Newcomers anxious to start season with Canadiens

LAVAL, Que. — Daniel Briere feels he is finally ready to play for the team he worshipped as a kid in Gatineau, Que. The best-known of the Montreal Canadiens’ off-season acquisitions, along with tough guy George Parros and defenceman Douglas Murray, was mobbed by media as he joined his new teammates for the first time at the club’s annual charity golf tournament on Tuesday.

LAVAL, Que. — Daniel Briere feels he is finally ready to play for the team he worshipped as a kid in Gatineau, Que.

The best-known of the Montreal Canadiens’ off-season acquisitions, along with tough guy George Parros and defenceman Douglas Murray, was mobbed by media as he joined his new teammates for the first time at the club’s annual charity golf tournament on Tuesday.

Briere, 35, signed a two-year contract worth $4 million per season after he was bought out by the Philadelphia Flyers, who were in salary-cap trouble and couldn’t keep the five-foot-10 centre.

“I take it a step at a time, with today being the first step,” said Briere. “The biggest step will be wearing that jersey out onto the ice.

“That will be a big thrill. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing.”

Briere had a chance to do it in 2007, when he turned down the Canadiens to sign an eight-year, $52-million deal with the Flyers. This time, he said he didn’t want to miss what may be his last chance to play for Montreal.

“I think I’m ready at this stage of my career,” he said.

It hasn’t been determined whether he will play his usual position at centre, where the Canadiens have lots of bodies, or on the wing. Either way, he will add skill and experience to one of the top attacking lines, even if he won’t make a smaller-than-average team any bigger.

General manager Marc Bergevin, entering his second season, hopes to have addressed that with the six-foot-five Parros and six-foot-three Murray.

“Two of the guys bring size and toughness, which was a need we had to fill,” said Bergevin. “And Danny brings leadership.

“He’s a player who had options and he chose to come to Montreal. For a French-Canadian, I think that’s huge. He’s happy to be here, and to us that means a lot.”

Briere has been a solid points producer throughout his career, but he is mostly known for playing his best in big games, especially the playoffs, where he has 109 points in 108 games.

And he feels the Canadiens have become a hard team to play against with their speed and a balanced attack.

“More and more, the pieces are coming together for this team to be successful,” he said. “They took a major step in the right direction last year with key additions (Brandon Prust), and also with some good young players taking a step.

“With guys like myself, Parros and Murray coming here, hopefully we’ll move even more in that direction. I’m not coming here to be a passenger. I want to be here, but I also want to make a difference. I want to be a guy they can rely on for offence and who can help at any time.”

The 33-year-old Murray, who signed for one year at $1.5 million, was acquired by Pittsburgh in March from the San Jose Sharks and was part of the Penguins stunning playoff collapse.

Some feel the hard-hitting Swede has lost a step, but Bergevin had his eye on Murray since last season.

Without giving details, Bergevin said Murray can be a valuable defenceman on the right team and with the right defence partner. He sees him as a top-six rearguard.

That suits Murray, who said he signed with Montreal “because of the way they viewed me as a player and how they were planning to using me.

“You don’t get handed anything. You still have to earn it, but I liked the way they viewed how I should play. Also, there’s an unbelievable hockey tradition here. I think there are more cameras here than I had in seven years in San Jose.”

Bergevin said Murray is more than a temporary replacement for Alexei Emelin. They had hoped Emelin would return by late November, but Bergevin said he will be out at least into December and that they want the tough Russian to be fully healed before he returns to action.

Parros gives the team a heavyweight enforcer who will take pressure off Prust, a willing fighter who is more of a middleweight, in a division where many teams have been adding muscle in recent years.

The 33-year-old had off-season surgery to repair a rotator cuff in a shoulder but hopes to be ready to play when the regular season opens on Oct. 1.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing here,” said Parros, who spent six years in Anaheim before moving to the Florida Panthers last season.

He said his Twitter following exploded after joining Montreal and he is already being spotted by fans on the street.

The main attractions of the day were goalie Carey Price and Norris Trophy winning defenceman P.K. Subban, who both attended last week’s Canadian Olympic team orientation camp.

Bergevin is confident that Price will bounce back from a weak end to last season, especially with the hiring of goaltender coach Stephane Waite from Chicago.

Price will need to be sharp to secure a spot on the Olympic squad.

“You can look at it that way, but the bottom line is, I want to play well no matter what,” he said. “Whether I’m trying to make the Olympic team or playing here, it shouldn’t make a difference.”

He also admitted he has yet to try on the new league-mandated smaller goalie pads he will use this season.

“I’ve been practising in my old ones, so I’m probably going to be in for a bit of a shock here,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read