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Notebook - March 26, 2012

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Kaberle practices with the team, Cunneyworth on what to look for in the last six games, and Darche celebrates McGill’s big win.

Back as a Dad: After the timing of an upper-body injury partially coincided with welcoming his new baby boy into the world on March 14th, defenseman Tomas Kaberle was finally back on the ice with the Habs, Monday morning. Shelved for the team’s last six games, the Czech blue-liner is still waiting to be cleared for contact, but based on his progress, expects a return to action could be right around the corner.

There can be only one

“It was nice to get the first practice in with the boys. Obviously it was no-contact today, but I’m going to talk with the trainers and hopefully soon I’ll be in the lineup. Hopefully it will be this week,” dropped Kaberle, who has 31 points over 70 games split between the Habs and Hurricanes this season. “I actually got injured in the Vancouver game and I probably shouldn’t have played the game after against Buffalo, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

“I was back in Montreal the day after the baby was born, but he’s doing good – he’s healthy so that’s what matters,” added Kaberle, also taking a moment to field a question on whether his son would wind up as a forward, defenseman or goalie. “He might be a doctor. We’ll have to see.”

Alma mater: If there was one member of the Canadiens that you can bet was paying close attention when McGill University toppled the Mustangs Sunday night in overtime to win their first CIS men’s hockey title in the school’s history – it’s Mathieu Darche. Having played for the Redmen for four years himself, Darche shared a bit on the work that went into bringing the title to prestigious Montreal university.

“I got together with a few guys I graduated with to watch the game. We were on the phone with Martin Raymond and Guy Boucher for the whole match. We all played for head-coach, Martin Raymond at the time and it’s really him who built up that program to where it is,” explained Darche who posted 160 points in 128 games with the Redmen.

“It was good to be able to tease David Scott, our team psychologist a bit though,” added the veteran forward. “He teaches at the University of New-Brunswick and he was on me all year saying that his team was No. 1. I told him all that all that mattered was the final result where McGill was going to be the one at the top.”

Casting call: With the unfortunate reality of the Canadiens’ official elimination from playoff contention also comes the chance for Randy Cunneyworth and his coaching staff to evaluate some of their personnel in the six games to come. Following the Canadiens’ Monday morning skate in Brossard, the Habs’ head coach shared his ideas of what he hopes to accomplish before the final siren sounds on the 2011-12 season.

“The approach we’re taking and what we’re trying to achieve are one and the same. We may look at a couple of different scenarios, but really I think we’ve been doing that for a bit of time now,” explained Cunneyworth who notably returned Lars Eller to his natural position of center for the team’s morning skate. “We’ve got guys in place for auditions that we’re hoping to see at some point in the future. The idea is to make sure we’re giving guys the appropriate responsibility and then it’s up to them to come through and play well. Hopefully there’s been enough opportunity that way.

“But that’s not the be-all-end-all, we still want to win hockey games,” finished the Canadiens’ head coach. “Regardless of where guys are, the end result remains that we still want the ‘W’.”

Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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