Update: Demoted Locke eyes another chance

On Friday, the Canadiens announced that forward Corey Locke had been returned to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Locke made his NHL debut during Tuesday night’s game against Chicago, playing just under six minutes and finishing at minus-1. But he was a healthy scratch on Thursday in Boston with the return of centre Bryan Smolinski.

In Sunday’s Gazette, John Meagher reports that Locke has reported with a good attitude – and his equipment – and is eager for another chance with the Habs.

Locke holds head high after demotion to AHL

The Gazette

It’s difficult to make a lasting impression in one game – especially when you only get six minutes of ice time.

But Corey Locke prefers to see his cup of coffee with the Canadiens as half full after making his National Hockey League debut in last Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Bell Centre.

“Obviously, I wish I was still up there, but it’s a numbers game now,” Locke said Friday after he was returned to the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens’ affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Locke’s No. 45 sweater quickly went back into storage in Montreal after veteran Bryan Smolinski returned to the Habs lineup, having recovered from a knee injury.

“The (Canadiens) have got healthy bodies now, so it’s tough to get in their lineup,” Locke said.

Playing at the raucous Bell Centre on Tuesday and watching hockey legends Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita honoured before the game provided Locke with memories to last a lifetime.

“It was pretty cool to be a part of that ceremony,” said the 23-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont. “It’s a memory I’ll have forever. There is an unbelievable atmosphere in that building.”

During his cameo appearance against the Hawks, Locke managed one shot on goal, was a minus-1 and went 2-for-5 on faceoffs.

“I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of ice time, but you always want to play as much as possible,” he said. “I thought I played well when I did. I was alright on faceoffs and wish I could have that minus back. But I think I created some things offensively when I was out there.

“At least I got into a game. You’ve got to take the positive out of it. It was great, though. I always wanted to play in the NHL. It’s been my dream growing up.”

Locke was selected by the Canadiens in the fourth round (113th overall) at the 2003 NHL entry draft after winning the Ontario Hockey League scoring title with the Ottawa 67s. His 63 goals and 151 points also earned him Canadian Hockey League player-of-the-year honours.

After scoring a goal and adding an assist during Friday’s game against the Syracuse Crunch, Locke is Hamilton’s leading scorer this season with 30 points in 35 games

But despite helping the Bulldogs win a Calder Cup last year and becoming the farm team’s all-time leading scorer with 185 career points (67-118) in 269 career AHL games, Locke has never impressed the Habs brass enough for a closer look – until very recently.

The 5-foot-9, 171-pound forward was recalled by the Canadiens for the first time in his career on Dec. 30 – after captain Saku Koivu fell ill. But in a rotten stroke of misfortune, Locke’s hockey equipment never arrived in New York, so he couldn’t suit up. A disappointed Locke was returned to the Bulldogs on New Year’s Day.

He was delighted to find out he’d been recalled by the Habs again last week, along with goalie Jaroslav Halak, after Carey Price and Kyle Chipchura were sent to Hamilton for polishing.

Now that he’s had a taste of The Show, Locke would like another chance to impress Guy Carbonneau and Bob Gainey.

“Getting called up a couple of times means you’re getting recognized,” Locke said. “It’s a good sign and I want to get called back up as soon as possible. But a lot of it is out of your control.”

Locke returned to Hamilton by car Friday.

“And I brought my equipment with me,” he said, laughing.


  1. jew4jah says:

    this is pretty funny, although you have to manually scroll through the pictures and…
    …the sequence is a tad screwed, so #1 goes with #11 and #18 goes with #2.
    sad let down last night. the only highlight for me was seeing brisebois grimace in pain. i don’t like seeing anyone suffer but it had my hopes up for an injury. hopefully he’s not hurt and wants to retire. please hang up the skates, patrice. and bring smolinski with you.

  2. RS says:

    He had a goal and an assist and was first star tonight. Good for him. Another win for Price and the Dogs.

  3. ccs says:

    Perhaps a roster spot may open up after the trade deadline either here or on another team. Why not try him out on the wing instead of center if size is an issue. This guy has talent that should be given a chance. We do have the ability to make a trade or two yet this year.

  4. 24 Cups says:

    I feel sorry for Locke but the truth of the matter is he came up as an injury replacement sub. We’ve already got our quota of small centres filled. And at that, I think you would still have to put Grabovski ahead of him. His best bet is to try and sign with another organization.

    The Original 24 Cups

  5. Da Hema says:

    That’s right TommyB. It is simply a numbers game now, and there is nothing distinctive about Locke as a player. The Habs now have organisational depth, and consequently the team is turning into a meritocracy–as Dandenault found out when he was benched. Play well or have someone take your spot. I love it.
    “We’re looking forward to building the type of team the Rangers are able to buy.”
    –Phoenix GM (and former Hab) Bobby Smith

  6. TommyB says:

    There is no doubt that Locke is talented, however, he sits too far down the depth chart to make this team right now. Time may run out eventually as far as Locke cracking this lineup, and he will be free to go elsewhere. Should that happen, one can only wish him luck.

    Locke has been in our system for a few years now and although he has offensive skills, he does lack in size. I can’t speak for the management, but I assume this may be the reason he sits so far down the depth chart…and, you just know that if he was up with the big team there would be countless Habs “fans” bitching about another small forward.

    Classless act??? Hardly!

    I think Habs management have been fair with him. I’m sure management has been hoping that Locke might get at least a little bigger the last couple of years, and that maybe then there would be a spot for him ahead of some of the others who have leap-frogged over him. You want to be fair to these guys, but you also need to have a space for such a player.

  7. krob1000 says:

    I agree it was not an evaluation at all but I don’t think it was supposed to be (I hope not anyway). He got called in for Koivu when he was sick then there was a three day layoff and no need for Locke anymore. Just a baby step…yep. I think Locke has enough offensive ability that someone will give him a shot at some point and maybe it will be us but I doubt it will happen again this year barring several injuries to centres (knocking on wood).

  8. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    well sure if we look at it that way, he did get a chance to ride the chartered plane and practice with the big club, play his first game, so its all a great experience, lifetime dream etc. and yes some Cap money was saved and yes he will tell all about it and raise hopes.

    but it was not an evaluation…just a tiny baby step for the organization.
    1. The BELL CENTRE should be rebuilt to sit 80,000 fans.
    2. Your not a Hab fan till you watch & UNDERSTAND “The Rocket”.
    3. Delenda Est Torontium….

  9. krob1000 says:

    I don’t know what antithesis means. I do know class and I did hear Carbo say that they felt bad about what happened. I also read Don Lever saying how Chips and Price being friends is helping them with the move to the Bulldogs. Business first……the players are the team and as it stands new players don’t want to play here. This is Montreal for God’s sake. IF a few moves like these help therse kids out and word gets out that Motnreal cares again (remember all the years of captain trading,etc) then this is a great business move. The saved money is also a factor as is the palying time as probably is the opportunity to possibly showcase Halak. There are just too many reasons to do these things and not enough not to.

  10. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    This is not a CLASSY MOVE… and is uncharacteristic of our classy organization.

    but it is the antithesis of sending CHIP down…WRONG…(unless we are measuring saved salary cap) = business first.

    1. The BELL CENTRE should be rebuilt to sit 80,000 fans.
    2. Your not a Hab fan till you watch & UNDERSTAND “The Rocket”.
    3. Delenda Est Torontium….

  11. REB says:

    Let’s not be too hasty in getting rid of Locke. Smolinski is a 1-yr contract and shouldn’t be back next year (please!), and Koivu is starting to show his age and the beating his body has taken (I suspect that we will find out he has health issues before season’s end).

    We’ve been hasty and/or over-sightful in letting some of our young players go (Beauchemin, Hainsey come to mind), and we’ve been foolish in trades (Leclair). 1 game in the NHL is not enough time to make any impression (he was probably puking in a stall before the game from nerves!), and his future with the Habs shouldn’t be based on the 1 game.

    However, what he does have going against him is his size. Plekanec and Grabovski are both small, although if the heart is there, and the desire burns, he will find a way to overcome his smaller physical stature.

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