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Smiling bright

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – To say it’s an exciting time for Jeff Petry and his wife, Julie, would be an understatement.

In addition to making Montreal their hockey home for the foreseeable future after the veteran rearguard signed a six-year contract with the Canadiens back on June 2, the couple will welcome their first child at the end of August, just three weeks prior to the start of training camp.

Photo Credit: Julie Petry

“We’re really happy about it. It’s the first grandchild on both sides of the family, so everyone’s saying the baby is going to be spoiled rotten,” offered Petry, who recently returned to La Belle Province to visit and skate with kids at the Montreal Canadiens Hockey School in Brossard. “My wife’s parents are from Houston and my parents are from Detroit. We’ve checked it out and there are direct flights from both of those cities to Montreal, so it will be quick and easy for the grandparents to get up here. I’m sure we’ll be having a lot of visitors coming up to see games and the baby, too.”

The Petrys don’t yet know if they’ll be having a boy or a girl in about seven weeks’ time, electing instead to wait until the big day arrives. The Canadiens’ No. 26 admits, however, that the anticipation is ramping up with every passing day.

“We agreed that we were going to wait [to find out]. Early on, it was easy. As it gets closer and closer though, and you’re trying to plan ahead for everything that comes with it, it’s getting harder and harder and I want to know more and more. I’ve made it this long, though, so I think I can wait a little longer,” confided Petry, who will reside in Candiac with his family come September. “There are just so many things I’m looking forward to. I was really close with Ryan Jones in Edmonton. When he had his son, you just saw the way it changes people for the better. I’m excited to see our baby grow. I know it’s going to be a big responsibility and it’s going to be work, but it’s a good thing. We’re thrilled.”

Back home in Michigan, where Petry has spent the bulk of his time this summer, the 27-year-old Ann Arbor native enjoyed some well-deserved time off after the season before resuming his off-ice training about a month ago.

“This is the fourth year that I’ve been working out with the same group at Barwis Methods in Plymouth. It’s a program that I’m familiar with. It’s a mix of mostly AHL and NHL guys. We do everything from weight lifting to speed and agility work. There’s some on-ice work involved also,” explained Petry, who works out alongside the likes of Matt Hunwick, Kevin Porter, Steven Kampfer and Shawn Horcoff during the offseason.

“When I’m over there, I try to cover every aspect I can, but I’d say the two main things are quickness and strength training,” added Petry, who enjoys hitting the gym come June, July and August, even at the crack of dawn. “We’re in the seven o’clock group, so I have to get up pretty early to head over there. But, there aren’t many days that I’m really dragging. It’s a good environment and I enjoy the interaction that comes with it.”

While Petry’s workout programs have remained relatively consistent over the years, the Michigan State grad admits to adding a new activity to the mix that has steadily become an almost daily hobby.

“Back in June, I went down to Texas to visit Julie’s family. We were there for Father’s Day. Her dad’s a big kayak and canoe guy. He builds his own and does some pretty long races. There’s a 14-mile bayou run that he usually does, and he asked if I wanted to do it with Julie’s brother. On Father’s Day morning, we did that 14-mile trail together,” recalled Petry, who will resume skating shortly in the Great Lakes State. “When we got back to Michigan, I kind of got the itch to do it again. We live on a lake [in West Bloomfield], so I went out and bought a kayak and just started exploring some canals and rivers around us. Every day or every weekend, I try to get out there and get lost in the canals. It’s a great way to relax and get away.”

Petry spending time with youngsters at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

It’s also the perfect way to get mentally prepared for the inevitable twists and turns that happen over the course of a demanding NHL campaign. Fortunately, Petry believes he’s found a group capable of handling anything that comes their way, adversity or otherwise.

“Even last year, when we were down in the series against Tampa, I go back to the meetings we had. We were never out of it. We just kept pushing forward and fighting. We ended up winning two games before dropping Game 6 and being eliminated, but there was never a negative feeling in this environment,” mentioned Petry, who put up three goals and seven points in 19 regular season games with the Canadiens after coming on board at the trade deadline, before adding two goals and three points in 12 postseason contests. “We know what our goal is, and we know what we want to achieve. There aren’t any ifs with this team. We know how things are going to be and how things are going to happen.”

With that in mind, Petry can’t wait to get started.

“Everyone has one more year under their belt and the younger corps is coming in a little bit more mature and more experienced. You have key pieces like Carey Price, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty. Those guys have been here for a while. The success they’ve had the last two years is something I’m really looking forward to experiencing first-hand next year,” concluded Petry, who will begin his sixth NHL season in 2015-16. “It doesn’t take long to realize you’re part of something special with the Canadiens. I noticed that in my short time with the team already. You see just how passionate the fans are and how passionate the city is. Everyone back home compares them to the New York Yankees. Growing up, I was a big baseball fan, so I know what that means. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for

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