In this week’s edition of Montreal Canadiens news and rumors, Stéphane Robidas is joining Martin St. Louis’ staff as an assistant coach, Mike Matheson and Evgenii Dadonov tour the Habs’ dressing room for the first time, and Juraj Slafkovsky gets a gift from Chris Wideman.
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Plus, several Canadiens prospects are already confirmed to be representing their country at the IIHF World Junior Championship next month and the dates for Habs rookie camp.
Slafkovsky Gets His Number
Slafkovsky, Montreal’s no. 1 overall pick in this summer’s draft, was hoping he could wear no. 20 with the Canadiens, the same number he has with the Slovakian national team. The only problem is that it already belonged to Wideman, who signed a new two-year extension earlier this summer. That is until he graciously switched to no. 6 so that his new teammate could take his coveted number.
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“First and foremost, we’re trying to create an environment and a culture where he feels welcome with the team,” explained Wideman. “He’s a young guy, and I wanted to make sure that he knows that we’re excited to have him and we’re going to make it a place where he can reach his potential and become a really good player in this League.”
In return for his classy gesture, Wideman will be getting a signed no. 20 Slafkovsky jersey, which is already sold out in the Habs’ official team store, for his young son, Henry.
Robidas Appointed Assistant Coach
Former NHL defenseman Robidas has been hired to replace Luke Richardson behind the Canadiens’ bench. He’ll be in charge of the defense corps, with a special focus on developing the many young defensemen set to join the team in the coming months and years. The 45-year-old fit the profile of the coach that St. Louis was looking to add to his group.
Robidas spent last season as head coach of the Magog Cantonniers in the Quebec U18 AAA Development Hockey League and led his team to the Jimmy Ferrari Cup. Before that, he served as Assistant Director of Player Development and Director of Player Development with the Toronto Maple Leafs between 2015 and 2021. A seventh-round draft pick of the Canadiens in 1999, he appeared in 937 NHL regular season games, including 122 with the Habs.
Between them, the members of the Canadiens’ coaching staff may not have a lot of games behind an NHL bench, but they more than make up for their inexperience in other areas, including extensive playing experience at the highest level, being strong communicators, and noted success in player development, which is exactly what the franchise needs at this stage of their rebuild.
Matheson and Dadonov Tour Bell Centre
Newly acquired defenseman Matheson recently returned home for the first since the trade that sent him from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Canadiens, the team he cheered for while growing up on Montreal’s West Island.
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He toured the team’s dressing room at the Bell Centre along with his parents, his wife, Emily, and their one-year-old son, Hudson. He also tried on his new no. 8 Habs jersey.
Evgenii Dadonov, who joined the Canadiens from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for Shea Weber’s contract, also checked out his new digs for the first time on Thursday and met fans at the Tricolore Sports boutique.
Canadiens Well-Represented at World Juniors
With less than two weeks ago before the start of the rescheduled World Juniors in Edmonton, several Habs prospects have already been named to their national teams with more announcements to come.
Defenseman Petteri Nurmi, a 2022 seventh-round pick, and forward Oliver Kapanen, a 2021 second-round selection, will play for Finland. Meanwhile, Jan Mysak will return to the World Juniors for a third and final time with Team Czechia. He served as captain of his U20 national junior squad during last year’s tournament.
Slafkovsky and his compatriot Filip Mesar, Montreal’s other first-round pick in July, will not play for Slovakia and instead focus on getting ready for Habs training camp in September. Vinzenz Rohrer, a 2022 third-round pick by the Canadiens, also won’t compete for Austria.
Habs Announce Rookie Camp Dates
Speaking of prospects, the Canadiens announced on Thursday the details surrounding their upcoming rookie camp which will get underway on September 14 with players reporting for medicals and physical testing at the team’s practice facility in Brossard.
They will then travel to Buffalo to play three games in the 2022 Prospects Challenge from September 15-18. The event will feature rookies from five NHL clubs facing off against each other: the Buffalo Sabres, the New Jersey Devils, the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Habs.
Now that the assistant coach vacancy has been filled, the Canadiens’ offseason is beginning to wind down with just two restricted free agents, Kirby Dach and Cayden Primeau, left who still need contracts. This means it’s time to start looking forward to the upcoming season, the potential roster moves on the horizon and the intrigue that awaits.