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Reunited with Waite, Niemi eager to get to work

The 34-year-old goaltender practiced with his new teammates on Wednesday after being claimed off waivers

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD - After working together and winning a Stanley Cup in Chicago back in 2010, Antti Niemi and goalie coach Stephane Waite were reunited on Wednesday morning.

The pair hit the ice along with young gun Charlie Lindgren as the Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex in preparation for their upcoming tilt against the Arizona Coyotes.

Following the on-ice session, Niemi spoke to the Montreal media for the first time since being claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, shedding some light on what made his relationship with Waite so successful back in the Windy City.

"I think he gave me lots of structure on how to play goalie. He didn't try to change me then too much," said the 34-year-old Finn, who has since played with the San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Panthers, before joining the Canadiens. "It's easy for me to get comfortable with him [and Marc Bergevin] showing me how everything works and introducing me to everyone."

Video: Antti Niemi on his arrival in Montreal

While Niemi's numbers during the 2017-18 campaign aren't particularly strong, he arrived in his brand new hockey home feeling positive about the opportunity he's been presented with.

"I'm feeling pretty good and I like to work and be on the ice. I'm just having fun and I think I can play at a top level," said Niemi, who boasts 428 games of NHL experience on his resume. "I bring experience. I'm just going to work and battle, and I'm ready to go."

As far as getting his game back on track is concerned, Niemi believes that the formula is rather straightforward.

"Just be confident and battle," mentioned Niemi. "There's nothing really technical about it. It's more just playing simple."

Head coach Claude Julien insists that Waite's familiarity with Niemi can certainly help in that department.

"Stephane knows him well, both his weaknesses and his strengths. From what I saw this morning, he's a guy who competes hard. That's an important asset," said Julien. "I think that if Stephane can manage him the way he did years ago and work on those weaknesses, that will definitely make him a better goaltender."

Video: Claude Julien's press conference

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