He won’t play in Florida today.
Likely Sunday against Atlanta.
As you read these words, Gaston Therrien and Tony Marinaro are running around the Bell Centre buck naked, wearing party hats and cranking noisemakers.
The team announcement:
David Desharnais has been called up from the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. Desharnais will join the Canadiens in Montreal for Saturday’s scheduled practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.
The 5’07’’, 170 lbs centreman, aged 24, played six games with the Canadiens last season, including his first game in the NHL on November 25 at Pittsburgh. He recorded one assist and two shots on goal, while averaging 8:27 minutes of ice time per game.
Desharnais leads the Bulldogs and the AHL in scoring with 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists) in 35 games this season. One of his goals has been tallied on the power play and three while shorthanded. He ranks first in the AHL in assists (35) and in power play assists (20), while also leading the Bulldogs with a +14 plus/minus differential. He has collected 70 shots on goal and has served 24 penalty minutes. Desharnais has been named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for the period ending December 26, recording five points (two goals, three assists) in two games.
A native of Quebec City, Desharnais signed with the Canadiens as a free agent on November 5, 2008.
The assessment from Hockey’s Future:
Desharnais is intriguing offensively. He is small in today’s NHL
standards, but that has never prevented players from skating in the big
league. He has a strong instinct around the net and is excellent with
The young center likes to use his teammates in the best possible
way but will never shy from shooting the puck. He has scored 65 goals in
his last two years with Chicoutimi.
He is also a good leader in and out of the rink. He was the
Saguenéens’ captain and has always been able to gain opponents’ respect.
Here’s an October feature on Desharnais by Gary McKay of the Hamilton Spectator:
He was the Hamilton Bulldogs leading scorer and finished fifth in the league but David Desharnais felt he played part of last season playing catch-up.
That’s because the 5-foot-6, 177-pound centre broke a bone in his foot in the final minute of the Dogs’ final preseason game of 2009. The injury kept him out of the team’s lineup for 13 games. He didn’t suit up until Nov. 10.
“You watch everyone else after 13 games and see they’re feeling good on the ice and getting their timing down, so for sure you’re playing catch-up,” Desharnais was saying prior to the Bulldogs season opener in Rochester last night.
“It’s important that you start the year good. I’m healthy now so hopefully I can have a good start and keep it going for the rest of the year.”
The 24-year-old from Quebec City ended last year’s regular season with 27 goals, 51 assists and 78 points in 60 games, one of the best points-per-game ratios in the league.
Desharnais says he hasn’t set any specific goals for this year other than to be a better overall player. He says he knows, however, that he has to produce goals and assists at a pretty prolific pace if he hopes to get a shot at making the Montreal Canadiens.
“Getting points is always important,” he says. “Your stats don’t lie and for me as a small player I always have to put points on the board. I’m not sure I’d be here if I didn’t have 139 points in total. I have to keep putting points on the board.”
Bulldogs new head coach Randy Cunneyworth, who was in Atlanta the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Thrashers, hasn’t seen Desharnais play other than in this year’s preseason games and a handful of practices.
He’s seen enough, however, to know that he likes what he sees.
“Wherever the puck was, he was,” said Cunneyworth. “He sees the ice well and has great skills to complement it. It’s one thing to see the ice well but to execute is a testimony to his ability.
“He’s definitely a guy we will be looking to for leadership.”
Cunneyworth says he doesn’t see Desharnais’s lack of size as a deterrent to his making the NHL some day.
“He’s capable of skating well but he needs to get faster,” says Cunneyworth. “He needs to get up to NHL speed. He’s by no means slow but he needs to develop another gear consistently.”