BROSSARD – John Scott couldn’t stop smiling during his first practice with the Canadiens on Monday.
Recalled from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps over the weekend, Scott skated alongside his teammates at the Bell Sports Complex in preparation for his debut with Michel Therrien’s troops come Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers in Montreal. Featured on a line with Paul Byron and Torrey Mitchell, Scott enjoyed every single minute of the on-ice session.
“Obviously, I’m excited that they called me on Sunday night and said to get ready to be called up to the team. Any chance you get to put on the jersey of an Original Six team is pretty exciting, so it was a good call. It was actually the assistant GM of the IceCaps, Vincent Riendeau, who called me,” said Scott, who was acquired in a three-team trade with the Arizona Coyotes and Nashville Predators back in mid-January, and has been plying his trade with the IceCaps ever since.
According to Scott, it was Marc Bergevin who approached him last week to see if he’d be interested in a one-game stint with the big club. The 33-year-old jumped at the idea after playing 27 games with Sylvain Lefebvre’s squad and putting up two goals, four points and 85 penalty minutes along the way.
“It’s kind of cool how everything’s come full-circle. It’s good to be back in [an NHL] room. I haven’t met most of the guys yet. Half of the team I met in St. John’s, though. It’s good to be up here and kind of experience what it’s like to be a Canadien,” said Scott, who hasn’t played an NHL game since New Year’s Eve when he still called the Valley of the Sun his hockey home. “They’re kind of doing me a favor. It’s a one-game thing, unless I go out and score a hat trick.”
That being said, the past three months haven’t been easy for Scott, particularly with the events that transpired leading up to the NHL All-Star Game in Nashville in January. Despite being voted in as the Pacific Division captain by way of a fan vote, his attendance was up in the air when he was dealt to the Canadiens and re-assigned to the IceCaps. In the end, however, everything worked out just fine and Scott went on to steal the show in Music City and claim MVP honors in front of a raucous crowd at Bridgestone Arena.
Nevertheless, he still had to come to terms with plying his trade in the AHL ranks for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign, which was a tough pill to swallow following previous big league stops in Minnesota, Chicago, New York, Buffalo, San Jose and Arizona.
“It’s never easy to kind of get demoted from your job. I’ve been in the NHL for eight years now. It was a tough transition,” admitted Scott, who says the IceCaps’ personnel really facilitated the move and helped ease the adjustment along. “The group down in St. John’s really helped me, the coaches and the management staff. They took baby steps with me and let me work my way through it. I’ve had fun down there and it’s been a good experience. It’s good to be back [in the NHL], but I’ll be happy to go back to St. John’s, too.”
Scott’s former teammate with the Sharks last season, Mike Brown, insists the towering forward is a welcome addition in the Canadiens’ dressing room.
“It’s always nice to have a big body on the ice. Everyone plays a little bigger when he’s out there and it’s good to have him on our side,” said Brown, who, like Scott, doesn’t shy away from playing a physical brand of hockey and is always willing to defend his teammates. “He’s a great guy in the room. He’s already making us laugh, so John’s a good presence to have around the group.”
Needless to say, Scott is going to soak everything in during his stay with the Canadiens and appreciate every single shift on Tuesday night. It’s an experience he’s been eagerly anticipating for quite some time.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play for the Canadiens, such a cool franchise. I’m really excited to be here. It’s nice to be back. It’s nice to be around the guys. I’ll have fun [playing against Florida],” said Scott, who has 285 games of NHL experience on his resume. “I would love to come and play here and I appreciate everything they’re doing for me right now.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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