Andrew Shaw is not happy to be leaving the Chicago Blackhawks after five seasons and two Stanley Cup championships, but going to play for the man who helped him reach the NHL makes that departure a little bit easier.
Shaw was acquired Friday by the Montreal Canadiens and general manager Marc Bergevin, who, as Chicago's assistant GM, was instrumental in Shaw being selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Draft and signed him to his first NHL contract.
"[Bergevin] has always liked the way I play," Shaw said Saturday. "I don't know, he likes the rat in me, or the work ethic, but he's always enjoyed watching me play and he's made sure I've known that over the years. With him, my first contract was exciting for me as well, and I owe him a lot, obviously.
"He obviously likes me as a player and went out on a limb and brought me into the NHL. He's given me that opportunity and I've kind of run with it. I owe him a lot, so I'm excited to be teamed up with him again and look forward to having success with him as well."
Video: Montreal Trades Eller for picks and picks for Shaw
Shaw, 24, can become a restricted free agent on July 1 and he was trying to negotiate a new contract with the Blackhawks, who do not have much room under the $73 million NHL salary cap for next season. With Shaw gone, Chicago has approximately $6.4 million under the cap to fill five or six roster spots, according to generalfanager.com, and general manager Stan Bowman has expressed an interest in adding a free agent defenseman.
"It's tough, I thought we were close [to an agreement]," Shaw said. "I loved being in Chicago, obviously; it's a second home to me. A lot of great memories there, I had some fun playing there. I have a lot of friends and family in that city, so I'm going to miss it dearly, that's for sure.
"I've got a fresh start with a new team and I'm excited about that. It's going to be fun."
Bergevin and Shaw's agent, Pat Brisson, were seen talking at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo just before the trade was announced Friday, and there have been reports of a long-term contract being in the works. But Shaw wouldn't comment on his contract status, other than to say he doesn't anticipate a problem in coming to terms with the Canadiens.
"They're busy right now with the draft today and free agency coming up," Shaw said. "There's a lot going on, so it's kind of just play ball, be patient and just wait for it."
Shaw has 70 goals and 137 points in 322 NHL regular-season games and 16 goals and 35 points in 67 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He scored an NHL career-high 20 goals in 2013-14, two shy of his highest-scoring junior season with Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League in 2010-11.
Though he is leaving one of the most successful teams in the NHL to go to one that has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993, Shaw said he feels the Canadiens are not far from ending that drought.
"The team that we have, we're a young, talented, hardworking team," he said. "We're going to work together, we're going to compete, and I like our chances. It would be awesome to bring the Cup back to Montreal … It would be fun to be a part of."
Video: STL@CHI, Gm6: Shaw finishes Kane's pretty feed
Bergevin said Friday that Shaw is similar to Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher in that he plays an agitating style and is highly competitive. Shaw welcomed the comparison when told about it Saturday.
"Me and Brendan Gallagher have had some fun battles, and now I'm excited to be on his side," he said. "We can annoy people together, I guess."
One of Shaw's most appealing attributes to the Canadiens is his versatility. He can play center or right wing, saw significant minutes on the penalty kill and as a net-front guy on the power play with Chicago, and played up and down the lineup, spending most of his time at 5-on-5 this season playing with top center Jonathan Toews but also slotting in often on the fourth line.
Shaw said the reason he's able to play so many roles comes down to one of the attributes Bergevin liked most about him when he scouted him in the OHL.
"It's probably my competitiveness," Shaw said. "I obviously love winning; I can't play cards without getting mad if I lose. I always do my best to win and have fun while I'm doing it. I just try to create as much chemistry as I can with my linemates through the whole team and kind of run with it that way."
Shaw said he can't wait to get that process started, noting he is not accustomed to having such a long summer after years of success with the Blackhawks.
"I had five years in Chicago, two championships, a lot of friends, a lot of family, a lot of good memories there," Shaw said. "I'm ready to move on and start a new chapter in my life, so I'm excited it's going to be with Montreal and I hope everyone feels the same way."