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Ready for primetime

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – The city of Hamilton may not be a top tourist destination, but when your general manager invites you to join a team in the thick of the playoffs, Steeltown suddenly has the allure of Honolulu. At least it did for Mathieu Carle, the Canadiens’ third selection at the 2006 draft.

Shortly after signing his first professional contract back in May, a deal that runs through the 2009-10 season, Carle headed to Hamilton where the Bulldogs were in the midst of their incredible run to the Calder Cup championship.

“I loved the experience, even if I didn’t stay until the end,” explained the offensive defenseman, who will leave his teens behind on Sept. 30. “I may not have played in any games but I learned a lot during practices and from just being with the team.”

With 195 points in 258 games following the elimination of his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies at the hands of the eventual QMJHL champs, the Lewiston MAINEiacs, in the semi-finals, Carle took advantage of his time in southern Ontario to jot down some notes.

“The veterans on the team took me under their wings,” noted Carle. “Guys like Mathieu Biron taught me some things that will last me throughout my career. Don Lever and the coaching staff also gave me some great advice.”

With all he's gained from that experience, the Gatineau native is ready to tackle his next challenge: making the jump to playing with the big boys.

“I’m definitely ready to start playing professional hockey,” said Carle. “I don’t know where I’ll begin but I hope it will be at the highest level possible.”

I know my skating is of some concern but I’ve worked really hard over the last year to improve on that aspect of my game. That’s allowed me to get better at the transition game and be a better quarter-back on the blueline.”

And with the chance to be around his idol Andrei Markov come training camp in September, that’s not good news for opposing NHL teams for years to come.

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