MONTREAL – Brian Flynn is out to solidify his standing with the CH in 2015-16, and factor in on the score sheet more frequently, too.
After spending the majority of the offseason training back home in Massachusetts, the 27-year-old winger is eager to get a new season started on the right foot by coming out strong in training camp and seeing the fruits of his labor first-hand.
“I feel like I’ve had the best offseason of my career strength-wise. I just feel strong on the ice, strong with the puck. I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt before, so I’m really excited to get started. Right now, I’m at about 185 pounds, so I’ve probably put on five or six pounds of good muscle. That was the biggest thing I had to do coming back,” offered Flynn, who resides in Boston’s South End come summer, and works out with renowned strength coach, Mike Boyle, in nearby Woburn, MA. “I’ve been training with Mike since I was 13. He’s got a couple of workout facilities. I’ll train in Woburn until August, and then we switch over to Boston University for training and skating. [Former NHLers] Mike Grier and Jay Pandolfo run the skates. There are about 30 guys out there, including a lot of Bruins guys with families who come back early to get ready for the season.”
Acquired at the trade deadline last March, Flynn signed a two-year contract with the Canadiens back on June 30. Despite the security of a multi-year deal, however, the former University of Maine standout isn’t taking his spot on the squad for granted a little over a week before camp begins on the South Shore, especially with a slew of young guns slated to offer up some stiff competition up front.
“This might be the most prepared I’ve ever felt entering a season, but training camp is going to be tough. There are a lot of good, young guys, a lot of forwards, a lot of righties. But, it’s the NHL. That’s what you expect. Nothing is really going to be given to you. You’ve got to go out there and earn it. That’s what I plan to do,” mentioned Flynn, who was held without a point in nine regular season games with the Canadiens in 2014-15, but registered one goal and three points in six games in his first career trip to the postseason. “I really feel like I can contribute more to the team this year than I did last year, particularly when it comes to offense.”
Generating that offense, according to Flynn, has everything to do with feeling confident and comfortable in his surroundings. That takes time, which is something the Canadiens’ No. 32 didn’t have a lot of after being dealt from the Buffalo Sabres to the Habs six months ago with the regular season winding down.
“Last year, coming down the stretch, I was playing it safe. You don’t want to be that guy who [makes a mistake] and loses the game. That’s kind of how I was feeling. A lot of times, I wasn’t feeling comfortable with how I was playing. But, I feel a lot more confident right now. I’m really looking forward to camp and getting in the swing of things instead of being tossed into [an unfamiliar situation]. It’s a huge year for me. It’s kind of a year that I need to take a step forward and not stay stagnant,” explained Flynn, who put up five goals and 17 points in 54 games in Buffalo before joining Michel Therrien’s contingent. “Confidence is a huge thing. Coming into a fresh start, you feel good about what you’ve done in the offseason. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. When you feel good and you’re confident, you always play better.”
Getting hitched over the summer might also have something to do with Flynn’s positive outlook heading into his fourth NHL season. On June 27, Flynn married his long-time girlfriend, Alyssa, in Newport, RI, just three days before re-upping with the Canadiens.
“Even though we were engaged for something like 15 months, it went by so fast. Everybody said it would, but you kind of tune them out. Then, it actually sneaks up on you. It was good to finally make it official. It was great to have our families and friends there to celebrate. They’ve been such a big part of our lives and my hockey career, so to have them all in one place was awesome,” offered Flynn, whose wedding guests included former Sabres teammates Drew Stafford, Zemgus Girgensons and Mark Pysyk. “Then, I signed the contract on the second day of our honeymoon overseas. There I was printing it off at the hotel and signing it, and then faxing it back. Getting married and signing in a four-day period made the summer really nice.”
And, with the offseason essentially over, the Flynns couldn’t happier to be back in their newest hockey home for what promises to be an exciting year.
“It’s a really good group of guys. The last couple of years, they’ve done great things – making it to the second round last year, and the conference finals the year before. I think we’re right there. We’ve got the best goalie in the world along with a winning culture. That was pretty obvious when I got here. I was 100 percent honest when I said I wanted to come back and play in Montreal,” concluded Flynn. “City-wise and fanbase-wise, I don’t think there’s any question it’s the best place to play. We’re excited for the opportunity.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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