“I had chills about it. It may have been a small Tuesday in July in Brossard, but that didn’t stop David Reinbacher from experiencing strong emotions. Imagine when he lands on a Saturday night at the Bell Center against Toronto…

Tuesday noon, therefore, the Canadian’s development camp ended with a simple intra-team game. The bleachers were open to spectators, and they were therefore some 200 or 300 to cheer the hopes of the Habs.

Even though Lane Hutson, Logan Mailloux and the great John Parker Jones put on the show, the crowd was all for Reinbacher. It was he who received a standing ovation when he was sent to the penalty shootout. It was he who received the last applause, on returning to the locker room.

It was in reaction to those scenes that Reinbacher, the fifth overall pick last week, spoke of his “chills.” “They were cheering when I walked onto the rink,” he said in disbelief. I missed my feint in the shootout, but I’ll work on it in the next few weeks! »

It must be said that after an initial slippage during his selection, Reinbacher received some love. Tuesday’s applause was in addition to the book given to him by a fan, filled with positive comments made by other fans. He received said book on Sunday and has been able to leaf through it in recent days. “It gave me motivation and a smile,” he said.

This wave of love, what did it do to her? The 18-year-old greenhorn hesitates for a moment, clearly still moved. “I can’t describe it, it’s amazing. They took good care of me, they sent me messages. I feel like home here. It’s like my second home. I want to come back here, train, and give back to the fans. »

Let’s stay in Cupid’s flowerbeds; Reinbacher also had a crush – professionally – at his first NHL camp.

He and Hutson, another defender with some potential, have spent a lot of time together. It started with exercises for which they were paired up from time to time, in the first two days.

Then, for the simulated match, they were actually used as a duo. The marriage makes perfect sense between the little Hutson, ultra-offensive, and the beefier Reinbacher, less inclined towards the offensive thing. If it worked for Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, why wouldn’t it work here?

“It’s just nice to play with a great partner to stop opponents and protect me. It clicked all week, he’s a good player,” Hutson said.

During the simulated match, Hutson prepared at least three scoring chances for his partner, each time to no avail. Reinbacher seemed to laugh all the same. “I may have to change my poles!” “, he joked in front of the cameras.

Rob Ramage, director of player development, noted a hint of disappointment in the young Austrian. “For love, it’s July,” Ramage exclaimed. But he wanted to play so well. »

Obviously, it is not, precisely, after a simulated match in July that we will decree that the future incarnation of the Lidstrom-Rafalski duo is born. But the two rears have found affinities. Reinbacher came away so impressed that he launched a comparison that could be described as enthusiastic, to be polite.

Maybe it was the six months difference, or the fact that he was speaking his native language, but Hutson offered a wiser comparison. “He’s the next David Reinbacher. He’ll be very good, it shows,” the cherub-like defender said.

Hutson was heading home Tuesday afternoon, and won’t return to Montreal until next spring, as he’ll play at Boston University while trying to add to his 158 lbs.

Reinbacher, him? It’s less clear. No one wanted to comment. Ramage remained vague. Reinbacher said everything and its opposite about it, but he dropped that rookie camp will start “in 65 days”, speaking like a guy who will be there. He then recalled that there are still “things to discuss”.

We already know the question that will inflame Louis de Mercier, Harold de La Pocatière and other phone-in fans this summer: Should Reinbacher play in Laval or Switzerland next season?

The examples of Simon Nemec and David Jiricek will come up often. They were the top two defensemen claimed last year, at No. 2 and No. 6 respectively. The first played in the Slovak league, the second in the Extraliga, the Czech first division. Not necessarily the best leagues in the world. And both spent the last season in the American League.

Like them, Reinbacher could acclimatize to North American rinks by staying here rather than returning to Europe. On the other hand, his time of use will be higher in Kloten, where he was the most used defender at equal strength of his club, according to data from the specialized site NL Ice Data.

No matter what, “I’ll have to be ready to show them they made the right decision by picking me fifth.” That is what is said.