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Sports Canadiens Notebook: Shea Weber staying back home in Kelowna, B.C.

05:30  25 september  2021
05:30  25 september  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans listen as head coach Dominique Ducharme gives instructions during Canadiens training camp Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.  © Provided by The Gazette Christian Dvorak and Jake Evans listen as head coach Dominique Ducharme gives instructions during Canadiens training camp Friday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

Canadiens captain Shea Weber is not expected to play this season and his career could be over as a result of injuries to his thumb, ankle, foot and knee.

Dominique Ducharme confirmed Thursday that no other player will wear the “C” this season and on Friday the Canadiens head coach said Weber will remain at his home in Kelowna, B.C., with his family.

“He’s going to be back home, but he’s going to be in Montreal at times,” Ducharme said. “He’s always in contact with the guys. Even summers that he was coming back playing he would keep in touch with every guy to see how summer was in training and things like that. So I see him doing that.”

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Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin signed free-agent defenceman David Savard to a four-year, US$14-million contract during the offseason as a replacement for Weber.

Savard had 1-5-6 totals in 54 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning, who acquired him before the NHL trade deadline. Savard got an up-close look at the Canadiens and their Big Four on defence last season — Weber, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson — during the Stanley Cup final, which the Lightning won in five games.

“I think they were big bodies and they were physical and they make it tough on guys to have any space and create offence,” Savard said about the Canadiens defence. “I think that’s right into my game. That’s how I like to play, that’s how I played in Columbus and in Tampa after. I’m not going to switch. I’m just going to be myself and try to do the best I can and be physical and I think it’s going to play perfectly here in Montreal and I’m just going to fit in.”

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Welcome back

Savard is from Saint-Hyacinthe and as a junior played four seasons in the QMJHL with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Moncton Wildcats. The Blue Jackets selected him in the fourth round (94th overall) of the 2009 NHL Draft.

After playing his first 10 seasons in the NHL in the United States, the 30-year-old is thrilled to be back home in Quebec with his wife and three young children.

“It’s been great,” he said. “We love coming back to Quebec in the summertime. Since I signed here, the moment I got the offer, I kind of wanted to jump on it. I think playing for Montreal is something special. I grew up watching them and to get the chance to wear the jersey and play at the Bell Centre it’s going to be special for me and my family and I’m really excited about it.”

Canadiens Notebook: Life without Shea Weber begins at training camp

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Savard, with his big, bushy beard, is already getting recognized around Montreal as a new member of the Canadiens.

“It happens,” he said. “Obviously, being a Montreal Canadien is going to be a little different than when I played in Columbus. We didn’t get recognized too often in Quebec. But it’s been fun so far. People are really respectful. They come see you and wish you good luck and stuff like this. So it’s been really fun and I’m looking forward to be here for the next four years and it should be a fun ride.”

Guhle impresses partner

Savard has been paired on the blue line with Kaiden Guhle, the Canadiens’ first-round pick (16th overall) at the 2020 NHL Draft, to start training camp and has been impressed with the 19-year-old’s skating ability.

“The way he skates on the ice he looks calm,” Savard said about the 6-foot-3, 203-pound Guhle. “I’ve been trying to talk to him as much as possible on the ice between drills and stuff like this. He’s a calm kid and it’s fun to see that guy. I just remember my first few years how nervous you are and stuff like this. So I think that the way he looks, how calm, I think he’s going to grow fast and become a really good player.”

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Habs sign defenceman Niku

Bergevin added some depth to the blue line Friday when he agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way contract with free-agent defenceman Sami Niku.

The 24-year-old has 54 games of NHL experience over four seasons with the Winnipeg Jets, posting 2-8-10 totals. Last season he had no points in six games.

The Jets selected the 6-foot-1, 176-pounder in the seventh round (198th overall) of the 2015 NHL Draft. The Finnish defenceman’s new contract with the Canadiens will pay him US$750,000 in the NHL and US$425,000 in the AHL.

Wideman battling for a spot

Another defenceman Bergevin added to the roster during the offseason for depth is Chris Wideman, who was signed to a one-year, US$750,000 contract as a free agent.

Last season, Wideman had 9-32-41 totals in 59 games with Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo in the KHL. In 181 career NHL games with the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, Wideman has 16-29-45 totals. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season.

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“We want our defencemen to be defending,” Ducharme said when asked about Wideman. “He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s smart. And so the way he defends he’s got a really good stick, from what I see right now. Really good stick, he’s moving well, so he’s closing quick. So he’s going to close differently than Savard, who’s going to be pushing the guys out and separating the guys from the puck. But he’s really good with his stick doing that and taking time and space away like this. So I like that.”

Lines & defence pairings

The Canadiens will play their first of six preseason games Saturday night in Toronto against the Maple Leafs (7 p.m., SN1, RDS, TSN 690 Radio). Ducharme said his lineup will be mainly made up of players from Team White at training camp.

Here’s how the forward lines and defence pairings looked for Team White and Team Red on Friday:

TEAM WHITE

Forwards

Tyler Toffoli – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield

Artturi Lehkonen – Ryan Poehling – Laurent Dauphin

Mathieu Perreault – Cédric Paquette – Alex Belzile

Brandon Baddock – Jean-Christophe Beaudin – Jesse Ylönen

Alexandre Fortin

Defence

Alexander Romanov – Jeff Petry

Brett Kulak – Gianni Fairbrother

Xavier Ouellet – Cody Goloubef

Louie Belpedio – Arber Xhekaj

Goalies

Cayden Primeau

Kevin Poulin

TEAM RED

Forwards

Jonathan Drouin – Christian Dvorak – Josh Anderson

Rafaël Harvey-Pinard – Jake Evans – Joel Armia

Joshua Roy – Jean-Sébastien Dea – Danick Martel

Michael Pezzetta – Jan Mysak – Lukas Vejdemo

Gabriel Bourque

Defence

Kaiden Guhle – David Savard

Mattias Norlinder – Ben Chiarot

Corey Schueneman – Chris Wideman

Terrance Amorosa – Charles-David Beaudoin

Goalies

Jake Allen

Michael McNiven

scowan@postmedia.com

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Related

For Canadiens fans, regular-season has already arrived .
About 45 minutes after the Canadiens finished their Red vs. White scrimmage Sunday afternoon there was a large crowd of fans waiting outside the garage at the Bell Centre hoping to get a glimpse of the players on their way out. This was after a scrimmage — not an actual game. The passion Montreal fans have for the Canadiens really is impressive. “By the time I left, there was only two left … I didn’t feel the passion,” Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said with a smile Monday morning after practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard. Did he sign autographs for those two fans? “They waved … I waved back,” Ducharme said with another smile.

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