MONTREAL - Make no mistake about it. Tomas Plekanec will continue cheering the Canadiens on every step of the way this coming season.
While the six-hour time difference in the Czech Republic - and his busy schedule with Czech Extraliga club HC Kometa Brno - won't afford him the opportunity to watch many games live, he'll still be checking the box scores and following along on social media at every opportunity.
"Of course I watch the NHL at home, but Montreal is the only team I follow. I watch how they're being built and what the guys are up to. I'm still in the picture somehow, just from the outside," said Plekanec, who has high hopes for his former squad during the 2019-20 campaign. "The team is going to be better again. It's going to keep going upwards and the guys are going to make the playoffs this year. As we all know, you never know what can happen in the playoffs. I'm looking forward to it, and we'll be watching closely for sure."
Video: DET@MTL: Plekanec finds twine in 1,000th NHL game
Count Plekanec among Canadiens fans the world over eager to see the club's young guns shine and impress.
The 36-year-old centerman is primed to see the likes of Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Ryan Poehling continue their respective development.
"KK is going to be awesome. I'm expecting a big season from him. And Poehling scoring that hat trick in the last game of the season was fun to see," mentioned Plekanec. "Overall, the team is young and ready to take another step."
Video: TOR@MTL: Poehling nets hatty, SO winner in NHL debut
Back home, Plekanec has big aspirations of his own with the start of the Czech Extraliga season just over 30 days away.
"Having a chance to play for a championship in the Czech League, it's something I was always looking for," said Plekanec, whose current club claimed back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018 respectively. "That is the mindset we have. We want to play for a championship, we want to be the best team, and hopefully it will happen."
That would be a perfect follow-up to his successful efforts last season to help his hometown team HC Kladno earn a promotion to the country's top league after being relegated in 2014.
"Coming back to Kladno and helping them accomplish that goal with Jaromir Jagr playing on my line and being a big part of that success, it was special," explained Plekanec. "I was always looking to finish my career in the Czech Republic. I'm grateful for my time in the NHL, but now it's time to play here and enjoy the time at home."
And it won't be long until Plekanec's home in Brno with girlfriend Lucie Safarova includes a brand new member of the family.
The couple is expecting a baby due at the end of the year, so some familiar duties are on the horizon for the two-time Olympian.
"It's an exciting time. Going through it now again, there's nothing better in life than having a newborn. It's going to be mid-December, so it will be a nice Christmas gift for us," said Plekanec, who already has two sons, seven-year-old Matyas and four-year-old Adam. "I'm looking forward to enjoying the non-sleep time again, the changing diapers again and all those little things that are so amazing about it."
Plekanec has memories aplenty from his time in Montreal, but there are a couple he'll cherish forever.
The love the Bell Centre faithful showed him at the end of his NHL career was exceptionally heartwarming.
After receiving a rousing ovation in recognition of his 1,000th career NHL game on October 15, 2018, he received another on November 10 following his NHL retirement.
Video: DET@MTL: Ovation for Plekanec's 1,000th NHL game
Video: VGK@MTL: Tomas Plekanec receives ovation
"There were so many good times, but the 1,000th game and those special nights with the fans and the standing ovations were amazing. You never dream of it, and it actually happened twice," recalled Plekanec. "I never had a chance to play for a Stanley Cup and to be on top, but people still reacted that way. It was something very, very touching and very, very special, and I will never forget that moment with the fans."