despite staring down the barrels of unrestricted free agency and coming off an un-Pleky-like 39-point haul in 2008-09, Plekanec erupted with a .37 points-per-game increase, the ninth biggest bump in the NHL last season just ahead of the Sedin twins.
Armed with his new six-year deal and with the weight of the world now off Plekanec’s shoulders, how could the 27-year-old center not be breathing a sigh of relief heading into his ninth NHL campaign?
“Anyone who thinks I’m going to sit back and relax now that I have a long-term deal doesn’t know me very well,” warned Plekanec. “The contract won’t change anything for me. Last season was last season. It won’t matter once this season starts. I’ll have to prove myself all over again. We all will.”
While much of the offseason talk has been about the Canadiens’ goaltending situation, Plekanec has another key to the team’s season on his mind heading into camp.
“Having Andrei [Kostitsyn] bounce back will be huge for this team. We need him to play at the top of his game,” explained Plekanec, who has almost exclusively played with Kostitsyn over the last two seasons. “I know what Andrei can do and we shouldn’t forget that he was injured last year. If he can come back strong, we’ll have two scoring lines and be even more dangerous this year.”
With pundits everywhere penciling in the Habs for yet another dog fight for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, Plekanec sees it as business as usual for the Canadiens.
“To me it’s all about what the 22 guys in the room think,” affirmed the centerman, who has kept in touch with a few of his teammates over the summer like his wingman Michael Cammalleri. “We saw last year the way our group came together. People can make all the predictions they want, but the season still has to be played. We know we can do it and it’s up to us to build on what we accomplished last year. I believe in this group and these guys are all that matters to me.
“Being overlooked again is just more motivation for us,” continued Plekanec. “We’re used to proving people wrong. The experience we gained from the playoffs was amazing. People on the outside have no idea how big that was for us. We’re a different team now.” Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.READ ALSO2010-11 season preview - Andrei Markov 2010-11 season preview - P.K. Subban 2010-11 season preview - Tom Pyatt 2010-11 season preview - Scott Gomez 2010-11 season preview - Brian Gionta 2010-11 season preview – Michael Cammalleri