TERREBONNE – Michel Therrien called his troops together for a special offseason gathering, far from the confines of the rink or the gym.
The Canadiens’ head coach hosted the inaugural Michel Therrien Invitational Golf Tournament at Le Mirage on Tuesday. Still a few weeks from the opening of training camp, a handful of Habs players made the trek to Terrebonne to swap their hockey sticks for golf clubs for a good cause. All told, the tournament raised $94,990 for the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
“Hockey has been good to me and I wanted to give back to the community. I’m so proud to see this many players, celebrities and Canadiens alumni out here helping me raise money for the Foundation,” shared Therrien, who insisted every dollar raised at the tournament would go towards developing hockey in Quebec. “This money will help provide equipment to kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it and who need help. I’m so happy to see the support we’ve received from people organizing this event and making today possible. It’s all for a great cause. I want to give back as much as possible.”
In addition to gearing up for a day on the links, Therrien has also been prepping for the start of the season and was ready to face the inevitable questions about his plans heading into the October 1 opener against the Leafs.
“We’ll let training camp run its course. We’ll see how the chemistry clicks between certain players. I have a plan in mind, but honestly, we’ll use the exhibition games and discuss after that,” stressed Therrien, who admitted he’s excited about the acquisitions Marc Bergevin has made during the offseason.
Another tournament participant, Brandon Prust – who is back to 100% after suffering a shoulder injury at the end of the season – was also pumped about the team’s bolstered lineup, especially with regards to the addition of a fellow bash brother.
“It’s always nice to get a little help. He’s a big guy, a veteran and I’ve heard he’s a great person. We’re really happy to have him with us,” described Prust of new Habs heavyweight George Parros, who he has yet to square off against in his career. “We’ve never fought each other. He’s a little big for me. I’ve always tried to stay on his good side. Like, ‘Hey George, how’s it going!’”
Prust isn’t the only member of the Habs who showed up ready to prove he’ll be in fine form for the start of the season; Lars Eller arrived fresh from his flight from Denmark, seemingly primed for a breakout year.
“I had a great summer. It was good to go home and recharge physically and mentally. I’m really excited about getting started. I’ve been training at 100% since I got back in the gym a couple of weeks after the season. I’m not behind in terms of that at all,” explained Eller, who is in peak condition heading into camp.
Despite suffering a traumatic injury in the 2013 Playoffs, the 24-year-old forward has no reservations about making a successful return to action.
“I don’t really remember much of [the incident]. I’ve had injuries before that I thought more about, like ‘How is this going to go or affect my game’,” he mentioned. “In this case, I have zero fear of that because I don’t remember it.”
Another player who has been hitting the gym hard throughout the offseason is P.K. Subban. Despite winning the Norris Trophy and receiving an invitation to Team Canada’s orientation camp ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the young blue-liner insists his focus this summer has been exactly the same as it has during every offseason in the past.
“I’ve been training the same way since I was drafted. Every year, my goal is to get bigger, stronger and faster. When you have a good year or a bad year, it’s not always because of your preparation,” explained Subban, who had a career year in 2012-13. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has bigger expectations of myself than me. I always put a lot of pressure on myself to continue to get better. My job is to come to the rink every day and get better and every year get better and that’s what I’ll do.”
The question remains if the NHL’s best defenseman will manage to be the best golfer on the course on Tuesday. Although, there’s a good chance he’ll let his coach take those honors – it is his tournament, after all.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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