Frederic St-Denis’ path to the Canadiens’ dressing room wasn’t exactly lined with a red carpet. But when the free agent market opened this July 1, the Greenfield Park native realized a childhood dream, signing his first contract with his hometown Habs.
After enjoying a career year with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2009-10, the 24-year-old defenseman isn’t about to start pinching himself now.
“I’ve never stopped working. I’ve spent the last two years in Hamilton trying to earn my spot and prove myself,” offered St-Denis. “It wasn’t easy. I had to just work hard and be patient. Once I got the opportunity to prove my worth, I grabbed it and never let go.”
In 59 games in his first full AHL season, the young blue-liner picked up 17 points and posted a plus-20 differential, despite having a rough start to the campaign.
“At the start of the year, I didn’t play a lot,” admitted St-Denis, who was coming off a lighter load of 28 games in 2007-08 at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières. “That just made me work harder in the gym and on the ice. I made a lot of sacrifices to make it happen.”
His five seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs didn’t hurt his eventual smooth transition to the AHL.
“It wasn’t easy at first to,” admitted St-Denis. “It was a whole new world for me. But I was well surrounded in Junior and I got used to playing a lot of games and that really helped my development.”
Now that he’s in Montreal, St-Denis hopes he’s here to stay. With his feet nonetheless firmly planted on the ground, he knows he still has a lot of work ahead of him.
“I really want to give it all I’ve got at training camp and get there ready to go,” vowed St-Denis. “You never know what’s going to happen. There could be a few injuries or something. I know there are a lot of really good defensemen in the organization, but I’ll do all I can to make my dream come true.”
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis and Manny Almela.
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