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The not-so-great outdoors

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
CALGARY – The Habs won’t soon forget the Heritage Classic.

“These games are always special and something all players should get to experienced in their careers, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more frustrated in my life playing hockey,” shrugged James Wisniewski. “The puck was bouncing around like a tennis ball out there. We’re a skill team – a puck-moving team and we kept trying to make plays, but it just wasn’t happening for us today.”

Wisniewski’s frustrations didn’t end with the puck misbehaving all afternoon long in Calgary; his constant reminder of his gruesome injury didn’t help things, either. 

“Wearing that full cage is just painful since it takes away from your vision,” explained Wisniewski, who still has considerable swelling around his left eye. “Some guys don’t play with anything and then they go to a half-shield and it gives them problems, let alone wearing a full cage. It’s a pain I’m just going to have to get used to.”

As far as baptisms by fire go, Paul Mara’s first game back with the Habs since being acquired from Anaheim ending up outdoors was anything but ordinary.

“I think you have to play simple hockey in games like this,” said Mara following his open-air debut. “It was really tough for both teams to make tape-to-tape passes since the ice was so chippy. The puck didn’t lay flat and it was hard to get things going.”

While having another two points in the bank to go with their frozen toes would have made this event far more classic for the Canadiens, head coach Jacques Martin is aware of all the hard work that made the event such a rousing success.

“When you play an outdoor game, you know the ice conditions aren't going to be good, but you have to give credit to the staff. I thought they did a good job with it,” said Martin. “The National Hockey League did a tremendous job as far as organizing the event, as well. The people of Calgary were outstanding hosts.”          

Manny Almela is a writer for

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