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O'Byrne will be missed; Habs focusing on Bruins

by Magalie Lafreni?re
BOSTON -- At breakfast Thursday, Ryan O'Byrne sat laughing with his teammates and chatted about the Bruins' come-from-behind 7-4 win against the Penguins the previous night. By the time Thursday's practice started, however, the 26-year-old defenseman was the newest member of the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's pretty sudden, but at the same time it's an opportunity I'm looking forward to," O'Byrne told "Your heart is kind of pumping a little still and obviously I haven't been traded since my second year in junior, so it's a different feeling. At the same time, it's an opportunity for me to play.  Obviously, we are pretty deep defensively here in Montreal and I haven't played much and I'm a young defenseman and you got to play, that's the bottom line."

And as much as it's an opportunity for O'Byrne to start fresh, it's also opportunity for the Canadiens to acquire a young prospect and one with a French-Canadian background. In exchange for O'Byrne, the Habs acquired left wing Michael Bournival, a native of Shawinigan, Que., who currently plays for Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin reflected on the change to his team.

"I think Ryan is a great young man, has a great attitude, works extremely hard and gave us some great hockey," said Martin. "Last year he played fairly well with Andrei Markov and just this year, because of our depth on the defense, he wasn't able to get into the lineup. So I see (the trade) as a great opportunity for him, and for our organization it's an opportunity to acquire a young player that hopefully will help us in the future."

"It's always sad when you see a guy leaving like that. We had great moments together, we won the Calder Cup and we took our first steps together, so obviously it's tough that way. At the same time he deserves a new start and he's going to have the chance to show he's a good player somewhere else"
-- Maxim Lapierre on Ryan O'Byrne

The 6-foot, 187-pound Bournival was selected in the third round (No. 71) by the Avalanche at the 2010 Entry Draft. In 17 games this season, Bournival leads Shawinigan with 10 goals and 24 points.

O'Byrne played in the first three games of the season -- recording one shot per game -- and has been a healthy scratch for the last 12. With the signing of Alexandre Picard this summer, O'Byrne became the eighth defenseman, with a large group of healthy veterans to overcome.

"I was waiting for that chance to get back in and there weren't any opportunities and guys were playing really well in front of me and a good veteran defense here, too, and you just sit and wait and be patient and the way it works, I ended up getting traded," said O'Byrne.

O'Byrne was drafted by Montreal in the third round (No. 79) in 2003. He's been with some of his Canadiens' teammates, such as Maxim Lapierre, who also was drafted in 2003 by Montreal, for more than five years.

"It's always sad when you see a guy leaving like that. We had great moments together, we won the Calder Cup and we took our first steps together, so obviously it's tough that way," said Lapierre. "At the same time he deserves a new start and he's going to have the chance to show he's a good player somewhere else."

Josh Gorges, especially, will miss his fellow defenseman.

"We were a couple of the single guys that didn't have wives with us, so we ate dinner together and watched movies together. We didn't have anyone else, he was my hockey wife," said Gorges. "He's a great guy, a good teammate and a good guy."

Gorges, who was traded from the Sharks to the Canadiens during the 2006-07 season gave his friend a little bit of advice this morning.

"It's not easy. It's going to suck. I told him this morning, I've been there. The first two weeks it sucks, you go into a bunch of guys you don't know, but you'll learn real fast that hockey guys are the same," said Gorges. "They're a good group of guys over there, they'll take him in. Once he gets comfortable, it's an opportunity to show what he's capable of doing."

And in the end, the Habs won't have to wait too long to see O'Byrne. The Canadiens travel to Denver for a game Dec. 19th.

"Can't wait to play him," said Lapierre with a huge grin. "It's still early, but always fun to play an old teammate. I hope everything will be OK for him."

While O'Byrne's teammates will miss him, they've got the Bruins to focus on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS).

Wednesday night, forward Michael Cammalleri kept updated on the Bruins' game in Pittsburgh through an iPhone application.

 "I picked up that they had scored five in the third," he said, "so I'm sure they are full of that CAN-fidence as we say and we'll be ready for them. Sometimes you have confidence, five goals in the third gives you CAN-fidence."

The Canadiens also know they'll have to play a strong 60 minutes to overcome this Bruins squad.

"We seem to win games when we play a very disciplined style and that's helped us," said Cammalleri. "We haven't done it all the time and I think we can improve on it, for sure. I think we're playing a team tonight that exemplified that this year."

Lapierre echoed his teammate's sentiments.

"We need a good start. We know they're on a good roll. They played good last night, a great comeback, so we just want to have a good start."

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