MONTREAL – After patiently waiting all of last summer, Marc-Andre Bergeron wasted no time making an impact when he got his call from the Canadiens.
Counting stints in Edmonton, Long Island, Anaheim and Minnesota on his resume already, the Trois Rivieres native finally got the chance to come home in 2009-10.
“I think any Quebecer comes to Montreal with some doubts, but in the end it was better than I could’ve ever imagined,” admitted Bergeron, who played his first game in the bleu-blanc-rouge
on October 20. “To be able to play in front of friends and family makes it all worth it. I couldn’t believe it that so many of my friends were able to come and see me play the majority of our home games this season.”
Watching from the comfort of home when Andrei Markov
went down with a severed tendon in the first game of the season, Bergeron was back home doing some renovations when his phone rang. On October 6, six days into the 2009-10 season, the veteran blue-liner signed a one-year deal with the Habs and headed straight to Hamilton to get back in game shape with the Bulldogs. Three games and six points later, the 29-year-old was back in the big leagues, armed with his not-so-secret weapon: his 100-plus mph bullet from the point.
In just his second game in Montreal, Bergeron got down to business, picking up an assist and notching his first game-winning goal of the campaign. With four game-winners to his credit, Bergeron finished the year tied with Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec
for the team lead in the clutch.
It didn’t take long for Bergeron to carve out his niche as a power play specialist in la Belle Province
, picking up 22 of his 34 points with the man advantage this year. To keep opponents guessing, the versatile sharp-shooter was often used as a winger by head coach Jacques Martin, a role that Bergeron had no problem adjusting to when needed.
“Every role is important,” explained Bergeron, who finished ninth among NHL defensemen with 13 goals, despite playing just 60 games this year. “I don’t think there’s any role you can turn your nose up at – especially if you have the opportunity to be playing in the NHL.
“As a professional, your job is to just perform your best night after night and do what’s asked of you,” continued Bergeron. “It’s not always easy – you’re playing against elite players out there. The game is getting better and better and guys are in better shape every year. Playing 82 games is a lot. It’s a job I love to do and I appreciate that I have the chance to keep playing.”
With seven seasons now under his belt and July 1 free agency looming, Bergeron is looking to call an NHL team home for good.
“I’m starting to build experience and maturity and I understand the game more and more,” offered Bergeron. “I don’t want to hang up my skates just yet, but it’s not really up to me – at least not yet. Personally, I had the best year of my career this year and I really hope I can stay in Montreal. This city really is all about hockey.”Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.See alsoVote for the Habs' best forward in 2009-10 22 players to take part in the Canadiens Development Camp A second outdoor game Canadiens sign free agent Kyle Klubertanz