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Look familiar, Paul?

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
EDMONTON -- There won’t be a shortage of players changing teams in the coming weeks, but few will fit in as quickly as Paul Mara in Montreal.

Acquired from the Ducks in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, the 31-year-old defenseman finds himself in the familiar spot of helping beef up the Canadiens blue line. Signed by Montreal two summers ago for that same reason, Mara suited up for 42 games with the Habs in 2009-10 before season-ending shoulder surgery cut his campaign short.

Only months removed from wearing his No. 22 with the Habs, the rugged rearguard will be dusting off his familiar jersey soon enough.

“A guy like Pauly has been in the league for many years. He’s a big, strong physical defenseman and we’re going to need guys like that down the stretch,” said Travis Moen. “He’s going to add more stability to our blue line, there's no question about that. We’re just happy to have him back. It’s not like it’s a fresh face coming in here. He’s not arriving and having to meet 20 guys for the first time.”

With no need to formally introduce himself to more than a handful of teammates once he officially arrives, Mara won’t be the only one who will feels like he never left Montreal.

“He’s really well-liked by all of us in this room,” offered winger Mathieu Darche. “He hasn’t played much lately but he brings a lot of experience. The injuries are starting to pile up for us on the blue line right now. Paul knows our system, our players and our coaches.”

Although Mara is only expected to arrive a few hours before puck drop on Thursday in Edmonton, it won't be soon enough for head coach Jacques Martin who is anxious to add Mara to his rapidly depleting defensive corps.

“With veterans like [Hal] Gill and [Jaroslav] Spacek on the injured list right now, we needed a veteran player like Mara who knows our system,” explained Martin. “Paul played well for us last year, but unfortunately his injury caused him to miss the end of last season.”

This time around Mara will get the chance to be a part of the Habs' stretch run.

“This is a player who brings experience and who has been there before,” concluded Martin of the 12-year NHL veteran. “He knows what the playoffs are all about and he will be able to help us the rest of the way.”

Manny Almela is a writer for

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