MONTREAL – For most Canadians, July 1 is a time for kicking back and relaxing with friends and family. Just don’t tell that to Pierre Gauthier.
The Canadiens general manager finished a busy day of free agent shopping on Friday by nabbing one of the most coveted UFAs on the market. Despite getting phone calls from at least a half-dozen suitors, Hurricanes power forward Erik Cole
signed on the dotted line to join Avalanche netminder Peter Budaj
as the newest members of the Habs family.
“We have a relatively new team we want to build on and with the two new acquisitions we made today, that really fills most of our needs,” explained Gauthier of his July 1 acquisitions. “You never know what will happen – sometimes you want something and it doesn’t happen and other times you aren’t expecting something and you get a call or a knock at the door. You never know.”
Cole should be a player very familiar to Canadiens fans, having racked up 25 points in 28 games against the Habs over the years – his most against any other NHL team.
“When you have to pay particular attention to a player when you play against his team, that’s when you really start getting to know him. Maybe it will help us when we play Carolina now that Mr. Cole is with us instead of against us,” joked the Habs GM, who called Cole’s agent immediately after the free agent market opened on Friday. “I can’t even tell you how high he was on our list – that changes every day – but I can tell you we signed him to a contract very quickly.”
With a big, scoring winger in his stable, Gauthier turned his attention to finding a creasemate for No.1 netminder Carey Price
"We were looking for a younger goalie so that we wouldn't find ourselves in a situation where we would have to bring in a new goalie every year," reasoned Gauthier who reached out to 28-year-old Peter Budaj
to fill that need. "He is a reliable goaltender who just played 45 games last season so we know he is in good shape."
With Price coming off a season that saw him appear in a team-record 72 games, the question becomes what impact Budaj will have on his new partner's workload in 2011-12.
"Teams need to have two good goalies. Every game is important. It's less about how many games he will play than how he plays them," explained Gauthier. "Whether it's 10, 20, 30 or 40 games you never know since injuries can happen. We need to be sure we have a chance to win every night." Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis. SEE ALSO
A perfect fit
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