MONTREAL – Peter Budaj
paid his first visit to Montreal to don the bleu-blanc-rouge and discuss an offseason full of change.
Less than a month after inking a two-year deal with the Canadiens, the club’s newest backup goaltender arrived in Montreal from Denver to take a sneak peek at his new life as a Hab.
“Right now I’m just in town for a visit, trying to get situated and meet the staff, work with Pierre Groulx on some goalie drills and try to get to know some people in the organization. Then I’ll be going back to Denver in a couple of days but I’ll be back towards the end of the month,” promised Budaj, who with any luck will get to enjoy at least a few weeks of hospitable Montreal weather before the mercury heads south come fall.
“I hope I get to spend some time in Montreal while it’s still summer. I’ve heard a lot of good things and it’s obviously a gorgeous city with a lot of great stuff to see and do. I’m really looking forward to getting set up here, but so far the people have all been fantastic, everyone’s really friendly and I’m already excited to come back.”
While it’s certain there will be plenty of people for Budaj to get to know as he makes his transition into the organization, there was at least one familiar face waiting to greet him – and pepper him with a few shots – when he skated out onto the Brossard ice Monday morning.
“Darchy and I played together for around a year when we were affiliated with Tampa Bay, playing in Hershey, Pennsylvania,” mentioned Budaj of his once and future teammate. “Other than that, the other guys I only know from playing against them. I played against Cammalleri in the juniors and Tomas Plekanec
is the same age as I am and he played for the Czech team and I played for Slovakia, so while we don’t personally know one another, we’ve played against each other many times.”
Leading up to his move to Montreal, Budaj has been taking advantage of the summer months, dividing his time between a balance of family, friends and fitness, with a little travel thrown in for good measure.
“After the season ended I tried to take a bit of time off to rest up both mentally and physically. I really enjoy working out and staying in shape, so for the first few weeks I got some “active rest” where I just played some different sports for recreation. I try to get in the best shape possible so that when camp starts I’m at my peak condition and ready for the start of the season,” explained Budaj who plans to make the most of the remainder of his time in Denver, the city he’s called home for the last six years.
“I like to working out in Denver because the altitude is higher so it makes your conditioning a little better. You’re kind of out of breath when you train there for the first few weeks but you adjust and it really helps you get in better shape.”
“With everything going on I didn’t make too many plans but just sort of hung out in Denver with my son and my wife,” added the 28-year-old netminder. “But thankfully I also got the chance to go home to my country, Slovakia, for a couple of weeks and spend some time with my parents and my brother.”
And the last thing on Budaj’s to-do list for the summer? Settle on an original design for his soon-to-be-made Habs mask. In the past, Budaj’s masks have featured everything from the Simpson’s Ned Flanders to the main character from Ubisoft Montreal’s award-winning videogame, Assassin’s Creed.
“That’s the great part about being a goalie – we get to put whatever we want on our masks. I know that Carey Price
had some country singers there for a while, and the guy that did that mask for him, David Gunnarsson, is the same guy that does mine – he’s in Sweden and he’s great so now I’m talking with him to try and come up with some designs,” explained Budaj.
“It’s tough though – I think Alex Auld had some things from the team’s history, like a tribute to all the goalies, and Halak when he was here I think had Patrick Roy on his mask. So personally, I’d like to do something like that but not exactly the same thing as the people who came before me. Hopefully I can come up with something a little different that’ll the fans will find cool.”Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.ALSO SEE:Discussion Topic: Budaj's new mask designChristmas in Alberta Summer school Summer of Subban The Gatekeeper Proving ground