Pierre Allard on Shea Weber: 'He's a beast'
Captain Shea Weber's incredible strength was one of several topics of conversation on Thursday as training camp opened in Brossardby Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com
BROSSARD - Topics aplenty were covered during media scrums on the first day of training camp on Thursday.
Here are a few additional subjects that caught our attention at the Bell Sports Complex.
Who will Jeff Petry be partnered with on defense?
When Ben Chiarot signed a three-year contract with the Canadiens on July 4, he mentioned that head coach Claude Julien had hinted that pairing him with Jeff Petry was a real possibility.
That would suit Petry just fine.
"I only skated with him twice before, but I think it's a good addition. He's a big guy that plays physical, more on the defensive side of things. I think it's a good guy to bring in to kind of solidify our back end," praised Petry, on the subject of Chiarot joining the fold. "I think having a guy like that alongside, just looking at it from the outside, would be a good fit. He's a more defensive guy, a physical guy, giving me the ability to skate and get up in the play as much as possible."
Nothing is written in stone as of yet, of course.
But the main thing Petry wants to establish at training camp is a good working relationship with whomever his partner will ultimately be when the Canadiens open the 2019-20 season on October 3 in Carolina.
"I'm sure through camp you're going to see different pairings throughout, just to see what's going to be best to help the team," mentioned Petry, who put up career-highs in goals (13), assists (33) and points (46) last season. "Whoever you're paired with, you have to make sure that the chemistry is there and just work together to make sure that everything is covered. We'll see how the pairings shape up here."
Video: Jeff Petry on possibly playing with Ben Chiarot
As the Canadiens' third-most utilized player on the power play last season behind only Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi, it came as no surprise that Petry was asked about how the Canadiens could right the ship in that department.
According to the nine-year NHL veteran, the answer lies within the current set of players.
"I think we have a good group. We look at the end of last year, we had two good groups and we started getting results," insisted Petry. "But it's a matter from Day 1 to simplify things, have a fresh start and getting everyone on the same page so we can get this thing clicking early on."
What is Artturi Lehkonen's main focus heading into the 2019-20 campaign?
Artturi Lehkonen registered a career-high 20 assists and 31 points last season, but he still wasn't satisfied with his production.
Scoring a career-low 11 goals after appearing in all 82 of the Habs' games might have something to do with it.
With that in mind, the 24-year-old left-winger is hoping to be a more dependable presence up front going forward.
"I had a lot of stretches throughout my three years here in the NHL that I haven't been able to produce, so I want to be more consistent," stressed Lehkonen, who is eager to light the lamp more regularly. "You can't put it all on bad luck. You've got to be alert when the chance comes and you've got to be confident enough that you're going to put the puck in the net."
Video: Artturi Lehkonen on being more consistent this season
It goes without saying that feeling the puck on his stick at every opportunity this summer was a top priority.
"Of course you've got to shoot a lot," mentioned Lehkonen. "You've got to find the confidence on your shot, find the right holes and it's going to come that way."
During his Q&A with the media, the Piikkio, Finland native also touched upon his desire to be a young leader at training camp and follow in the footsteps of his former mentor, Tomas Plekanec.
"Pleky was pretty good with me. He made me feel at home, like right away. When he came back from World Cup, he took me to watch a soccer game," recalled Lehkonen. "I look up to Pleky a lot. He was great with me. I found him as a really good leader. Of course I want to learn some things from him and follow his lead and what he did for me."
Who is the strongest player of them all?
When Canadiens sports science and performance director, Pierre Allard, was asked about which player always amazes him in the gym, his reply came rather quickly.
"Every year, I'm blown away by how strong Shea Weber is physically. He's a beast from a physical standpoint. Every year, when I see him arrive in the weight room, you see he's at another level," praised Allard, regarding the Habs' captain. "Shea has always taken his conditioning to heart."
Video: Shea Weber crushes home runs in Kelowna
Allard also singled out former Canadiens defensemen Sheldon Souray and Ryan O'Byrne as athletes boasting similar prowess in terms of natural strength, but he believes the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Sicamous, BC native ultimately stands alone.
"He's on top there. Just his strength, the weight that he uses to produce power, it's so impressive," said Allard. "I'm impressed every time I see him."
Video: Pierre Allard on evaluating players' fitness
In short, Weber's leadership extends to the weight room as well.
"He's a hard worker. He leads by example in the gym for everybody," concluded Allard. "To have him around and working hard like that to come back [from his injury last season], that was good."