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Meeting the new guys

Eric Gelinas, Jakub Jerabek and Karl Alzner were among the many new faces hitting the ice in Brossard on Friday

by Matt Cudzinowski @canadiensmtl /

BROSSARD - Karl Gelinas likely provided his younger brother, Eric, with a little extra inspiration before the Canadiens began on-ice workouts to get training camp going for real.

On Thursday night, the veteran pitcher helped lead the Quebec Capitales to their seventh Can-Am League title in franchise history after completing a series sweep of the Rockland Boulders in front of a sold-out crowd at Canac Stadium in Quebec City.

It marked the sixth time that Gelinas had hoisted the Arthur E. Ford Trophy as a member of the Capitales, going seven and one-third innings in the latest series-clinching victory.

"It's funny because the day it was announced that I'd been invited to camp by the Canadiens, I think he registered the 1,000th strikeout of his pro career. Then, I think I kind of stole the spotlight from him. We actually joked about that," said the 26-year-old defenseman, who began his quest to secure a contract with the Canadiens on Friday morning at the Bell Sports Complex, hitting the ice as a member of Team A. "It would be cool to play in Quebec City [on Monday] and have my brother in the stands, but I still don't know if I'll be in the lineup yet."

Video: Gelinas on the opportunity to earn a roster spot

While that remains to be seen, Gelinas thoroughly enjoyed his first formal workout in Habs colors after undergoing medical and fitness testing a day earlier.

"I thought it went well, especially with the way practices are being run. We practice hard and then we have a video session and come back and practice systems. I really liked that," said Gelinas, the lone invitee among the 60 players taking part in training camp this year. "I'm really happy with the opportunity that the Canadiens are giving me and I'm going to do everything I can to earn a contract here."

In short, Gelinas' approach to his seventh career pro camp is rather simple and shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

"I'm coming here with the mindset of stealing a job from someone and I had the same mindset at my first training camp, too. I have everything to prove and to gain. It's funny. I wasn't nervous, but I was excited to get on the ice this morning. It's a cool feeling," mentioned Gelinas, who boasts 189 games of NHL experience with the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche. "I see it as relaunching my career. It's a really good chance for me."

Like Gelinas, 26-year-old Jakub Jerabek is trying to stand out on the back end as well after signing a one-year free-agent contract with the Canadiens on May 1st.

Jerabek spent last season plying his trade in the KHL, amassing five goals and 34 points in 59 games with Vityaz Podolsk.

"I really appreciate being here and trying to be a part of this big organization. It will be hard work the first week, but I think I can do it," said Jerabek, the 2016 Czech Extraliga's Defenseman of the Year. "It's my first time starting camp and there's 60 players. They're great guys and great players, so it's amazing for me. I hope it will go well."

Jerabek hadn't been to Montreal before arriving in the city for camp. The closest he came was when he was still a youngster on his way to the annual International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in Quebec City. 

Video: Jerabek on starting out in Montreal

He doesn't believe getting used to some of his new responsibilities - including interacting with members of the media - will take too long, though.

"I'm getting used to it. It's going to be hard, but I have to practice my English. I hope it's going to get better," cracked Jerabek, who enlisted the help of a Habs veteran as a "guide" of sorts. "Pleky and I had a couple of beers at his house and he told me some things, how to act here and talk with you guys."

Completely at ease talking to reporters, Karl Alzner was quick to admit that his morning didn't necessarily get off to the best of starts.

"The first thing that was going through my mind was that I was going to be late. There was an accident on the highway. I was a little bit nervous about that," cracked Alzner, after making his Canadiens training camp debut skating alongside Jeff Petry. "But, I think no matter how long you've been around, the first day of camp you get some butterflies because you know it's going to be tough. As an older guy, you know you've got to try and set the standard a little bit and show your work ethic. But, as soon as I got on there and felt the puck, I started to feel really confident."

Video: Alzner on his first practice with the Canadiens

The 28-year-old rearguard isn't just feeling good about his game right now, expanding upon the potential he sees in this group going forward.

"There are a lot of really good players here. This is a team that has always been hard to play against in the past. I really like that," said Alzner, who is set to embark on his 10th NHL campaign this year. "That's a good identity to have. Then, I think that if you look way, way down the line, it would be very cool to win here, and that's something that excites me and everyone watching this team playing hockey."

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