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Welcome to training camp

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
BROSSARD --The boys were back together again in Brossard, Friday morning, for the first day of the Canadiens’ 2011-12 training camp.

Competitive nature: All smiles and sweat after hitting the gym for some first day fitness testing, Habs’ veteran Mathieu Darche met with the local media at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard to confirm that while there may be no trophy awarded for the best test score, in the Canadiens’ gym, bragging rights are good enough.

“You do everything you can both on and off the ice, and it’s great because we’re all also very
Training Camp Photo Gallery
competitive and always trying to beat each other at everything, whether it’s during practice or even in these fitness tests. Whenever we get to a station we always check to see how the guy before us did and then try to beat him. I did lose my bet with Travis Moen though, so that’s too bad,” confessed the Canadiens 2010-11 nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

“But as far as I’m concerned, age should have nothing to do with it for me. I work really hard, and while I might be one of the older guys here, I’m also shooting to be one of the fittest.”

Reach advantage: After developing some pretty impressive chemistry on the blueline with rookie P.K. Subban last season, Hal Gill found himself faced with the question of who he will choose as his defensive partner with Josh Gorges set to return to the lineup in 2011-12.

“It’s gonna be tough. I feel like the good looking girl at the prom,” answered Gill. “It’s a new season. I enjoy playing with P.K., I also enjoy playing with Gorges, so it depends where the chemistry for the whole team lies, but hey, that’s what coaches are for, and depth on defense is a great problem to have.”

When asked which of the fitness tests he had just completed was his strongest, the Habs’ resident giant didn’t have to think to hard for an answer, “The reach test,” he confirmed, “I’m really good at that.”

Captain’s quote: Following Andrei Markov’s press conference in which he confirmed that his recovery process would need to continue a while longer, Canadiens’ captain, Brian Gionta also addressed the media, making it clear that their all-star defenseman’s long term well being was the primary concern of himself and the team.

“Guys are more concerned with making sure that he’s going to be alright for the long term and he comes back at 100%,” expressed Gionta. “He’s had a tough two years and at the end of the day you need to make sure everything’s in order before he gets back to playing.”

Making the leap: Taking part in your first NHL training camp is obviously a daunting experience for any rookie – having to adapt to a new style of hockey at the same time doesn’t make things any easier, just ask one of the Habs newest faces, Raphael Diaz.

“This is definitely a huge step in my life and my career, but I want to learn and I want to get better. This is the right time for me to make this leap,” said Diaz. “The difference in ice size alone is a huge adjustment. The game is also a bit faster and there’s definitely a lot more contact. There are a lot of big guys in this league; you have to play smart hockey.”

The newest ingredient: Tomas Plekanec, like the rest of him teammates, is happy to welcome Erik Cole into the Canadiens’ mix. Asked about the possibility of seeing the newcomer complete a trio with him and Michael Cammalleri, the Czech forward was quick to point out that hockey is a team sport.

“He’s an excellent edition to our team. Not just for our line, but for everyone on the roster. We have a lot of great line options at this point,” dropped Plekanec. “Whether he plays with us or with Gomez and someone else, it gives the coach a lot more to work with when it comes to making his lines.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for

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