Summer is over and that means the hockey season is just around the corner. But before the Montreal Canadiens hit the ice, they hit the links on Tuesday for the annual Canadiens golf tournament. The tournament allows for team bonding, but it also gives the media a great opportunity to speak (and at HOHM, that’s all we care about). So read on to see what various members of the Canadiens had to say about the summer and the season ahead.
A big story leading into the season involves the new divisions, with the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers all joining Montreal in the new Atlantic Division. So while Montreal won old Northeast Division last year, GM Marc Bergevin knows repeating will be difficult.
“In our division, Toronto got better, Ottawa got better, Buffalo will be better, Boston is a good team, Detroit is coming in; it’s not going to be easy,” Bergevin said. “Out of 82 games, there will be some difficult moments. Maybe we’ll lose four or five in a row at some point. Every team will face those challenges at some point and they’ll have to adapt. It will be an intense season from beginning to end.”
Team owner Geoff Molson likes the new alignment and is excited to see all the teams come to the Bell Centre.
“It’s good news for the fans, as they’ll have the chance to see every team in the league play at the Bell Centre, and that’s a great thing,” said Molson, who prefers to not follow the predictions of so-called “experts” ahead of opening night. “It’s difficult to predict where we’ll finish and what the objectives are. We want to have the best team possible and we want to make the playoffs. When you make the playoffs, you never know what’s going to happen.”
The media scrum also gave Bergevin an opportunity to provide various injury updates.
“Brian Gionta will be ready, if not at the start of the season, then soon afterwards,” Bergevin said. “Lars Eller is doing well and will play at the start of the season. George Parros will not, but he’s also close to a return. Carey Price is one hundred percent healthy.”
Bergevin also said that defenceman Alexei Emelin won’t be returning for a couple months.
With the big Emelin unavailable, Bergevin went out and added Douglas Murray to bring grit and strong defensive play to the back end. Murray met the media for the first time since signing in Montreal.
“I liked the way that the Canadiens viewed me as a player, that’s why I wanted to sign here,” Murray said. “I’m excited to be back in Montreal, it’s always a great time.”
Finally, a popular topic all day was the contract situation of PK Subban, who won the Norris trophy last season and is entering the final year of his deal. Bergevin said he was open to get a deal done, but doesn’t like discussing contracts in public.
“I would like to get something done,” he said. “It takes two to tango.”
Molson also added his own thoughts on the Subban deal.
“As team owner, I am very proud of P.K. winning the Norris Trophy,” he said. “I know that one of Marc’s priorities is to get him signed to an extension.”
The Habs open the regular season at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 1.