BROSSARD – While several of their teammates were in action in Sochi, the Canadiens held a practice at the Bell Sports Complex, the team’s first since the start of the Olympic break.
- It would seem that the Canadiens’ general manager had done some recruiting recently, talking a pair of former Habs into filling in for the likes of P.K. Subban and Carey Price while they were away in Russia.
“I’d really like to thank Marc [Bergevin] for giving me this opportunity,” laughed Patrice Brisebois, who patrolled the blue line during the afternoon skate. After playing 16 seasons with the Canadiens, the team’s former assistant captain now works in player development with the organization’s prospects.
Reliving his glory days might just help Brisebois identify better with his young charges.
“Last night, before going to bed, I was excited to come back and play, just like a rookie before his first training camp. The practice went well; I had a lot of fun. We mostly worked on simple things today, but next time we will most likely do some one-on-ones, two-on-ones and three-on-twos. That’ll be a good test for me.”
- Another familiar face for long-time Habs fans was that of retired goaltender Jocelyn Thibault, who was talked into subbing for Price and Peter Budaj in nets on Wednesday by goaltending coach Stephane Waite.
“Let’s say that I don’t put on my goalie pads much anymore. I might be a better defenseman than a goaltender right now,” admitted Thibault. “I hesitated for a moment when Stephane Waite called to invite me to the practice, but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot.”
Despite last playing in the NHL five seasons ago, Thibault did not look too out of place on the ice, making a few nice saves against players old enough to be his sons, such as Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk.
“The pace of play was very fast. The kids had some nice moves. It’s rare that I face this level of players when I play net nowadays, but I felt more at ease with the speed as practice progressed. It’s kind of like riding a bike. I’ve lost quite a bit of my timing, but not all of it!”
- Other special guests on the ice included recruitment coordinator Ken Morin, strength coach Pierre Allaire and Martin Houle, a former Flyers draft pick who tended goal opposite Thibault at practice.
- Alex Galchenyuk, on the comeback trail from a hand injury, skated alongside his teammates for the first time in over six weeks.
“It’s my first practice with the team and I feel that I’m on the right path,” offered the youngster. “I am still looking to get more speed and flexibility back into my hand, which would help me on moves like toe-drags, since I was in a cast for three weeks. The movements have to become natural again.”
- Travis Moen, who suffered a lower-body injury in the days leading up to the break, used his time off to get back to health.
“We traveled down to Florida, where I had a chance to visit a clinic and do some rehab work. It was good timing for me to have those days off,” revealed the veteran winger. “Hopefully, I’ll be ready to play next week, when the season resumes.”
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