NHL defenceman and local Notre-Dame-de-Grâce boy Marco Scandella is returning home.
The 29-year-old set to make his debut as a Hab at the Bell Centre on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s huge. I’m really excited — first game in Montreal for the Montreal Canadiens. Yeah, I’ve played for other teams here, but it’s something really special. It’s an honour and I’m happy,” said Scandella.
Scandella was traded by the Buffalo Sabres for Montreal’s 2020 fourth-round draft pick.
Habs head coach Claude Julien is excited to have the Montreal native on the team.
“He’s a veteran player and he’s a smart player and I’m sure he’ll have a calming influence on Fleury,” said Julien.
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Fans will be cheering him on against the Penguins on Saturday, but none louder and prouder than his own mother.
“I feel like it’s going to be a dream come true,” Scandella said. “I mean, she’s the most excited to see me; it’s going to be surreal. I’m just excited for the moment and embracing it just thinking about how fun it’s going to be tonight.”
“When we learned of Scandella joining the Canadiens yesterday, we were very excited, him being a local boy, and Montreal needs some help on defence at this point,” said Habs fan Rob Doucette.
“He seems to be what they’re looking for as far as that left-handed shot that adds a little bit of scoring touch and just an all-around solid player.”
The news of Scandella’s return home came as no surprise to some family members who were hoping he’d land a spot in his hometown team.
“I was excited, I kinda thought it was gonna happen still, because of the end of the contract and everything, but I was very excited, the whole family was excited — all our Facebook messages blew up,” said cousin Danilo Momesso.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree — Scandella’s uncle Sergio Momesso won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986.
Now the family’s greasy spoon will have his spot on the wall sporting the tricolor alongside his uncle.
Wearing a Habs jersey comes with great responsibility and fame, but those close to Scandella believe he’s ready for the challenge.
“I was thrilled he was coming back home,” said family friend Katherin Samios. “I know it’ll be an adjustment; everywhere he goes people are gonna know him and bother him, I’m sure, but it’s good to have him back home.”
“I feel like it’s such an exciting moment, I’m so excited — I mean, the adrenaline’s pumping right now,” said Scandella about Saturday night’s game.