Battle tested

Saturday, 07.09.2013 / 2:22 PM canadiens.com

BROSSARD – Taking lessons learned during his rookie year in pro hockey to heart has readied Greg Pateryn for the season ahead.

Participating in Canadiens rookie camp at the Bell Sports Complex after spending the 2012-13 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Sterling Heights, MI native returned to Montreal focused squarely on showing Habs brass that his inaugural AHL campaign and subsequent off-season workout regimen have yielded positive results.

“One of my main goals [over the summer] was to get faster and stronger,” affirmed the 23-year-old defenseman, whose summer fitness program in Michigan targeted explosiveness and power and also included skating sessions alongside NHLers Jack Johnson, Matt Hunwick, Ryan Kesler, David Moss and Shawn Horcoff. “I want to showcase my size and physicality. I want to be one of the biggest and [meanest] guys out there, but keep things under control. I want to show what I’ve worked on, and make [management’s] decision difficult.

“I feel confident, especially with getting a little taste of what it was like last year,” added Pateryn, who finished tied for first among Bulldogs defensemen with seven goals in 39 games played last year. “Coming back and feeling more comfortable around the guys and being able to skate with them, getting an opportunity to know some of them, I think that translates to confidence on the ice.”

Having made his NHL debut with the Canadiens last March after being sidelined for 36 AHL games with a fractured elbow, Pateryn’s poise and sense of self-assurance are by no means surprising. While he openly admits that his recovery from surgery was frustrating at times, the University of Michigan alum noted that it was added motivation to return to form as soon as possible.

“I feel like I started out pretty well [in Hamilton]. I had an unfortunate bounce where I had the injury that kept me out for three months. Maybe things would have turned out differently, but that’s the way this business goes. You’ve just got to go with it,” admitted the 6-foot-2, 214-pound rearguard who averaged 9:36 of ice time in three tilts with the Habs in 2012-13. “I just tried to get back to my game and keep things simple and do the things that I did right. That paid off for me. [The staff in Hamilton] did a really good job of keeping my confidence up and teaching me because they know I want to learn.”

Taking that same open-mindedness along with him to the NHL taught the former fifth-round selection of the Maple Leafs back in 2008 that success at hockey’s highest level is a long-term investment.

“You get a good idea of what it takes be there and to stay there. It’s one thing to play a couple of games in the NHL, but it’s another thing to play 82 games in a season,” mentioned Pateryn, who played alongside veteran defenseman Francis Bouillon on the Canadiens blueline. “That’s something you pick up from the older guys, the guys who’ve been there and you see what you need to do. It really gets drilled in your head what you need to do. I think that’s the big difference in players who make it and players who don’t. Getting that early in my first season was huge. It just helps you find out what you need to do every single day.”

With his sophomore pro season on the horizon, Pateryn will look to take each one of those days in stride, playing to his strengths while striving to achieve his objective.

“The number one goal is to make the team [in Montreal]. I want to show them that I’m ready to be here for the entire season,” he confirmed. “[It’s about] keeping things simple, [and] sticking to what I do best.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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