Canadiens captain Brian Gionta was swarmed by reporters on Sunday after training camp practice and the first question, as expected, was about the departure of Scott Gomez from the team.
“As a teammate, as a friend it’s tough to see,” said Gionta.
“He wants to play and, you know, to have that taken away is a tough thing for sure.”
“We’ll do whatever we can to support him,” Gionta added. “It’s just an unfortunate thing in the game that happens.”
Gionta and Gomez go back a long way, playing together as teenagers when both were involved with USA Hockey. They were also linemates with the New Jersey Devils.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin made the announcement shortly after training camp started that the Canadiens were sending Gomez home and planned to buy out his contract this summer.
Gionta heard the news from head coach Michel Therrien as soon as he arrived at the practice facility.
Bergevin was also asked about Louis Leblanc, the Canadiens first-round draft pick in 2009 who played more games with the Habs last season than the Bulldogs but wasn’t invited to training camp.
Leblanc suffered a high ankle sprain early in the season and missed about 10 games. It slowed his progress, said Bergevin, who noted he isn’t where he should be as a result. It’s often almost better to suffer a fracture than a high ankle injury because it heals faster, Bergevin said.
“Those injuries are tricky.”
Four players from the Hamilton Bulldogs were invited to training camp: Brendan Gallagher, Gabriel Dumont, Jarred Tinordi and Mike Commodore.
Forward Alex Galchenyuk, 18, the Habs first-round draft pick last June is the youngest player here. Therrien told reporters he doesn’t want to put pressure on Galchenyuk, especially at his age. He wants to start Galchenyuk on the wing at training camp and then try him at centre after a few days, Therrien said.
Players who’ve had good years and bad years have to prove themselves all over again, Max Pacioretty said. “That’s why it’s a clean slate for everyone and we’re excited to get out there and battle.”
Players also talked about the new system they’ll be playing under Therrien.
You can hear what Josh Gorges had to say following the start of training camp below:
You can hear more from Max Pacioretty below:
You can hear forward Travis Moen’s comments below:
(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)