Sunday, 1 July 2012

A busy Canada Day

GM Marc Bergevin has wasted no time putting his own spin on the Montreal Canadiens.

Proving that his relationship with new Head Coach Michel Therrien is one built on strong communication, Bergevin signed 2 players who have played for Therrien before. Defenseman Francis Boullion returns to Montreal for his 3rd tour of duty with the club - the first of which was spent under Michel Therrien. Colby Armstrong who played for Therrien in Pittsburgh was also brought in.

Boullion is a hard working defensive defenseman.Last season with Nashville, he threw 103 hits in 66 games. Boullion will always give you everything he has. "It was the biggest disappointment of my career to leave the Canadiens. It happened a little weirdly, but I do not blame anyone today and I'm looking towards the future" Bouillon told RDS after news of his signing broke. He received a 1 year, $1.5 million dollar contract from the Habs. 

When asked about reuniting with Michel Therrien, Boullion was very candid, "Michel and I've had some great moments together during my career. I was very happy with his re-hiring by the Canadiens and I am very excited to return to his team."

Boullion will bring some much-needed ruggedness to the Canadiens, something that comes in abundance with Bergevin's 2 other signings on this day - Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust.

Colby Armstrong was bought out late last night by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto will actually be paying Armstrong $1 million to not play for them. While the Canadiens will be matching that figure after signing Armstrong to a 1-year $1 million contract.

Armstrong has run into injury problems the last couple of years. He's missed 75 games due to various broken bones. Armstrong says he's completely healthy now and is looking forward to playing with his childhood favourite team. He told CKAC radio in Montreal that his favourite player growing up was Kirk Muller, and that he had Muller's poster hung in his bedroom "right next to the Britney Spears poster".

Armstrong, like Boullion has also played for Michel Therrien before. "Michel knows how I play and he knows how to get the best of me. I wanted to end up with the Canadiens" Armstrong told RDS. 

When asked by CKAC if he had fielded other offers, Armstrong said that he knew there was interest from some other teams, but jumped at the chance to play for his childhood favourite team. He was after all, a card-carrying member of the Montreal Canadiens fan club. 

"I was disappointed that the Maple Leafs bought out my contract. I think I can still contribute and I hope to rebound this season. I'm glad the Canadiens think the same way as me. I think the transition will be easy after living in the middle of Toronto".

The biggest acquisition of Bergevin's day was forward Brandon Prust. Prust is a rugged bottom 6 forward. He kills penalties (averaging 1:40 per game on the PK in 2011-2012), He can fight - having been charged with 20 fighting majors last season, but he can also play hockey. Prust averaged over 10 mins a game last season - for a Rangers team that finished 1st in the NHL. He threw 144 hits, took 156 mins in penalties, and scored 2 game winning goals. He is only 28 years old, would take some pressure off of Travis Moen, and is an upgrade on Brad Staubitz.  

The signings thus far of Armstrong and Prust not only make the Canadiens bigger and stronger, but they also alleviate various pressures off some of the forward group. Prust is a game Penalty Killer, which allows Tomas Plekanec to not be as needed on the PK. Prust also knows how to drop the gloves, which would alleviate the need for Travis Moen and Ryan White to always drop the gloves. These additions to the bottom 6 forwards also allows a rotation to happen based on varied opponents for players like Petteri Nokelainen. 

Marc Bergevin cancelled a late-day media session due to still being in discussions with various free agents. Media members were told to expect Bergevin to meet the media on Monday. Many are speculating that Jaromir Jagr - who was #1 on The Breakdown's list of players for the Habs - is a target of Bergevin's.

Late in the day, Bergevin re-signed RFA Michael Blunden, and also brought back goaltender Cedric Desjardins. Both players signed two-way deals, and will likely spend the season in Hamilton barring injuries.

Related: "Free agent Blitzkrieg?"

1 comment:

  1. From the day MB was hired he brought back stability and communication that was lacking.
    He realizes that our team, for the last few years was soft, short of grit and tenacity.
    These signings are a sign that Mtl will no longer be rag dolled or pushed around. Our talented and skilled players will be allowed to show what they got. Love the character brought in. Now for a top six, big, scorer and an upgrade on the top 4 D and this team will be competing and banging and crashing with the B's, Flyers, Pens, and Rangers.