MONTREAL – With his first game in a Canadiens jersey only a few hours away, Brent Sopel, the Habs’ newest defenseman, took to the ice Saturday morning for his first practice with the Montreal squad.
Sopel will find himself playing alongside Yannick Weber
when the puck drops at 7:00pm at the Bell Centre, and it’s clear that the latest addition to the Habs roster already has a crystal-clear idea of what he plans to bring to his new team.
“I try to be a shot-blocker. I know my role and that the success of special teams either wins or looses hockey games, so I’m hoping to be able to come in here and give the team a little boost. It’s my job to help the goalie by getting in the way and stopping every single puck I possibly can. That’s the kind of game I want to play,” promised Sopel after the Saturday morning skate. The Saskatoon native went on to point out that as a kid who grew up in Canada, being able to join the storied franchise is something special for him.
“Whenever there’s a trade, everything happens quickly and you’re pretty shocked at first, but I’m really thrilled to be here. The history of this team speaks for itself and hopefully we can go on a great run and help bring the cup back to Montreal.”
Boasting a solid +/- rating of 7 heading into tonight’s tilt against Carolina, the 6’2”, 205lbs rearguard shouldn’t have any trouble adapting to Jacques Martin’s defensive style of play.
“Sopel will be able to help this team with the level of aggressiveness he brings to the game,” expressed the Habs’ head-coach. “We bought in James Wisniewski to contribute on the offensive side of things which he’s been doing well, and Sopel is very good on the defensive side and that’s what we need when we’re trying to defend a lead late in the game.”
While playing in Montreal may be a new experience for Sopel, there will be at least one familiar face in the Canadiens dressing room as Habs’ sniper, Michael Cammalleri and Sopel played together in 2005-06 and 2006-07 as members of the L.A. Kings.
“I played with Brent way back in L.A., and I actually think that he’s changed his game quite a bit since then. He used to have more of a role on the power-play, but now he’s become more of a wily shot-blocker, which is something that we need on the penalty-kill right now,” said Cammalleri. “He’s definitely a character and a great guy with a unique personality – I can already tell he’s going to fit in perfectly in this room.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.ALSO READ:Disciplinary action Habs acquire Brent Sopel and Nigel Dawes from Atlanta Back in Town