Canadiens’ first-round draft pick Michael McCarron took part in the off-ice testing Wednesday morning in Brossard at the start of the Habs’ annual development camp.
Fifty-six players, including 28 drafted by the Canadiens, are at the camp, which ends on Sunday.
“The feeling is awesome,” said McCarron, a 6-foot-5 1/2, 235-pound winger who spent the past two seasons with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.
“I know this crest is just so known throughout hockey. When you think of hockey you think of the Canadiens, the most winningest team. It’s nuts. I can’t believe I’m part of it. And I’ll certainly wear it proud.”
As a big guy, McCarron said he thinks he still needs to work on his quickness and consistency. “Being ready to play every night. Some nights I’m good and some nights I’m average. When you’re up here you need to be good every night.”
McCarron hasn’t decided where he’ll play next season. He has signed a letter of intent with the Western Michigan Broncos. The London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League hold his Canadian Hockey League rights.
“I still have to talk to the staff here to see what they think is best for me. I still haven’t made my decision,” McCarron told reporters.
He should make his decision next week and it’s going to be a tough one for him, he said.
McCarron hasn’t gone unnoticed. While at the airport in Toronto for his connecting flight to Montreal “a dozen guys came up to me and ‘hey, are you Mike McCarron?’”
“They wanted a picture…that was the first time I’ve ever been recognized outside the rink so it was pretty special.”
The group of players at the camp includes defenceman Jarred Tinordi, who finished the season with the Habs, Louis Leblanc, the Habs’ first-round pick in 2009, as well as right winger Christian Thomas who was acquired from the New York Rangers on Tuesday in exchange for former Habs’ prospect Danny Kristo.
Leblanc, who suffered a high ankle sprain, had a disappointing season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens’ farm team.
Asked what they want to see more of from Leblanc, Martin Lapointe, the Canadiens’ director of player development, said being injured set back the 22-year-old forward a bit.
“This year’s a new year. I’ve been talking to Louis a lot…I think for him it’s just having a fresh start. He did his tests today. He tested really well. He’s a kid that works hard.”
“I’m not worried about Louis bouncing back,” Lapointe said. “He’s a good kid that works hard.”
The first on-ice session was slated for Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. and is open to the public as are all other practices at the camp, which runs through Sunday in Brossard. There will be a scrimmage at 9:30 a.m. Sunday to wrap up the camp.
The NHL announced its 2012-13 all-star teams Wednesday and, not surprisingly, Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban of the Canadiens was named to the first team on defence along with Minnesota’s Ryan Suter. The first-team forwards were Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (centre), Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz (left wing) and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (right wing). Ovechkin also made the second all-star team as a left-winger.
(Photo by Bill Kostroun/The Associated Press)