BROSSARD – The Habs got a boost Wednesday morning as a key player rejoined the team for his first practice of training camp.
On Tuesday, head coach Michel Therrien said that he felt the 2012-13 edition of the Canadiens were really starting to come together. On Wednesday, things took another big step in that direction as a certain turtleneck-clad center, listed as day-to-day since the start of camp, made his first on-ice appearance with the team.
“It’s great news to be able to have [Tomas] Plekanec back with us today. As we said, his situation was day-to-day, so when I heard this morning before practice that he was ready to come and join the group I was very happy about it,” expressed Therrien, on the progress of one the Habs’ most versatile and utilized players. “All the rest of the guys were very enthusiastic about it, too. It’s great that he’ll be able to get in a few practices with everyone before the start of the season.”
While Plekanec may have only gotten his first taste of practice this morning, Therrien was quick to point out that the veteran Hab has been in on every team meeting since the start of camp. He also already has a solid idea as to who at least one of his linemates will likely be.
“Plekanec is a very talented player who plays a very intelligent brand of hockey. He brings positives to every aspect of the game,” continued the Habs coach. “Last year he was missing stability on his line. This year to be able to have a healthy Brian Gionta will help Plekanec as much as Plekanec will help Gionta.”
While the Czech center is still a ways from being cleared for action on Saturday night, his progress has been encouraging as he continues to recover from an injury sustained while playing for HC Kladno in the Czech Extra Liga.
|Tomas Plekanec |
“I was just trying to pass the puck and then felt something weird in my body afterwards. It was just kind of bad luck,” said Plekanec, who has three more days to mend before the Canadiens’ season-opening tilt against the Leafs. “It’s gonna be a tough season so I want to play it smart and not just come back for two games and then have to sit back out for another two weeks.
“We’ve been taking it day-by-day since basically Sunday. I go to see the medical staff every morning right away when I get in and we make decisions at that time. It’s how things have gone so far and I’m sure we’ll continue doing it that way,” explained Plekanec, who enjoyed his share of success in the Czech league, picking up 21 goals and 25 assists over 32 games. “It was a great feeling to get back out there with the guys today. It was painful to watch them all and not be able to get out there with them. So it was good to be able to do it today, especially when we have some learning to do while we’re all adapting to the new system.”
With a dynamic skillset and the ability to play at both ends of the ice like few others in the league, Plekanec’s role on the team will continue to take shape as he keeps practicing with the team. Whatever that role resembles, it’s clear his teammates are glad to have him back.
“It’s great to have him out there. Everybody knows he’s an all-around good player, both defensively as well as offensively,” said Tomas Kaberle, who also played 10 games with Plekanec in Kladno. “He’s always been a huge part of this team and having him back in the lineup is going to be a big boost to all of his teammates, and especially his linemates.”
Plekanec will be evaluated again Thursday morning to decide if he’ll play in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage at the Bell Centre at 7:00 p.m. that night.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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