Who's getting the call for the Canadiens?
Leblanc, Commodore considered possibilities
If Hamilton Bulldogs defenceman Mike Commodore manages to net a spot on the Montreal Canadiens roster, he'll have played for 14 teams in 13 years.
"That's a pretty good average," he said, grinning ear to ear.
But even better — if he suits up for Montreal in this condensed NHL season, he'll have been one of the only players to play for every NHL team with a red jersey.
"New Jersey, Calgary, Ottawa, Detroit, Carolina and then Montreal. I'm going to have to go out on a limb and say no one else has done that," he laughed.
Rumours abound that the veteran defenceman will be heading to Montreal to try to crack the Canadiens lineup when training camp opens hastily on Sunday or Monday. But that's news to him.
"Yeah, that's what I'm hearing too," he laughed. "I'm getting all these congratulations on Twitter, but I don't know what they're talking about.
"I don't know what's going to happen there. My focus is here — I have about five games left on my [tryout contract]."
"Going up to Montreal would be great — but they have a lot of guys signed on the back end already. If they sign PK [Subban] I think that's eight guys on one-way contracts."
Close to finalized
On Wednesday, NHL owners voted in favour of ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement with their players.
A majority of owners were in support of the new deal, which the league and NHL Players' Association reached early Sunday morning after a 16-hour marathon bargaining session.
The players aren't expected to start their own ratification vote until Friday. It will be conducted electronically over two days and needs majority support from the roughly 740 union members to pass.
If all goes to plan, the process would be completed by Saturday and training camps would open around the league on Sunday.
"Guys are definitely excited," said Louis Leblanc, who played 42 games with the Canadiens last season. The 21-year-old forward is a likely candidate to be called up to tryout for the big squad.
"We don't really know what's going to happen with training camp in Montreal — who's going to go and whatnot — but our attitude has to stay the same," Leblanc said.
Both Leblanc and Commodore praised the Bulldogs for giving them a space to stay in shape and ready to go should the NHL come calling.
"I'd have been working out down in Florida, but it's nothing like it is here. I would've been in trouble," Commodore said, adding that he feels like he's slipped back into game shape over the last half-dozen games or so.
"When I want to move I can move, when I have the puck I feel good," Commodore said. "The first few games was a struggle. It was tough. I had to drop some weight."
"So I'm happy I came here. The organization here has been great to me."
A condensed season
The NHL is targeting a 48-game season beginning Jan. 19, which leaves no time for teams to squeeze in any exhibition games. The schedule is expected to be released in the coming days.
The league is planning to have teams play three games against the 10 opponents within the same conference but outside their division. They will then have an unbalanced schedule against division rivals, with five games coming against two teams and four against the two others, according to a source.
Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre says time will tell how much the lockout will affect his squad. The team has struggled throughout the season, but shown signs of turning around in the past few games.
"Just like any other team in the American League, we're going to lose some players for camp," Lefebvre said. "How many players are going to stay at camp? We don't know."
"We still don't know how many guys are going or when they're going. We're still waiting to get the call."
With files from The Canadian Press