MONTREAL – The Canadiens deviated from their practice routine somewhat on Sunday, holding court at the Bell Centre instead of the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard as 17,000 spectators turned out to cheer on Michel Therrien’s troops at the Provigo Canadiens Fan Practice.
Despite being sidelined with a minor upper-body injury, goaltender Carey Price still put in an appearance for the fans in attendance, reassuring them that he’d be back between the pipes soon.
Dustin Tokarski also made the fans smile on Sunday, but for a very different reason. As the players made their way to the ice, Tokarski’s teammates decided to play a classic prank on him, letting the netminder hit the ice alone before joining him for practice.
“It was a better experience than last year,” offered Nathan Beaulieu, who fell victim to the same prank in 2013. “It happened to Ticker today, which was pretty funny.”
Unfortunately for Tokarski, his colleagues weren’t about to reveal who was ultimately responsible for the practical joke.
“I can’t say it,” mentioned veteran Manny Malhotra, who hasn’t been the victim of that particular prank over the course of his NHL career. “It’s a secret.”
Dale Weise wasn’t about to spill the beans, either.
“To be perfectly honest, I’m not really sure,” offered Weise. “I didn’t really know what we were doing. I was standing up and I was waiting to hit the ice. Then, I just saw him head out there by himself. I started to laugh and then he came back. I don’t know who’s idea it was, but it was a really good one.”
Interestingly enough, it appeared that only Beaulieu himself had any information on who the guilty party really was.
“I think it was Prusty. He was the culprit going around the room, telling everyone he was going to go first,” offered the young defenseman. “I was pretty excited that it wasn’t me this year. It’s all in good fun and we had a lot of fun out there.”
For his part, Tokarski didn’t appear to know the identity of the prankster or that he was the intended target this time around.
“I had no idea, but it was a pretty good one,” explained Tokarski. “I should have clued in and thought about it, but I didn’t and it was a pretty good joke. “I did see the video of Nathan, but for whatever reason, I didn’t even think about it and I was the center of the joke.”
Despite the somewhat embarrassing moment, Tokarski still enjoyed the experience of suiting up in front of a packed house for his first public practice with the Canadiens.
“It was a blast. It was fun, the music was cool,” praised Tokarski. “The fans are the best in the league, so having them here was a good time.”
Weise was also taking part in his first public practice session since joining the Canadiens last February, and he wasn’t at all surprised to see the incredible turnout at the Bell Centre.
“I’m not surprised, but the fans just keep surprising me,” confirmed the Winnipeg native, who scored a goal in Saturday night’s tilt against the New York Islanders. “For that many people to show up on a Sunday to watch us practice and kind of just goof around was amazing. Montreal has the best fans in the world. This is the greatest place to play, and just for a practice that was so much fun. I’d like all of our practices to be like that!”
Unfortunately for Weise, Monday’s practice session at the Bell Sports Complex likely won’t have a similar agenda as the Canadiens begin preparing for Tuesday night’s contest against the Nashville Predators, who currently sit second in the NHL’s overall standings.
Élise Robillard is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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