The new kid
MONTREAL – Being the new guy on a team is never easy, and it’s even tougher when you arrive in a new locker room with less than 20 games to go. That’s why Brad Staubitz made sure his teammates knew he had their backs from day one.
The Canmore, AB native didn’t waste any time putting his stamp on his new team, spending 17 minutes in the penalty box and squaring off against Tampa Bay forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie in his first game as a Hab.
Staubitz dropped the gloves 15 times in 62 games this season, finishing ninth in the NHL in fighting majors. Six of those tilts came in a Canadiens jersey, after being claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Feb. 27.
“It’s been good experience to play with this organization,” expressed the 27-year-old winger, who played his entire junior hockey as a defenseman before switching to forward in the pros. “Right now for me, hopefully, I can find a role for myself and a job for myself with this team down the road.”
Staubitz, who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this July, would love nothing more than to be back at his stall at the Bell Centre come September.
“I’d love to be able to stay here and hopefully have an opportunity here. This organization is world-class. Everyone knows the history. I love playing in a Canadian city and there are some great guys on this team and a lot of potential on this team. I definitely want to be part of it,” shared Staubitz who scored his first goal of the season in the team’s final game of the year on Apr. 7.
In the meantime, the rugged forward will be using the summer to work out in order to come back to training camp a more versatile player.
“I’m going back to Sarnia to train. I think I just have to keep improving as a player – raise my skill level, work on getting faster, learn my job and figure out how I can contribute here,” shared Staubitz who played his 200th NHL career game on Mar. 6. “You need to keep going individually and as a team. This year has been a tough year for me, being shifted around a little bit. Ending up here to finish off the year was nice.”
To make sure he picks up where he left off, the Habs heavyweight will be making a few adjustments to his usual offseason game plan.
“You need to learn and look back on the season and recap on it and kind of look at what you can change and what you can improve on. You take the summer as a growth period to come back better and stronger,” he explained. “Then you need to mentally and physically get prepared to learn from what went wrong and figure out what needs to change with your game. This game is changing a lot; the NHL itself is changing. To be successful, you have to adjust with it and you need to grow with it.”
Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com.