Undoubtedly one of the brightest stars on the Canadiens roster, Jose Theodore (at right, alongside team GM Bob Gainey) will enter the 2005-06 campaign as the go-to man between the pipes for Montreal.
MONTREAL - Less than two weeks from the start of training camp, Canadiens fans can breathe a bit easier. GM Bob Gainey announced Friday the signing of Jose Theodore to a three-year contract, ending what had become a closely-followed negotiation process between the star goaltender and the team.
Facing a room full of journalists at the start of the Labor Day long weekend, the Canadiens' netminder smile was bright, and it wasn't because of the braces he had recently been wearing.
"I had a feeling I would be signing soon, so I had them taken off yesterday," the goaltender said with a laugh.
Confidence went a long way for Theodore during the negotiation process. Acknowledging the professionalism and open communication on both sides throughout the talks, he admitted he was happy to have a contract ahead of Tuesday's annual team golf tournament and said leaving Montreal wasn't an option he had had much interest in exploring.
"I take a lot of pride in playing for this team," said Theodore. "I don't want to go anywhere else and win games. I want to win them here so I'm happy we've got three years to do that."
The netminder added that the positive outlook for the club was another reason he wanted to stay in Montreal.
"Bob [Gainey] arrived and with the coaching staff and the players that we have, we're really building something," he noted. "I didn't want to leave midway through or when we're almost there."
Theodore, who will turn 29 on Sept. 13, will begin his ninth season with the Canadiens. In 2004-05, he played in 17 games with Djurgardens in the Swedish Elite Division, posting a 2.46 goals-against average. He led his team to the league semifinals, posting a 2.23 GAA in 12 games.
The recipient of the NHL's Vezina and Hart Trophies in 2002 as the league's top goaltender and most valuable player, respectively, Theodore has played in 315 career regular season games in the NHL, posting a 2.52 GAA and a .914 save percentage. His accomplishments were not lost on the team's GM.
"I think Jose has often been the difference for the team during the season," said Bob Gainey. "He's been the player that's been most prominent in the playoffs. He's the player on our team who has won individual awards."
A native of Laval, Quebec, Theodore played in a career-high 67 games with the Canadiens in 2003-04. He recorded a personal-best 33 wins (fourth in the NHL), 28 losses and five ties. He maintained a 2.27 GAA and a .919 save percentage.
Theodore was the Canadiens' second round pick and 44th overall selection in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.
Heather Engel is the Assistant Site Manager of canadiens.com.