BROSSARD – David Desharnais was all smiles at the Habs’ Friday morning practice – and with good reason.
Marc Bergevin and the rest of the Canadiens upper-management offered some further insight into their vision of the club’s future on Friday morning, with the announcement of a four-year contract extension for center David Desharnais. Locked up until the 2016-17 season, the Laurier-Station native joins the likes of Max Pacioretty, Josh Gorges, Tomas Plekanec and Carey Price as key members of the Habs’ foundation heading into the future.
“I couldn’t be any happier right now. To be part of the Canadiens, for me, means an incredible amount,” shared Desharnais, following the team’s Friday morning skate, a few hours before taking off to New Jersey to face the Devils on Saturday. “I was hoping this was coming, I just didn’t know when. I’ve been thinking back to all the people who helped me a along the way and who believed in me. This is a great validation.”
Passed over at the entry draft, Desharnais’s road to the NHL wasn’t an easy one. In fact, he was only introduced to the Canadiens organization thanks to a recommendation from Guy Carbonneau, co-owner of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens, after seeing the young center in action as part of his team.
“There are always doubts and more often than once you have to pick yourself up and get ready to come back and fight harder than ever for what you want,” added Desharnais. “When I entered the ECHL, there was definitely some doubt in my mind, but it ended up being the best year of my life and things have only continued to get better since.”
During that 2007-08 campaign with the Cincinnati Cyclones, Desharnais exploded with 106 points in 68 games, becoming only the fourth rookie in 20 years to lead the ECHL in scoring. The breakout season earned him a contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he continued to distinguish himself, eventually carving out a spot for himself in the Canadiens lineup.
“Here’s a player who was undrafted, dominated in the ECHL, then got his chance in the AHL and dominated there. Then he finally got his chance in the NHL and now he’s established himself here,” praised head coach Michel Therrien, of the 5-foot-7, 177 pound center’s determination. “David is a guy who’s proved himself every step of the way by showing his perseverance and character. We’re looking to build our team around good people and he’s one hell of a good person. We’re happy to have him here.”
One player in the Canadiens’ dressing room that knows, perhaps better than anyone else, what the accomplishment means for Desharnais, is long-time friend and linemate, Max Pacioretty. Since developing a tandem that strectched all the way back from their early days with the Bulldogs right up until the present, Pacioretty has been a staunch supporter of Deharnais ability to excel in the NHL from his first days with the team.
“It shows how much confidence they have in the players in this room,” pointed out Pacioretty. “As much as they can tell us they have confidence, going out and signing Davy for four years really shows how much they trust him and how valuable they think he is to this team. All the players knew it and I guess this is just a little insurance that the management knew it as well.
“Every day that I’ve known him, he’s done everything it takes to get a deal like that,” added the winger, who advised fans to expect more of the same moving forward. “I know his personality – now that he has that deal, it doesn’t change anything other than he’s locked up for four more years now, but he’s still going to keep working just as hard every day.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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