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The great outdoors

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – With the regular season only a matter of days away, the Canadiens will be doing some serious male bonding in the meantime.

As of Sunday night, the Habs will be off the grid, and that’s exactly how Jacques Martin wants it. His troops will be heading to the Teen Ranch in Caledon, ON for a crash course in bonding 101. 

While he’s hardly shaking in his skates, Ryan O’Byrne is curious about what fate awaits him.

 “None of us know for sure, but I’ve heard all kinds of rumors. There’s even talk of bunk beds!” laughed the 6-foot-5 defenseman, who would surely have his legs dangling off any standard bunk bed. “But we’ll be in the middle of nowhere all together and that’s what it’s all about.”

While he didn’t spill any beans about what exactly his players would be doing, Jacques Martin did finally fill in some of the blanks.

“This type of team building is something I’ve always done with my teams,” said Martin. “I think it’s a great way for the guys to get to know about each other and develop their leadership skills. There will be training sessions in the morning, both on and off ice, and then in the afternoons and evenings we’ll do some activities, including some physical ones, which will be aimed at developing responsibility and leadership.”

O’Byrne is taking the drastic change of routine in stride and is looking to cap off what’s been his best training camp to date.

“I think it will be good for us. We’re already getting along great during training camp and these fun next few days should be no different,” continued O’Byrne. “I think we all started bonding from day one this year and the guys are always joking and laughing, a lot more than I’ve seen here in the past. This retreat will help us and then we can get into only some serious jelling when we start the season on that long road trip.”

No stranger to all things wilderness, Carey Price has a better idea than most of what the Habs can expect.

“I haven’t actually been to a retreat like this, but my family owns a similar ranch in Alberta called Circle-Square ranch and they host groups for retreats there all the time so I kind of know what’s coming,” admitted Price, the consummate outdoorsman.

For Habs newcomer Brian Gionta, what is about to happen is nothing like he’s ever seen before.

“This is definitely a first for me in years in the league,” shrugged the 10-year veteran. “I haven’t really packed anything yet because quite honestly I have no idea what to bring. They haven’t really told us anything expect for when the bus is leaving. I guess we’ll all find out when we get there.”

Manny Almela is a writer for

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