All Habs Headlines: CBA, Markov, Plekanec, Nokelainen, Kovalev, Tenute, Subban

Despite a rib injury, Tomas Plekanec won't be out long. (PHOTO: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)

All Habs Headlines: Tuesday January 8, 2013

On this day in hockey history… Rookie defenseman Larry Robinson made his NHL debut for the Montreal Canadiens in 1973.  Happy Birthday to former Hab enforcer Darren Langdon (42).


Lockout Over, but CBA Still Days Away: Hockey fans waited through a lockout of more than 100 days to find out what the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement would like, so what’s a few more days?

Though the league and players reached an agreement on a new deal, it seemingly won’t be ratified until the weekend when all parties have sufficient time to review the new document in its entirety, and complete the voting/approval process.  While this should all just be rubber stamping and formality, it was a front that General Manager Marc Bergevin and President and Owner Geoff Molson hid behind during a happy press conference yesterday in Brossard.

Bergevin did reveal that he had been in touch with the agent for P.K. Subban, Don Meehan, and that Alex Galchenyuk would be one of the few non-NHL players invited to the shortened training camp, with about 25-30 bodies expected in total.  Details on the agreement and Montreal’s plan should leak in over the coming days.

Read more: Know the NHL NHLPA Agreement – New CBA 101

Despite a rib injury, Tomas Plekanec won't be out long. (PHOTO: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)
Despite a rib injury, Tomas Plekanec won’t be out long. (PHOTO: Jim McIsaac, Getty Images)

Plekanec, Nokelainen Hobbled to Start CampAlso at yesterday’s press conference, Bergevin mentioned that – to his knowledge – Petteri Nokelainen is the only player starting training camp on the disabled list as he continues to rehab back issues from last season.  We know that Tomas Plekanec has missed games in the Czech Republic with a rib injury, and he himself indicated he might still need another week to ten days on the sidelines, so he may be doubtful for day one as well.  It is possible that Bergevin and company were being coy on the issue, given Plekanec’s injury came while playing outside his NHL contract during the lockout, but either way it seems like he won’t miss any considerable time.

Of importance, no mention was made of Erik Cole or Rene Bourque, two players who would have missed training camp had it taken place back in September.  Both have put it rehab time during the past four months and are now healthy and ready to begin the season with their teammates.

Another player coach Michel Therrien expressed excitement about starting camp healthy is defenseman Andrei Markov, a player Therrien is familiar with from his previous stint in Montreal.  Markov caused a bit of controversy when it was announced that he would play another game for his Russian squad Vityaz before returning to Montreal, as did a number of NHL’ers prior to escaping their short-term European contracts.  Given Markov’s injury history, some fans held their breath, but he survived this morning’s contest unscathed and will fly back to Canada  on Thursday.

Read more: Markov getting ready for return to Montreal

 Kovalev Attempting NHL Return: Former Hab star Alex Kovalev wanted to remain in the NHL last season, but when he couldn’t find a deal he was happy with, he bolted to the KHL.  Now at age 39, Kovalev is taking another stab at a North American job – he who once said he’d like to keep playing until he’s 50.  The Russian will attend training camp on an invite with the Florida Panthers, though with a lack of any preseason games to impress observers, he’ll need a good showing to crack the opening night roster.

Kovalev had previously been announced as one of the headliners of Montreal’s Habs All-Star Classic alumni game set to take place on March 24th.  A possible return to pro hockey has his participation in the event now in doubt.

Read more: Kovalev, 39, Lands Tryout with Panthers

Bulldogs Ready to Lose Players: While the Hamilton Bulldogs don’t stand to lose as many players as other American Hockey League clubs with the return of an NHL season, the team is still taking necessary precautions to ensure it can continue to ice a full roster once training camp begins.  To begin, yesterday, the club recalled Daultan Leveille and Joe Stejskal from the ECHL, with this being a first stint with the Bulldogs for Leveille and the second this season for Stejskal.

Today, the team announced the signing of veteran forward Joey Tenute to a professional tryout.  Tenute is a 29-year old 5’9″ journeyman, but is something the Bulldogs have lacked at times this year, as he can play the role of a veteran scoring forward.  He split last season between Finland and Austria, and has played in Europe since leaving the AHL following the 2007-08 season.  Tenute was an 8th round pick by the New Jersey Devils back in 2003 and appeared in a single NHL game for the Washington Capitals back in 2005-06.  His career highs at the AHL level are 28 goals and 67 points, recorded in 68 games back in 2006-07.

As for who the team may lose, Renaud Lavoie indicated Mike Commodore may receive a tryout with the Canadiens – he who is signed to an AHL deal for the time being – though, particularly given his struggles with a nagging groin injury, it’ll be tough for him to make a team with 8 blueliners on one-way NHL deals already.  He’ll likely be joined by rearguard Frederic St. Denis in camp, while Gabriel Dumont is the only real guarantee at forward, particularly with the injury to Nokelainen creating a possible spot up front.  Other forwards on the bubble for invites include Brendan Gallagher and Louis Leblanc, depending on the approach the Canadiens take to running their camp.

A final bit of good news in Hamilton comes from sick bay, as while the club has lost Joonas Nattinen to an arm injury, both Aaron Palushaj and Greg Pateryn are on skates and could get back into the line-up in coming weeks.

Read more: Official Release – Bulldogs Recall Stejskal and Leveille

► Subban Wants Deal Done Quickly: Mirroring the words of his General Manager, P.K. Subban told RDS he also very much hopes to be in training camp from opening day.  While his contract must still be worked out, he stated that – were it up to him – he would play in Montreal for the next 20 years.  In his mind, Montreal isn’t a place where you want to be a contract holdout, given the fan pressures and media scrutiny on the team, so he has hopes that Bergevin and his agent can work things out quickly.

Read more: Subban, la priorité (French)


► New at All Habs Hockey Magazine:

113 Days of What, Exactly? The ‘Catelli’ Lockout

Catching the Torch: Kristo Takes the Lead

Know the NHL NHLPA Agreement: New CBA 101

All Habs Mailbag: Hudon, Galchenyuk, Gomez, White, Prospects, Goalies

Amnesty Buyout: Are the Habs the Most Desperate Team?


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