BROSSARD – The Habs reacted to the news of Jaroslav Spacek’s departure from the team before taking off for New Jersey.
The Canadiens arrived at practice Friday morning to be hit with the news that the team would be trading one veteran Czech defenseman in Jaroslav Spacek, for another in the Carolina Hurricane’s Tomas Kaberle. Jacques Martin addressed the media following the morning skate to shed some light on a trade that caught most off guard.
“The move this morning was to acquire a quarterback for our power play. The player that’s supposed to fill that role right now is Andrei Markov, but he has yet to play a game this year and with his latest surgery is expected to be out until after the All-Star break,” dropped the Habs head coach on the team’s hopes for their newest player.
“In the meantime, we have lots of games and if there’s one area I’ve said time and time again that’s been critical, it’s been our power play,” continued Martin of a Canadiens power play the currently ranks 28th in the league with a success rate of only 11.4% “Somebody asked me last night why we keep losing all of these games in a shootout. Well, maybe if we get some production out of our power play that’s what will make the difference – it has made the difference in the first two years here, and that’s what we’re hoping Kaberle will be able to help us with.”
Torn between saying farewell to a current teammate and welcoming in a former one, veteran rearguard, Hal Gill, weighed in on the Habs’ hot topic of the day.
“It’s always the toughest part of the job when you lose a friend and a good teammate, but that’s part of the business. On the other hand, we’re gaining a guy that I’ve played with before and that I know is a good guy and I know he’s going to help our team,” expressed Gill who skated with Kaberle in Toronto for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.
“But it’s just tough to talk about this when you’re losing Spacio. He was a great team guy and someone we’ll miss a lot,” added No. 75. “When you don’t win games, things happen, trades happen. So I think the message is, if you’re not paying attention, you should be paying attention now.”
While Kaberle will be in transit, trying to join the team in New Jersey Friday night, Chris Campoli has been given the green light to play. Neither is currently confirmed for Saturday’s 1:00 p.m. puck drop, but Martin remains hopeful that both could see action.
“I’m cleared to play now, and hopefully I’ll get to tomorrow. I feel good; physically I’m in great shape. There’s going to be an adjustment period obviously time-wise and game-wise – there are things you’ll see in a game that you can’t really deal with in practice,” explained Campoli, still waiting to play his second game as a Canadiens. “I’m excited about getting into it. It’s been a long road back for me and I just want to get in and contribute.”
With not much time between practice and a trip to the airport, the Habs still got the chance to wish Spacek all the best before he makes his transition to join Kirk Muller and the Hurricanes in Carolina.
“I had an opportunity to talk to him before I went out on the ice. I just wished him the best and made sure he knew that I was thankful for the time he played here,” said P.K. Subban. “For me, the advice you get from a guy like that, who’s been around for such a long time, is stuff you’ll remember for the rest of your life. We’re not only losing a good player but a great teammate in Spacio – he’ll be missed.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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