Players and management met the media at Club de golf Laval-sur-le-Lac on Monday in conjunction with the club's 44th annual golf tournament to benefit the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation.
All 26 players in attendance hit the golf course.
Here's what some of those who stepped up to the podium had to say:
OWNER, PRESIDENT AND CEO GEOFF MOLSON
On his feelings about the 2019-20 edition of the squad
This is a team with players that really like each other, that works together, has a lot of leadership and a lot of youth, and is very fast. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone's engagement this season. We saw it last year. They know each other better now and I'm really looking forward to seeing how they'll play together.
On his feedback from the fanbase this summer
I often run into fans, and I'd say they're all excited to see our young players. We also haven't made the playoffs in three of the last four years. I think our fans want to see us in the playoffs and we're going to get there.
GENERAL MANAGER MARC BERGEVIN
His thoughts on the Habs' offseason moves
Prior to the July 1 window, you're allowed to talk to players, so we put some feelers out there. At the end of the day, we made the offer on [Sebastian] Aho, which was big for us. It didn't pan out, but we did add some pieces we feel we needed. So overall we're happy. You always try to get the perfect team, but it's not going to happen. But overall we're pretty happy with our summer.
On the competition young players will provide at training camp
A lot. We have guys that are pushing. We have guys that are turning pro. We have guys like [Ryan] Poehling, for example, who played one game last year. Overall we have a lot of guys coming in trying to prove themselves and earn a job. There's nothing better for an organization than to have a young player make a hockey club. The next three weeks will be very interesting as far as who's going to make our 23-man roster.
On the success of Jesperi Kotkaniemi serving as an example for prospects
Sitting here a year ago, I wasn't sure if KK was going to make our team. Most likely he was going to go back to Finland, and he earned a job and he stayed a whole year. I think he has progressed. The same thing this year. I don't know who it's going to be. It's one guy, maybe two guys, maybe none, I don't know. I think we have seven preseason games. It'll be fun to watch.
On trying to sign defenseman Jake Gardiner
We had interest. We made an offer. It's a two-way street. If you're interested, the player has to be interested. I can't comment on why he didn't sign with us, but yes we did have interest.
On what excites him most about the Canadiens this year
If you look back a year ago when I was standing here, there were a lot of question marks about this team. I think a year forward, this team is in good shape, not only short-term, but long-term. That's what I have to say about the Montreal Canadiens' future.
On fixing a struggling power play
After the season, we had meetings about the power play. At the end, we addressed it. The coaching staff really worked hard at it. They addressed some of the key issues. I feel confident. Sometimes learning from what happened last year - and that's the same thing, too - why I feel we're going to be in good shape this year, we learned a lot last year, and that's what I want from our players, to move forward with the positives. We missed the playoffs by two points, so those points you could get in November and December, they have the same value as in April. Overall, I think our team is excited and engaged, and we learned a lot from last year. I see a lot of positives moving forward.
On feeling any additional pressure to secure a playoff berth
For me, the pressure is a daily thing. It's making our team better. I'm not worried about that, to be honest. I know our fans want us to make the playoffs, and we feel the same way. That's going to be our first goal, but at the end of the day, as our general manager, I look at our training camp. There's phases. I will look at our first 10 games, 25 games, and see where our team's at.
HEAD COACH CLAUDE JULIEN
On his expectations for the 2019-20 season
We have a lot more experience. There are definitely some aspects of our game that we'd like to improve, like the power play. I saw some improvement in that area, especially in the last part of the season. We're hoping to continue in that direction. There's no reason to think we can't improve even more. Experience is worth a lot during a hockey season. That's what I expect from our team.
On the importance of special teams
We know just how important the power play is. It's one of the facets of our game that we really need to improve. It's a lot like our penalty-kill from two years ago. We were at the bottom of the League in that department and we managed to climb back up to the middle of the pack. We want to do the same thing with the power play. If we can do that in the first half of the season, it already gives you a better chance to pick up more points. We didn't miss the playoffs by much. I like the direction we're headed in. We have good young players who'll have even more confidence this year.
On possibly seeing Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki in Montreal this year
They'll have to do the same thing that Jesperi Kotkaniemi did last year. He had an excellent training camp and he really forced our hand. We had to keep him because he deserved to be there. If those two guys deserve to be in Montreal, we'll always make room for them. But the decision still rests on the same things. If we think they can benefit from some time in the AHL, the coaching staff and management is going to talk about it. One thing's for sure, I never saw a player take a step back when he went to play in the AHL. The majority of the time, it's productive. But if a player is ready to play in the NHL, we have to give him the chance and make room for him.
On the atmosphere at training camp this year
Having that internal competition is good. It pushes the young guys, but it pushes guys that are here too to be better. Having a good start of the season is so important. I think every team will talk about that. If you get off to a slow start, it's hard to catch up and you're playing catch-up for most of the season. If we can get off to a good start and set ourselves up well, it bodes well for us for the rest of the season.
On the Canadiens' power play struggles
It's like anything in hockey. There are a lot of other good teams that, you look at their power plays and their numbers weren't good. And they have skill and talent. Maybe some of that is you get in a little bit of a rut and can't figure things out, and then you're squeezing your sticks tighter and you're trying to change too much. We're hoping we can get off to a good start, build on that confidence and use that to go forward.
On bringing back the celebratory victory cape
We don't have anything yet. It'll definitely be something different. We're going to have to come up with something.
On his sense of urgency to win with Shea Weber
We definitely have a lot of good years left, but the reality is that there are less than before. Many players never have the chance to win a Stanley Cup. I don't want to be one of those players. I want to get there. I know it's a long process, and it gets going at the start of training camp.
On having a new backup
I think I'm someone who's easy to get along with. Goalies always have a special bond when it comes to talking about equipment or which player they hate facing. There's always good camaraderie. We'll get along well. I'm convinced of that.
On being optimistic about the upcoming campaign
Last year was a step in the right direction. At the same time, we all have to realize that it wasn't good enough. Our goal when we stood here and talked to you last time was to make the playoffs, so we failed last season. This is a year to make up for that. We had all summer to think about the difference between really two points. You pick those two points up on any given night. We feel like we have a group that's willing to take another stride forward, willing to take another step in the right direction. If we do that, hopefully we can find ourselves as one of those teams that's competing for the Stanley Cup.
On having a healthy Shea Weber from the start
It makes a difference. It makes a big difference, for sure. I'm sure he'd be the first one to tell you that. When a player has the full offseason to put in the time and work, I'm sure he's more comfortable, more confident. I got the chance to spend a little time with him in the summer, and you can see first-hand his athleticism, and the strides he makes in the gym are always pretty impressive. When he's able to put in a full summer of working on it, I think we're all excited, he's excited for what he's going to bring to our group. We definitely missed him from the start of last year, and having him right from Day 1 is going to be big for our group.
On the progress of Jesperi Kotkaniemi
I think at times last year, you forgot that he was an 18-year-old kid. That makes you excited, just how much he's going to grow and how much better he can get. That experience that he gained last year, it's going to be huge going forward. He learned a lot about himself, about the League, about what he needs to do to be a player, and we're going to allow him to play some big, heavy minutes for us. It's something that we believe he's capable of doing. We need him to be a productive player for us, obviously. I know he's really excited for the year and we're really excited to see what he's capable of.
On his feeling about the 2019-20 season
I think we all realize after last season how close we were, but at the same time it wasn't good enough. I think everybody worked hard. The future looks bright. We have some great players upcoming. It's going to be up to us to have a good camp, focus and be ready. The season will start soon, so we've got to be ready.
On his enthusiasm ahead of the new season
What we had last year and what we built, it was really fun. We had fun every night. We played for each other. With the additions we made during the summer, I think everyone will really fit into the group well. We're excited for things to get started.
On Shea Weber and Carey Price getting older
It's definitely extra motivation. They're such valuable members of the team. It's the perfect moment for us to win with them.
On his ice time
Claude has managed my ice time really well. He knows what he's doing. He had the chance to coach Patrice Bergeron. He'll find the right moments to use me.
On why he thinks the Canadiens can qualify for the postseason
Last year, I think we took a lot of steps forward. We know what we're capable of as a group. The No. 1 positive for me, to be honest, is the fact that we played in some playoff-like games the last 25 or 30 games every single game. Those last 25 or 30, every other team was winning and we had to match that. We beat some really good hockey teams down the stretch. We came up a bit short, but we did take a lot of positive steps forward. It's something to build on, so we've got take that momentum going into this year and we'll be fine.
On new players joining the fold
We got some great new faces. There's a fresh little vibe to our locker room. It's a great place to play, and they know that. They're all excited to wear the jersey and to play at the Bell Centre, and to play in front of that fan base. I think it's more everyone's excited to get going. They're not really nervous and they're pumped to get going and go from there.
On his confidence level the club can improve
I think just everybody growing one more year together. We had a lot of new fresh faces, a lot of change in the last two, three years. I think everyone's pretty comfortable now in the system, comfortable with the coaching. A lot of the younger guys are growing, they're getting better every day, and I think our older players are still really good. And anytime we have Carey Price in net, we have a chance to win every hockey game. It's on us now to go out, do our job and make sure we can get some wins.
On having Shea Weber in the lineup from the start of the year
It's huge for him. He had a tough stretch with his injuries, and to have a full summer of training, I don't think people realize how important that is for a player. It's hard rehabbing all summer and then coming back and having to restart his rehab again that second time. Having him have a full summer, starting with us in training camp and into the preseason, I think it's going be great for him and great for our hockey club.
On his advice to newcomers
I think they're all shocked at how much attention there is here in Montreal. That's kind of the same way I felt. I just try and tell them to get used to it, give them some guidance on where to live, where to go, what to expect coming to the city. A lot of guys are excited to be here. You walk into that room for the first time, you see the names and numbers, the pictures... it's a historic place to play here in Montreal. Everyone's incredibly lucky to get this opportunity. Now, we're all really excited to get started because it's a fun place to play.
On signing with Montreal because of Shea and Carey
Shea is a guy that a lot of defenseman like myself would look up to and try and take pieces of his game. Since I've been in the NHL, he's been a guy I've watched closely - what he does and how he plays. He's been a premier defenseman in the League for a long time and has done things the right way. He's definitely a great guy to learn from. Playing with him and having Carey Price behind me, those are two pretty attractive players to want to play with.
On who he spoke with after signing
I knew Max Domi a little bit. And obviously Joel Armia. I talked to Nate Thompson, another veteran guy. He reached out to me and welcomed me to the team. There were a few guys I talked to. I also ended up talking to Shea a little bit later in the summer. He's got a bunch of young kids running around, so he's got different priorities. But all the guys have been great with welcoming me to the team.
On his offseason training program
I lost 17 pounds. It does some good. I feel more comfortable on the ice. I also think the summer did me some good mentally. I'm starting from scratch again this season.
On what he'd like to improve
I want to get back to the old Charles. I'd say that last year I tried to do too much. I want to get back to what I was doing at the beginning of my career, which was taking pucks to the net and creating scoring chances. I've always said that I'm a ball of energy that's capable of bringing some physicality. I have to play that way.