MONTREAL – The offseason has gone on long enough for Francis Bouillon, who is itching to get the 2007-08 campaign underway.
“The season is always hectic and it’s nice to get a bit of a breather, but I’m looking forward to getting things started up again,” said Bouillon, who trains in Quebec City during the summer.
No stranger to hard work, Bouillon certainly took the road less traveled to the NHL. After going undrafted, Bouillon bounced up and down from the minors before finally securing his full-time spot on the Canadiens’ blue line.
“I’ve always had to work a little harder for all I’ve ever gained in my life so I don’t really know any other way to be,” admitted Bouillon. “I prepare the same way for a season now as I did when I didn’t know if I was going to make the make the team or go back to the minors. That’s just the way I am, I guess.”
That determination paid off just prior to the 2005-06 season when Bouillon signed a three-year contract with the Canadiens, the first multi-year deal of his career. That kind of commitment from the Habs after being forced to renew his contract on a season-by-season basis since breaking into the NHL in 1998-99, meant a lot to the now 31-year-old defenseman.
“It was a good feeling to sign that deal, but it didn’t change my approach in any way,” warned Bouillon. “I’m still the same player I’ve always been and I’m not about to sit back and start taking things for granted.”<.p>
Part of that drive has had Bouillon sweating it out in the gym all summer in preparation for the upcoming season. Joined by fellow NHLers Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins, the Senators’ Antoine Vermette and former Habs teammate and the Oilers’ newest goalie Mathieu Garon, Bouillon worked out a few hours a day in the gym before recently hitting the ice again.
When training camp does kick off in September, one can expect Bouillon to be the first player to report for duty. Old habits die hard.
For more on Francis, check out the current issue of CANADIENS magazine - on newsstands now! - to find out how much he can bench press, what sparked his ongoing feud with Darcy Tucker, and more.