BROSSARD, Quebec -- Tomas Plekanec couldn't imagine playing anywhere else, and the Montreal Canadiens felt the same way.
Plekanec signed a two-year contract extension with the Canadiens on Friday worth a reported $12 million that will keep him with his only NHL team through the 2017-18 season.
"The first thing you obviously ask yourself and talk about is, 'Do you want to stay in Montreal?'" Plekanec said. "There was no question about that, so then they could start talking and make a deal."
The $6 million NHL salary-cap charge is a $1 million annual increase on his current contract, but the two-year term gives the Canadiens some much-needed flexibility in the future. Plekanec's new contract will expire at the same time as the six-year, $39 million contract of goaltender Carey Price, and it's fair to assume the Canadiens will need some additional room under the salary cap to accommodate what will likely be a hefty raise for Price.
Plekanec said he never gave any thought to waiting for more years on the contract, even though he will be 35 when it ends, meaning his next contract will count against a team's salary cap even if he retires.
But Plekanec is not thinking about that right now, because two weeks shy of his 33rd birthday on Oct. 31 he is still a very effective player.
Plekanec has four goals in five games this season centering Montreal's top line with captain Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, playing on the top power-play and penalty-killing units, as he has for the majority of his 10-year career.
"We use him because we trust his game, and that's the most important thing," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "You know that he's not going to cheat to get rewards. He's going to get rewards because he's going to do the right things. That's just the way he is."
Plekanec has missed 12 games in the past nine seasons and has scored at least 20 goals in seven of his past eight complete seasons, with 14 in 47 games in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
Over that time, Plekanec has earned a reputation as the consummate professional, often the first on the ice for practice and a leader by example.
It was appropriate Plekanec got the news of the contract from his agent Rick Curran as he was getting dressed to take the ice for an optional practice Friday, one of five Canadiens regulars to take the option to skate.
When Pacioretty heard the news of the contract while the practice was going on, he stepped out to the rink and gave Plekanec a round of applause.
"He's a sneaky guy. He didn't tell anyone. So I wanted to make sure he was a little embarrassed. He's a humble person, that's the way he is. Everyone's really excited for him," Pacioretty said. "I've said it before, but that's why he's so respected in our room, is he doesn't need recognition. He's going to show up and be a professional every day. He skated today. He sets a good example for all of us as to how to prepare for the game and play the right way on the ice as well."
If Plekanec remains healthy, he has a chance to become one of the top players in Canadiens history.
If he plays every game between now and the end of his new contract, a strong possibility considering his track record of durability, Plekanec will reach 1,007 games played. That would rank fifth in Canadiens history, behind Henri Richard (1,256), Larry Robinson (1,202), Bob Gainey (1,160) and Jean Beliveau (1,125).
If Plekanec averages 50 points over the next three seasons, just below his average of 54.6 points over his past eight full seasons, he would reach 649 points and sit 10th on the Canadiens all-time list.
Looking around the Canadiens dressing room, with the pictures of 45 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame looking down on him, Plekanec does not yet feel he belongs in that conversation.
There is one thing missing, and with his Canadiens off to a 5-0-0 start playing in front of the best goaltender in the NHL, this might be the year it is addressed.
"You look at all these guys around the room on the pictures, they won the Stanley Cup, and that's the big difference. If we win the Stanley Cup, then that's fine," Plekanec said. "That's why me personally, I would never go there. … The Stanley Cup is the mark for me. If we win the Stanley Cup, then ask me then."