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Learning curve

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – In a season that was all about learning, Blake Geoffrion packed more than a few interesting experiences into his young career.

Acquired from the Nashville Predators on Feb. 17, Geoffrion didn’t have to wait long to slip on a jersey and take his first strides with the Canadiens, as so many members of his family had done before him. After a short stint with the Bulldogs, the 24-year-old American was called up on Feb. 27 to make his debut with the Habs.

“The last few weeks of the season were incredible. The Montreal Canadiens are really a first-class organization,” expressed Geoffrion who scored two goals in the season’s last 13 games to close out his campaign with Montreal. “Coming from Nashville, who also has a first-class team, but isn’t quite as wealthy as some other ones in the league, you definitely notice the difference.”

For the young center, the months leading up to his arrival in Montreal were hectic to say the least; the last year bringing with it it’s share of ups and downs. Following an eye-catching first season with the Predators in 2010-11, expectations surrounding Geoffrion were high heading into his sophomore season.

But after an intense summer of training, Geoffrion hit a stumbling block right out of the gate. An injury suffered a few weeks before the start of the season not only slowed him down, but stopped him from getting the results he had worked so hard for all summer long.

“I ended up getting hurt during training camp and for a good few weeks afterwards I was having a tough time making certain movements because I had been cut close to the tendons in my wrist,” explained the Plantation, Florida native. “I lost all the muscle mass that I had worked to gain over the summer, and I never quite got back to the same level.

“This was a really tough year for me when it came to injuries and getting my timing and rhythm back,” he added. “When I would start hitting my stride again, I’d get re-injured or something else would happen to slow me down. Then I got traded.”

With the Canadiens lineup also decimated by injury over the course of the season, Geoffrion got his first opportunity to show the Montreal faithful what he could do during the closing quarter of 2011-12. Like with all young players, he took the good with the bad, spending a few games along the way observing the action from the press gallery.

At the same time, his end-of-season audition with the Habs, combined with his previous taste of NHL action convinced him more than ever that he was capable of making some noise at hockey’s highest level.

“I’m planning on working as hard as I possibly can over the offseason so I can earn myself a spot on the team when training camp rolls around. My frame of mind hasn’t changed from what it’s been the last few years,” promised Geoffrion, who is scheduled to become a restricted free-agent on July 1.

“I know there are a few things about my game that I need to fix when it comes to my strengths and my weaknesses,” he concluded. “I’m just anxious to come back next season. I have confidence that I’ll be able to keep playing in the NHL.”

Hugo Fontaine is a writer for Translated by Justin Fragapane.

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