MONTREAL – While no one has put out any milk or cookies for Santa quite yet, Christmas came early for the Habs this year as they unwrapped their brand new state-of-the-art practice facility on Monday.
Slated to be the Canadiens’ home away from the Bell Centre on every day but game days, the Bell Sports Complex, which includes a pair of ice surfaces, has already blown the players away.
“This place is top notch. It’s so big I haven’t even seen it all yet. You could even play hide and go seek in here and no one would ever find you,” said Price. “We’ve got everything here. The TVs here are bigger than what I’ve got at home. I may never leave!”
While the hot tubs got the most love from the guys in an informal poll of the dressing room, the players couldn’t say enough about their new digs.
“This is a huge change and something that will help us all,” said Saku Koivu. “Having the ice to ourselves and never being rushed to leave to catch our bus back to Bell Centre will be a big plus. The gym here is incredible too; it doesn’t get any better than this.”
The new building got to flex a bit of its muscle at the Habs’ first official practice at the Brossard complex. Once a plate of glass was shattered by a shot this morning, the players were able to simply move over to the second ice surface rather than having to wait until the problem was fixed.
“Having the two surfaces will be very useful for us,” explained head coach Guy Carbonneau. “It will allow us to even have two practices going on at once, or for a coach to move over to the other side to let’s say work on the power play or with the goalies as the practice is going on. This is an amazing facility. It kind of makes me wish I was still playing.”
Carbonneau’s former teammate Patrice Brisebois knows exactly where his coach is coming from. The veteran defenseman thought he had seen it all over his 17-year NHL career, but the new facility had him almost speechless.
“The Canadiens do everything first class and this to me is just another example of that,” he said. “My hat goes off to the Gillett family and the organization for making this possible for us.”
A long way from the amenities he enjoyed as a rookie at the Forum back in the early 90s, Brisebois pulled no punches regarding how far things have come since then.
“What gym at the Forum?” quipped the rearguard when asked about the facilities at his first hockey home with the Habs. “Oh, do you mean the broom closest with two stationary bikes and a couple of dumbbells?”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
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