The Montreal Canadiens are back under the watchful eyes of their fans, as 74 players take part in the first week of training camp in Brossard.
“They practice really well,” said 11-year old Benjamin Paquette who watched a scrimmage on Saturday with his dad.
“It’s a new generation of players. I think that’s going to be a great year for the Habs,” said longtime fan Jim Regan.
It was an entertaining off-season with the Canadiens choosing the number one draft pick Juraj Slafkovský.
Regan was one fan at Saturday’s camp getting a first look at the rookie.
“The number one draft choice looks great. he’s got some great moves,” he said.
Speaking to reporters in the afternoon Juraj Slafkovský said, “I’m just happy that it was going pretty well so far and I just hope that it will just keep going like that.”
The Slovakian is participating in his first training camp alongside his friend Filip Mešár. Teammates have given them the nicknames Batman and Robin.
“It’s something new for me, but I’m learning a lot from them and also to be here with Juraj. It’s fun,” said Mešár.
Hockey analysts say the wildcard at camp is Arber Xhekaj. The six-foot-four defenceman had a physical presence at the rookie tournament.
“He’s a hockey player. He’s not just the goon, as he said, beginning of camp. He said I don’t want people to think of me as another meathead. And he’s been very impressive so far in camp,” said Pat Hickey, writer at the Montreal Gazette.
“I feel good with the pace, the speed and I feel like I’m making good plays and I’m playing my game. So I definitely feel like I have a good shot,” said Xhekaj.
Fans and analysts aren’t expecting the team to win the Stanley Cup this season, but expect some great hockey.
“Marty St. Louis has brought in a more offensive, up-tempo style to the play, and I think they’re going to be exciting, but I don’t think they’re going to win…many more games than they did last year,” said Hickey.
Training camp runs until October 5. There are 6 preseason games before then, giving Canadiens prospects a chance to prove their worth. Ahead of the final roster decisions going into the regular season.