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Training Camp/Exhibition Season


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LAVAL, Que. -- Aside from veteran defenceman Andrei Markov, the players returning from major injuries were all upbeat about the new season as the Montreal Canadiens gathered Wednesday for their annual charity golf tournament.

Winger Max Pacioretty, who survived a harrowing crash into a Bell Centre stanchion that left him with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra, said he feels 100 per cent ready to go.

Defenceman Josh Gorges, who missed half the season after blowing out a knee, said he can finally skate without looking like he'll fall over after rebuilding his stride in the off-season.

And centre Lars Eller said that while post-season shoulder surgery may keep him out of pre-season action, he should be ready when the Canadiens open the campaign Oct. 6 against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

That left Markov as the mystery man.

The Canadiens' star defenceman played only seven games last season as he went down for a second year in a row with damage to the ACL ligament the same knee.

He was one of the few veterans not paraded out to the throng of media in front of the clubhouse before the golf began.

When asked if Markov would be ready to start the regular season, general manager Pierre Gauthier said "we hope so."

"There is no problem with his knee and he will continue his rehab. If the season started tomorrow he wouldn't be able to play, obviously."

Gauthier took a chance in June when he signed impending free agent Markov to a three-year contract that will pay him US$5.75 million per season. He didn't try to sign free agent veteran Roman Hamrlik or the rearguards brought in as injury replacements -- James Wisniewski and Brent Sopel -- and will need a full season from his power play quaterback.

The Canadiens could match Markov with the gifted P.K. Subban on a top defence pair this season, with Gorges sliding back with his old partner Hal Gill. Veteran Jaroslav Spacek is going into the final year of his contract and may play with either Yannick Weber or one of newcomers Alexei Yemelin and Rafael Diaz.

Weber, who has a one-way contract for the first time, is counting on playing defence after being used at times as a forward last season.

"I expect Yannick to be a regular performer on our club this year," said coach Jacques Martin. "I see him as a defenceman, but it's always an advantage to play another position.

"That he is versatile is a plus for him. The fact that we'll need him on our power play is another way of getting into the lineup."

The key off-season addition was free-agent Erik Cole, who gives them the big body they needed for one of their top two lines.

The former Carolina Hurricanes winger is expected to play with centre Tomas Plekanec and Michael Cammalleri, while Pacioretty is likely to play left wing with centre Scott Gomez and captain Brian Gionta, a unit that scored regularly until Pacioretty was injured late in the season.

That would mean third line work for Andrei Kostitsyn, who Martin said was not in his doghouse despite a quote in a Belarus newspaper in which the winger suggested he was not getting a fair shake from the coach.

"I'm not concerned with that," said Martin. "I'll talk with Andrei, but he's a big part of our success. Because we've added Cole, we have Pacioretty and with Andrei, now we have three power forwards. At times last year, Andrei was maybe one of our better performers. What we want is a more consistent performance."

Kostitsyn, who is going into his final season before free agency, had 20 goals and 45 points in 2010-11, but has the size and skill to produce more.

"I never said (anything) bad about Jacques and I'm here to have a good season, ready to play," he said. "I'll talk to him about what this Russian newspaper said and I think we'll be good for the season. Jacques is a good coach."

He could find himself on a third line with Eller, who made great strides in every way except goal-scoring last season, and small, play-making forward David Desharnais, who also got a one-way deal after a promising second half.

A fourth line could have Mathieu Darche, Travis Moen and Ryan White, while candidates for the extra forward spot would include Aaron Palushaj, Brock Trotter or Andreas Engqvist.

Carey Price returns after establishing himself as a No. 1 goalie last year and Peter Budaj replaces Alex Auld as the backup.

Gauthier has nearly $4 million in cap space to play with and is likely to hold onto it in case mid-season adjustments are needed, rather than signing another free agent.

The Canadiens are banking on getting a much better year from a repentant Gomez, the team's highest-paid player who had only seven goals last season, and from the development of young players Subban, Pacioretty, Desharnais and Eller.

Asked if this was a season for redemption, Gomez said: "I'm ready to deliver. We don't need to name the season."

"I like our team," said Cammalleri. "It's a team that's learned how to play with one another and know what we can do for each other as a team.

"It's a real positive thing for me that management wants to move forward with this group and try to win with this group and is also adding to the team. What Erik Cole provides is a big body with speed and a physical presence for us. It addresses a need."

Gorges, Eller and Subban were not fit to play golf while Markov, Kostitsyn and Plekanec begged out because they aren't golfers. Subban has a minor ailment and will be on the ice for the start of camp.

The Canadiens open their pre-season schedule Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars and Wednesday against Buffalo. Five of their eight pre-season games are at home.

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Finally the real training camp starts with physicals tomorrow and a final scrimmage between the Red & White rookie teams.Friday the Quest for the 25th Stanley Cup begins with some bigger and younger players ready to make their mark in the NHL.The exhibition games should be tantalizing for those of us that follow the prospects closely,Yemelin,Diaz, Berger,Mitera,Woywitka,Stejskal and Palushaj are just a few new faces vying for a shot as the last Dman or extra forward.Yahoo the season is here finally!

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Finally the real training camp starts with physicals tomorrow and a final scrimmage between the Red & White rookie teams.Friday the Quest for the 25th Stanley Cup begins with some bigger and younger players ready to make their mark in the NHL.The exhibition games should be tantalizing for those of us that follow the prospects closely,Yemelin,Diaz, Berger,Mitera,Woywitka,Stejskal and Palushaj are just a few new faces vying for a shot as the last Dman or extra forward.Yahoo the season is here finally!

there is definitely a spot open on the blueline, because Spacek at this point should just be a 7th defenseman

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MONTREAL The Montreal Canadiens announced today that 64 players will participate in the 2011-12 training camp. Players will report for physicals and medical exams at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday, September 16.

The Canadiens first on-ice session will take place at the Bell Sports Complex on Saturday, September 17. The training camp will run until Wednesday, October 5, in preparation for the season opener against the Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday, October 6.

The list of players invited to training camp includes 6 goaltenders, 23 defensemen and 35 forwards. The Canadiens completed their rookie camp today and all 31 participating players have been invited to the main camp.

Scrimmages

Canadiens fans are invited to attend all practices at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, starting on September 17. Fans will have access to the stands for scrimmages on September 17-18-19.

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I'll post the more or less play by play of the intra-team games as described by the regular media guys on twitter, starting with today's team A vs team B:

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Gomez was on the ice for the start of the practice session this morning, but wasn't there toward the end, and now he's not scrimmaging #Habs

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Gorges survives his first serious contact of #Habs camp. Exhale. #NHLSuperSaturday

renhockey Renaud P Lavoie

Eric Cole vient de frapper solidement Conboy. Heureusement il se relève.

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GagnonFrancois Francois Gagnon

Première occasion de marquer, Plekanec contourne Dame-Malka, Budaj bel arrêt... (1st scoring chance, Pleky goes around Dame-Malka, nice save by Budaj)

renhockey Renaud P Lavoie

Andrew Conboy n'est plus de la rencontre. (Conboy leaves the game)

Conboy is back

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Yemelin drops Ian Schultz with a big hit #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

Is there anything else than hitting in that game? :lol:

LucGelinas Luc Gelinas

Pacioretty va dans le traffic sans retenu (Pacioretty goes into traffic without fear)

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ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Yemelin flips Pacioretty with a hip check, Pacioretty gives him a dirty look as he gets up #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

Max was looking forward to being hit, looks like his wish was granted :lol:

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Jacques Martin must be loving this scrimmage, nary a scoring chance to be had for either side. Bliss. #Habs

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JFChaumont J-F Chaumont

#Habs: 1-0 pour l'équipe B. Ben Winnett bat Robin Gusse dans le haut du filet.

JFChaumont J-F Chaumont

#Habs: Déjà 1-1... Dany Massé touche la cible sur une passe d'Olivier Archambault.

I dont think much translation is required to say that goals were scored ;)

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Aaron Palushaj is introduced to Mr. Yemelin. In half a scrimmage, he has laid at least four solid hits #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

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Remove the two NHL goalies, and you get yourself some scoring. :lol:

:lol:

GagnonFrancois Francois Gagnon

Après un bon tir au but, Plekanec tente un coup de hanche à l'endroit de Conboy. Raté! Plekanec devrait se contenter de jouer au hockey (after a good shot on net, Pleky tries a hipcheck on Conboy but misses. he should stick to playing hockey)

2-1, Winnett with his second

from a great pass by MaxPac

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JFChaumont J-F Chaumont

#Habs: 3-1 pour l'équipe B. Ian Schultz bat Gusse dans le haut du filet. Passe à Philip DeSimone.

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Plekanec and Cole blow a 2-on-0 break. Those two are cut. #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Philippe Lefebvre can't convert on a penalty shot #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

The penalty shot was awarded after being hooked by Weber

ArponBasu Arpon Basu

Raphael Diaz appears to be a pretty heady player, has shown some craftiness with the puck #Habs #NHLSuperSaturday

GagnonFrancois Francois Gagnon

Max Pacioretty cherche son deuxième souffle dans le cadre du match simulé. Ça ne semble pas facile... (Pacioretty is looking for his second wind in this game, doesn't look easy...)

LucGelinas Luc Gelinas

Beau but de Avtsin que l'on n'avait pas beaucoup vu auparavant. (nice goal by Avtsin who was almost invisible before)

JFChaumont J-F Chaumont

#Habs: Michael Cammalleri retrouve le sourire. Il vient de marquer le but égalisateur. 3-3.

Cammy tied it with 58 seconds left

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