FORWARD THINKING: With the struggles of the 2015-16 campaign now very much in the rear-view mirror, the Canadiens are ready to get back to the business of winning and making a run for hockey's top prize.
With that in mind, general manager Marc Bergevin made roster moves aplenty over the last few months to address several of his squad's needs and put the Canadiens in a position to turn things around as soon as possible.
Bergevin's transactions were made with the unwavering support of owner and president Geoff Molson, who was the first member of the organization to speak publically on Tuesday at the 41st edition of the event.
"Obviously, we had a disappointing year last year. That was frustrating and it keeps you up at night. When you make all those big changes in the summer, it's stressful. Marc made some major changes on this team, for the better in our opinion," offered Molson, referencing Bergevin's offseason acquisitions of Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw. "It's been a rock and roll summer - stressful at times, but here we are. We're starting a new season. We can't wait to see our current players and also our new players on the ice as a team."
Video: Geoff Molson on the team's offseason moves
Neither can head coach Michel Therrien, who certainly shares Molson's optimism with respect to what he believes the 2016-17 edition of the Canadiens is capable of accomplishing as the season rolls on. In short, the veteran bench boss fully appreciates the make-up of his roster already.
"There are a lot of positives about our team. I saw a lot of our players who've been showing up in Brossard and everyone is really excited. We have some new players on the team. Marc Bergevin has done a hell of a job in bringing in some character players," praised Therrien, before sharing some additional thoughts about his new troops.
"I think we're starting to pay a little more attention to Shea Weber. I think our fans who are watching Team Canada at the World Cup and the team concept that they have, this guy is a true leader and a demanding guy to play against," added Therrien, on the subject of the long-time former Nasvhille Predators' captain. "We also got guys like Radulov, another character guy, who has a great opportunity to show what he's capable of doing in the NHL. We also got a guy like Shaw who won two Stanley Cups. And, let's not forget Kirk Muller [coming on as an assistant coach]."
WELCOME ABOARD: Alexander Radulov has already been in his brand new hockey home for a month working out and skating at the Bell Sports Complex alongside many of his new teammates. In just over three weeks, the 30-year-old forward will suit up for his first regular season NHL game since 2012 after spending the last four seasons back in his native Russia.
Video: Radulov on his return to the NHL
On Tuesday morning, the former KHL standout made a point of stressing his team-first approach to the upcoming campaign, one he's been looking forward to kicking off ever since he signed on the dotted line with the Canadiens on July 1st.
"I want to win. I'm expecting to play well for the team and make sure the team is together and we put some winning streaks together and have good games. First of all, we've got to be a good group and stick together. That's what's going to make us successful," shared Radulov, who is eager to put his scoring prowess on full display on this side of the pond again and be a difference-maker both on and off the ice.
"The last time I played a full season in the NHL [in 2007-08], I scored 26 goals. Of course, that was a while ago, but right now I want to be like every other player, a good player. I want to make that mark and go to it. That's what I'm going to try to do. The team is going to come first, though," added Radulov, a three-time 20-goal scorer during his most recent stint in the Russian ranks.
Like Radulov, Andrew Shaw is primed to be a catalyst in game situations for the Canadiens and a good soldier in the locker room, too.
"I like to keep things light, take things seriously when you need to be, but enjoy life and have a good time. Laughter is always good and making sure that everyone feels comfortable in the locker room. I think when you feel good and you feel welcomed, you're going to play better. The team creates that chemistry and you go out there and play for one another," shared the 25-year-old Belleville, ON native, who brings 322 games of NHL experience with the Chicago Blackhawks along with him to Montreal. "I'm excited to make a bigger family here, spend a lot of time with the guys and have a lot of fun along the way."
TWO GOALTENDERS, ONE SPOT: Goaltender Mike Condon finds himself in familiar territory with the start a new NHL season on the horizon. Last year, the 26-year-old Princeton University grad outdueled Dustin Tokarski for the back-up role behind Carey Price. Now, he'll likely be going up against newcomer Al Montoya at training camp to earn the coveted position again.
Experience has taught Condon that taking things as they come in these types of situations is the only way to really put yourself in a position to succeed down the line.
Video: Condon on the battle between the pipes
"It's my fifth year pro, and the biggest thing I've learned so far is there's only so much that you can control. For me, I'm at my best when I take care of things day by day, staying in the moment and not getting too far ahead of myself," shared Condon, who posted a 21-25-3 record, a 2.71 goals-against average, and a .903 save percentage in 55 appearances for the Canadiens last season. "My goal for training camp is getting my focus as nailed down as possible."
The Canadiens' signing of Montoya didn't catch Condon by surprise, though. Given the injury woes NHL teams can experience at any given time, adding depth between the pipes is a key to success. In this case, Condon believes he can actually learn from Montoya's experience.
"I only see it as a positive to get to learn from another goalie," said Condon. "He's a guy who's been in the league for a long time and I can pick his brain."
Similarly, Montoya isn't spending his time thinking about besting Condon for a roster spot. His focus remains on just performing to the best of his abilities.
"That's not my main concern. I'm here to help this team win games. That's going to be my main focus, getting used to this team and this environment, and working on that to get ready for the season," said Montoya, who is set to begin his 12th year in the pros. "I'm here to earn it every single night. I'm going to do everything I can to get those victories."
The prospect of potentially playing behind Price has Montoya smiling bright. Admittedly, the University of Michigan product already soaked up a great deal of knowledge while watching Roberto Luongo ply his trade in South Florida over the last two seasons, so the chance to join forces with Price is something Montoya would definitely enjoy.
"For the last few years, I played behind Luongo, who probably had his two best years of his career. You learn. Through my years, I've grown to understand my role. But, at the same time, I know what I'm capable of," said Montoya. "When that time comes in those big games, it's a time to go in and win and steal a game. I've had the opportunity to play with some fantastic goaltenders. This is just another one to add to the list."