MONTREAL – Money might change some people, but Tomas Plekanec
obviously isn’t one of them.
After speculation that signing the most lucrative contract of his career might cause him to rest on his laurels, Plekanec instead kicked off the Canadiens 2010-11 campaign ready and willing to prove his critics wrong. Following a league-leading nine points in seven preseason games, the 28-year-old went on to reprise his role as the Canadiens’ calm, consistent center amid the storm of changes surrounding the team over the last two years.
For the second consecutive season, Plekanec stood out as the Canadiens’ top scorer with a total of 57 points in 77 games and finished the year with a plus-8 rating despite the revolving door of wingers flanking him over that time. It wasn’t long before being sent out onto the ice alongside the Kladno native became recognized as a reward of sorts for Jacques Martin’s forwards as in nearly every circumstance Plekanec’s game-play seemed to elevate that of those around him.
Continuing his tenure as one of the Canadiens’ top offensive guns didn’t stop Plekanec from showing his Selke-stripes with more solid two-way play. An indispensable commodity on the Habs’ penalty-kill, the Czech center registered the most ice-time of any Canadiens’ forward averaging 2:49 when his team was stuck with a man in the box, and often single-handedly eating up valuable seconds playing keep away with the puck in the offensive zone.
With his 77 games played in 2010-11, Plekanec also proved once again that he’s a tough guy to keep down for any extended period of time. After a slew of the Canadiens’ top-players were shelved with long-term injuries at various points in the season, Plekanec’s durability became more important than ever with the 5-foot-11, 198 lbs center having notably taken to the ice for 401 out of 410 regular season games for the Habs over the past five seasons.
Plekanec also ended his season with bragging rights as the only other member of the 2010-11 edition of the Canadiens – other than Carey Price
, of course – to have the distinction of being able to call himself a Molson Cup winner. While Price may have walked away with the trophy every other time it was presented, Plekanec’s five goals and four assists along with a plus-4 rating let him nab the honors for the month of January.
With the number of personnel changes that could be taking place over the coming months, the Canadiens can rest a little easier knowing they have at least one very reliable piece of their 2011-12 puzzle already figured out.Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.SEE ALSO
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