MONTREAL – If a defenseman’s mood is a direct reflection of his level of on-ice responsibility, it’s no wonder Josh Gorges
was all smiles during the 2009-10 campaign.
Averaging 21 minutes of ice time per game, Gorges emerged as a rock on the Canadiens’ blue line this year following the injury to All-Star defenseman Andrei Markov
in the first game of the season.
Far from weighing down the 25-year-old rearguard, the increased load Gorges was asked to carry this season served to push him out of his comfort zone and help him emerge as one of the team’s leaders on and off the ice.
“With the changes we had this year, there were a lot of new faces and a lot of uncertainties coming into the season,” admitted Gorges of the offseason makeover the Habs underwent last summer. “I’m maybe not the oldest guy or the most experienced guy in the room, but I’ve been a part of this team longer than almost anyone here now. I think the more the season progressed, I started to feel more comfortable standing up in the room, talking more and taking control at time.”
Gorges’ boost in confidence could also have something to do with the laid-back veteran he patrolled the Canadiens’ zone with this year.
“Having a guy like Hal Gill beside me obviously brings a certain level of confidence when it comes to leadership, knowing I have a guy like him behind me for support,” offered the 25-year-old. “Obviously once you start to get to know your teammates better, you start feeling more comfortable talking about different situations with them. We’re comfortable holding each other accountable and being held accountable, too.
The Canadiens’ current Iron Man, Gorges has suited up for 114 straight games including all 101 this year. A true warrior, despite taking a Mike Green slapshot to the back of his head that left him lying in a pool of blood this February, Gorges didn’t miss a single practice let alone the next game.
That wasn’t the only time Gorges sacrificed his body for the team this year, either. With 158 blocked shots this season, the Kelowna, BC native led the Habs in that category and finished 12th overall in the league.
With a relentless will to win and overcome adversity, the undrafted stalwart seems tailor-made for life with the Canadiens. He loves Montreal and Montreal loves him right back.
“This is where I want to be,” emphasized Gorges, who has one more year left on his current contract. “This is where I want to play and this is where I want to win.”Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.See alsoYear in review – Marc-Andre BergeronVote for the Habs' best rookie in 2009-10 The boss checks in Going camping - Day 3