Alex Belzile arrived at the Bell Center at the end of January, in a role of player who was undoubtedly going to leave, and then finally, he never left.
He has not left, but in addition, he often gets noticed in the right way. In 25 games with the Canadiens, he had 12 points, which is probably 12 points more than any Vegas bettor could have predicted for him in September, when he was preparing to play another season in the American League (AHL). ).
We ask him if he’s in a bit of an audition right now, and he smiles, because basically he’s spent his entire career auditioning.
“I’ve always played like that, like the guy who knows he’s in an ejection seat,” the 31-year-old summed up Wednesday in Brossard. For me, that’s pretty much the only way to play! »
We are not going to go over the entire journey of Belzile here, who essentially had to cross America in full force, here in the ECHL, there in the AHL, before playing six games with the Canadiens during the 2020 playoffs, then two the following season, then 11 last season.
Then there was this season, and the very long list of injuries that we know. Then there was this chance, maybe the last, maybe not. Either way, he wasn’t going to miss it.
“It’s the reality of hockey: you get injured, you get called up, and you try to force the team to keep you,” he added. It’s always like that, and the sooner you understand that, the better. It motivates me. It forces me to always work, never to take a day off.
“I’ve been cut by several teams in my career. Each time, it motivated me, because I wanted to prove them wrong. So it makes me happy to show everyone that I had my place. But I’ve always been in that chair, so for me it’s natural to always have to give everything. »
Because during this time, Martin St-Louis is taking notes.
“We are focused on developing young people, not just young people, but also developing our brand, how we want to play,” the Montreal coach replied on Wednesday. We had injuries, yes, but it allowed us to get good samples of several players, which we might not have been able to get otherwise, with a healthy club. »
The door opened, should we understand, and Alex Belzile took advantage of it. The rest, what’s next, September, the next season? He doesn’t want to think about it right away.
Because that’s not what players like him do.
“Even though there are 11 games left in the season, I’m not looking away…like I said: I’m on an ejection seat!” And I’m still fighting…”
Forward Jake Evans and defenseman Jordan Harris took part in Wednesday’s practice in Brossard without any restrictions, and the two players traveled with the rest of the club to Boston in preparation for Thursday’s game. Martin St-Louis has confirmed that Harris won’t play against the Bruins, but he left the door open on the possibility of a return for Evans, who has been out since the Jan. 14 game. Harris hasn’t played since the March 7 game. We also note that Jesse Ylönen was in training on Wednesday.
Jake Allen will get the start against the Bruins on Thursday night in Boston. In his last game, last Thursday in Florida, the veteran goaltender had a difficult night, allowing 6 goals for the Panthers. “It’s going to be a big challenge, but the guys have played really well in the last two games, against a very good team as well,” the goaltender said Wednesday. The Bruins are doing very well too, we will have to be ready. »