BROSSARD – After a busy day of medicals and media scrums, the 64 players at training camp were back doing what they do best: playing hockey. One Habs prospect stood out of the bunch in the first scrimmage of training camp, rugged Russian blue-liner Alexei Yemelin.
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin was impressed with what he saw in the team's first intrasquad game.
“In the past three years here, I’ve never seen a scrimmage with as much contact and physicality,” marveled the Habs bench boss.
Yemelin might have something to do with that. The Canadiens' third round pick at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft was out to prove himself on his first practice with his new team.
“I needed to show myself,” confided the defenseman, who mixed it up in the corners with seasoned vets like Erik Cole
. “That’s what I tried to do out there.”
The transition between the KHL and NHL might be hard at times, but the ex-AK Bars Kazan rearguard did his homework before arriving for camp.
“I watched a lot of NHL games when I was in Russia,” explained Yemelin. “I also played on the Russian team and the guys told me there were really fast players here. So I made sure I was ready.”
His pre-camp studying seems to have paid off on Day 1, eliciting high praise from his coach.
“It was a really good performance by Yemelin,” conveyed Martin. “He brings an important physical element to his game. He also knows how to get around the rink which could give us a great dimension to our defensive corp.”
Martin is optimisitc about Yemelin's future but realizes there’s still work to be done with the 25-year-old Russian prospect.
“Adjustments will have to be made with Yemelin. He will have to get used to the size of the rink,” he explained. “The game is different.” Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com. SEE ALSOYemelin hits the iceYemelin highlight packageWelcome to training camp 64 players to attend the Montreal Canadiens Training Camp