MONTREAL – Roman Hamrlik got more than he bargained for in 2009-10.
Anyone wondering how the Canadiens survived extended stretches without All-Star Andrei Markov
need only examine the well-earned bags under the eyes of Roman Hamrlik at season’s end.
A former All-Star in his own right, the 36-year-old proved to be a 6-foot-2, 210-pound Band-Aid on the Habs’ blue line, helping keep his team afloat over Markov’s 37-game absence during the regular season followed by his 11-game playoff sidelining.
Hammer’s added workload this season saw his ice-time spike to 23:26, second only to Markov on the team and his highest total since joining the Habs prior to the 2007-08 season.
Despite his mounting responsibilities during the campaign, Hamrlik was an even bigger presence for the Canadiens in the postseason. With a career-high nine points in 19 games, Hamrlik led all Habs defensemen this spring. The d-man one point back of him also owes Hamrlik a debt of gratitude.
Called up as blue line reinforcements for the Habs just prior to Game 6 against the Capitals in the first round, 20-year-old P.K. Subban
found himself joined at the hip with the Czech defenseman upon his arrival in Montreal. The tutelage of the young phenom proved to be just another impressive footnote to Hamrlik’s 17th NHL season.
“The veteran guys on the team just made things so much easier for me and playing with a guy who’s been there like Hammer helped me so much,” admitted Subban.
In the league since he was chosen first overall in 1992, Hamrlik has called an NHL blue line his home since he was only 18. While no longer the flashy player who once set a Lightning record for defensemen with 65 points, he has adapted his game and now does the little things that can often make a difference on any given night.
Those little things are really beginning to add up, which is nothing but good news for Subban and the Canadiens.Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.See alsoYear in review - Benoit Pouliot Year in review - Dominic Moore Year in review - Josh Gorges Year in review – Marc-Andre Bergeron