QUEBEC CITY – Michael McCarron is taking advantage of the 2015 Memorial Cup to show Canadiens fans what the future has in store.
The Habs’ lack of size at centre has been a hot topic as of late in Montreal. Even general manager Marc Bergevin affirmed that acquiring a towering pivot wasn’t as easy as some people believed. Fortunately, the CH might have a solution to that problem in the system already.
Few Canadiens supporters could have foreseen just how far McCarron would have come in such a short period of time. Plying his trade in London at the outset of his Junior career before moving on to Oshawa in January, the Michigan native has steadily evolved into an effective player in every facet of the game. McCarron has opened plenty of eyes and generated a lot of talk since the start of the tournament, reaping the rewards of a productive offseason last summer and a commitment to leaving a disappointing 2013-14 OHL season by the wayside.
“Before the season started, I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to win an OHL championship, I wanted to go to the Memorial Cup and I wanted to win the Memorial Cup. My offseason preparation definitely helped me, especially lasting this long,” explained McCarron, who sits tied for third in tournament scoring with three points in two games. “I’ve been lucky enough to not have any major injuries this year. Knock on wood, I’m still playing. My body is still in pretty good shape and I’m really excited for the rest of the tournament.”
A few weeks after wrapping up a productive regular season in which he registered 28 goals and 68 points in 56 games, McCarron added 18 more points during the Generals’ OHL playoff run. It’s safe to say he made it abundantly clear that his transition from the wing to centre hadn’t affected his play at all. That's been even more apparent during the Memorial Cup, as the 6’6”, 225-pound forward orchestrated a number of good scoring chances and never let anything stand in his way.
“To play centre, I knew I had to be faster and more explosive. Even if I was a winger, I was ready to make this transition,” explained McCarron, who has won 28 of the 56 draws he’s taken at the tournament. “I love playing centre now because it lets me have the puck more. It gets me involved and it allows me to up my confidence level earlier in the game.”
While many people were expecting to see the Erie Otters and Connor McDavid represent Ontario in Quebec City, McCarron and the Generals capitalized on a lack of attention to cause a big surprise in the OHL playoffs. That’s very different than what the Canadiens’ first-round selection in 2013 experienced as a member of the Knights, who were hosting the tournament in London last season. Willing to admit that the expectations in the Forest City were far too high, McCarron is keen on making the most of his squad’s strong standing for the remainder of the tournament.
Just one win away from securing an automatic berth in Sunday’s final, McCarron is out to deliver another standout performance on Tuesday night against the Kelowna Rockets at the Colisee Pepsi. He’ll be looking to impress a strong contingent of his future fans, many of whom have made the short trip between Montreal and Quebec City.
“I think our team can do a lot better. We haven’t played a full 60 minutes yet. I think we can still do that, starting tonight. It’s so hard to win this tournament. Since it’s so short, you have to be ready right off the bat. You have to win at least one game and we were lucky enough to win two so far,” concluded McCarron. “I love playing on big stages. I think I play better on those kinds of stages. I love being in Quebec City, especially with a lot of Canadiens fans in the stands. On the other hand, I don’t know if they’re booing me or rooting for me [because I belong to the Canadiens]!”
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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