In our commitment to bring you the complete picture of the Montreal Canadiens, we have made reporting on the summer development camps, rookie camp and training camp a priority. A thorough review of each player in the organization is an essential foundation for the analysis that we bring to you throughout the year. Looking at issues through the lens of a team of All Habs writers ensures that a variety of perspectives are presented to our readers.

We also compare notes with fans, bloggers and members of the mainstream media to help us stay grounded. One of our favourite writers is Arpon Basu of CTV Montreal. It seems that he is on the top of your list too, as Basu won the Red Fisher Award for favourite Montreal hockey writer in the recent 2010-11 All Habs Media Awards.

His writing and on-air commentary is always thoughtful and his insight is enlightening. Follow @ArponBasu on Twitter and be sure to check out his blog at the Daily Hab-it on the CTV Montreal website.

Arpon has graciously agreed to augment our pre-season coverage with his own thoughts and impressions of the Habs.  Recently he sat down with Iain Carnegie to discuss the upcoming season. Here you will find the first of a two-part series as we continue our preview of the 2011-12 edition of the Canadiens.

Written by: Iain Carnegie,

Montreal, QC. – On a bright sunny day, on a patio in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce region of Montreal, Arpon Basu and I suspended our family duties and just talked Habs. With fresh coffee in hand, Arpon spoke candidly about his perception of the roster for 2011-2012, after witnessing them first hand at training camp. There’s no doubt we were in the great outdoors of this fabulous city, as fire trucks screamed by, buses invaded our hearing space, and patrons of the cafe coughed and talked around us — the sounds of popular music also battling for attention.

“In the past three years here, I’ve never seen a scrimmage with as much contact and robustness” ~ Montreal Canadiens Head Coach, Jacques Martin

As you’ll hear in the audio portion of this interview (located in the player below), physicality was the first topic at hand, and there was no lack of it to be found on the ice of the Complexe Sportif Bell as the Canadiens took to the ice this past weekend. Arpon discussed how the inclusion of so many rookies at training camp easily lead to a more physical scrimmage, as each youngster was out to prove themselves.

Even as most veterans were taking it a bit easier, it was nice to hear that both Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges played hard to brush off some of the cobwebs acquired during their injury time off. From a defense point of view, there has been much talk about Alexei Yemelin, and wonderment as to whether he can adapt to the North American hockey style of the NHL. It’s common knowledge that he can hit, but in discussing the stand out points to Yemelin’s game, strong skating and solid body positioning rose to the top of the chart.

The recent news that Andrei Markov is experiencing setbacks in his recovery, has Canadiens fans and critics alike, exploding with anger and doubt. Was the contract a mistake? Certainly we both agreed that the “I told you so” fans have come out in tremendous numbers, but I was interested in hearing Arpon’s time frame for making that judgement.

“Guys are more concerned with making sure that he’s going to be alright for the long term and he comes back at 100%. He’s had a tough two years and at the end of the day you need to make sure everything’s in order before he gets back to playing.” ~ Habs Captain Brian Gionta on Andrei Markov

It was here that we spoke about the “nature of training camp”. The Markov news was likened to the story that Jarome Iginla had left the Calgary Flames training camp with back spasms. Precautionary, but not to be seen as detrimental. We closed out this portion of our chat in a discussion revolving around the acquisition of Erik Cole, how he fits into the organization, and what effect this will have on Andrei Kostitsyn moving forward.

The sun may have been shining brightly on the little patch of earth where we sat, but it was clear for both Arpon and I that summer is over. It’s time to get on with the business of hockey.

  • Melissa (Mbouf)


    Thanks for putting this together and getting insight from someone who attends the camps first hand as a top rate journalist. Great interview, you asked a lot of good questions which sparked really awesome discussion.

    I can’t wait for the season to begin and see the final roster in action. I know some of the players that have stood out to me in pre season won’t be on the final roster, but I can’t wait to hear about them in Juniors and potentially see them in a game or two during the regular season.

    I’m hoping and praying Markov is back and is the same player he used to be. The contract made me nervous too, I’ll admit. I hope it turns out for the better though. And I really really hope our defensive core looks stronger than last season and our offensive core producers more than last year’s group.

    Go Habs Go

    • My Pleasure Mel,

      I really try to do things that are standout and different for the offseason. It was a great pleasure to have both Arpon and Brian (from CTV) spend some time with me talking about where we stand and where we can potentially be, this coming year.

      Brian brought a great overall insight to the team with 27 years of depth to his viewpoint, but Arpon brought some great talk after being at the camps and watching the boys in person. They both brought some healthy topics and discussion.

      All three of us haven’t always agreed on what’s happening, but they bring wonderful commentary and great knowledge to where we sit for the upcoming season. I thank them both for their selfless commitment to speak with me.

      Make sure you check out part two with Arpon – it get’s even better!!!

      Cheers – Iain

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