LAVAL-SUR-LE-LAC - While Canadiens veterans and newcomers alike might still be getting to know one another, they already share a common objective - making the 2017-18 campaign a resounding success.
That's priority one for captain Max Pacioretty, who spent the bulk of his summer training in Montreal and enjoying everything the world-class city has to offer.
That included daily interaction with Habs fans all around town, which the 28-year-old left-winger wholeheartedly embraced. It only strengthened his resolve to ensure that his 10th season with the Canadiens is as productive as possible.
"This is an unbelievable place to play. Every single day, I had someone come up to me this summer and say something positive. That's really the heartbeat of the city. Those are the true fans. Those are the people that care about us, that watch us every night," said Pacioretty, who was among the first players to address the media at the Canadiens' annual season-opening golf tournament on Monday. "At the end of the day, the fans love us because we put the work in every day. They know that we want to help this team win…I see how much the fans love me and I can honestly say that it's a two-way road. I have a great relationship with the fans. It was a special summer for me."
Video: Max Pacioretty on support from the fans
There's no denying that Pacioretty's summer workout partner, Jonathan Drouin, is just as committed to the cause after joining Claude Julien's troops over the summer in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"Being a part of a new team is cool. It's a new chapter, a new start and I'm excited about it," said Drouin. "Playing for the Canadiens is completely different. My life has completely changed in that respect."
And, the 22-year-old Saint-Agathe-Des-Monts native is loving every single minute of it while counting down the days until his official Bell Centre debut on October 10th against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"I talk about it with my friends and family. It'll be cool, playing that first game at the Bell Centre. We talk about it every day. It will be an incredible moment, not just for my family, but for me," said Drouin. "My dad saw guys like Guy Lafleur play when he went to the Forum with his dad, so it will be cool for him to see his son play in the Bell Centre. He'll be sitting with my mom. I think it will be very special."
Like Drouin, this season marks a "homecoming" of sorts for 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit, who began his NHL career with the Canadiens in 2005-06 before departing following the 2007-08 campaign.
Streit returned to Montreal recently after spending the summer in his native Switzerland and he couldn't be happier to be back.
"It's incredible. It's a great story. Things have changed a lot. I had a bit of time this weekend to walk around downtown and I felt at home right away," said Streit, who signed a one-year contract with the Canadiens on July 25th. "There are a lot, a lot of fans. Everybody loves hockey. The Canadiens are a unique team and I'm very excited to be here."
Fellow rearguard Karl Alzner, meanwhile, is already embracing his brand new hockey home.
"It's awesome. We love it. We love the community that we're in. We're near a lot of the guys. We're finally getting a chance to see what the area is like," mentioned Alzner, who brings nine years and 591 games of NHL experience along with him to Montreal from Washington. "We haven't been into downtown yet, but what we've seen has been awesome and the guys have been good. We're happy with everything."
Video: Karl Alzner on the excitement of becoming a Hab
In Alzner's case, of course, the big question is who he'll be partnered with on the back end come opening night. That isn't keeping him up at night, though.
"There's the obvious question that guys have been talking about - with Weber and Petry - but I honestly have no idea. Things can change once the season gets going and we see how the chemistry works and just what the team needs. I personally don't have a preference. I've played with a lot of guys in the past," said Alzner, who plans on bringing some key intangibles to the table. "I'd like to try and bring some leadership. You get full effort from me and a lot of heart and determination."
Fresh off signing a new three-year contract, determination isn't something Alex Galchenyuk is short on either these days - especially after he battled the injury bug last year and was limited to just 61 games during the regular season.
"I always have something to prove, especially to myself. Last year was up and down, but it's a new year, a new fresh start. I have a lot of expectations. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I've got to go out there and be the best player I can be - whether I'm at wing or at center," insisted Galchenyuk. "It's a new year. I think everybody is excited and it starts here at the golf tournament."
Carey Price is definitely in agreement there, stressing his desire to see this group reach its true potential.
"The changes are all positive," said Price, who signed an eight-year contract extension on July 2nd. "It's always good to see guys coming in with a fresh perspective. Obviously, there's a lot of enthusiasm. I'm looking forward to seeing where everybody fits in."
Video: Carey Price on his new contract