BROSSARD – With back-to-back preseason games against the Carolina Hurricanes slated for Friday and Saturday, Michel Therrien’s troops received both good and bad news on Thursday morning before their practice at the Bell Sports Complex.
For those who prefer to have the bad news first, defensemen Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray are still day-to-day with lower-body injuries, though Therrien says there’s no cause for concern in their cases.
“These are training camp injuries. It’s nothing major, and we are just making sure not to aggravate those injuries [by sending Murray and Bouillon onto the ice],” the Habs’ head coach explained.
Meanwhile, Davis Drewiske will be out for the next four weeks with a shoulder injury suffered in practice on Wednesday.
“Drewiske will be out for a month. His injury is more serious, but that’s why you need to have a lot of good defensemen in your system,” Therrien said. “We recalled [Darren] Dietz, who was in Kingston [when we got in touch with him]. He had to make a U-turn and come back to Montreal.”
The 20-year-old Dietz was bound for the Hamilton Bulldog’s training camp when he got a call on his cell phone, leaving him in a difficult situation ahead of Thursday morning’s practice.
“All of my equipment had already been transferred to Hamilton, so [the staff] set me up with an old pair of Travis Moen’s skates and some new gear,” Dietz revealed.
While it’s never easy to play the game at a high level while wearing skates half a size too big, the Medicine Hat, AB native simply put on two pairs of socks and went about his business.
“I’ll play with anything here,” confirmed Dietz, who was cut from the Canadiens training camp just a few days ago before the recent turn of events gave him a second crack at an NHL roster.
While injury woes on the blue line have provided an unexpected lifeline to Dietz, team captain Brian Gionta is stepping up his preseason preparations after overcoming a left bicep injury, which required offseason surgery. Cleared for full contact at the beginning the week, the Rochester, NY native is feeling good about his comeback timeline and looking forward to suiting up for a game as soon as possible.
“There are no restrictions when it comes to contact. My shot didn’t suffer much. Now it’s just about getting in shape and ready to play,” he announced. “I’d like to get into at least one preseason game, if not more. It’s good for getting your timing down, since the intensity and battle level [in a preseason game] is much higher than anything you would get at practice.”
Not only is Gionta on-track for a speedy recovery, but he received an additional piece of good news on Thursday when the Canadiens organization named him the recipient of the 2012-13 Jean Beliveau Trophy, an award given annually to a Canadiens player who has demonstrated selfless dedication and commitment to the community. Over the past few seasons, the Canadiens’ captain has been inviting underprivileged children to catch games at the Bell Centre from the comfort of a loge.
“We feel proud to be able to help kids in need, and we feel lucky and fortunate to be able to do that for people,” Gionta said.
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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