Once the season begins, my eyes will be focused on a couple of Montreal Canadiens. There are two forwards hoping that they can reach a level that they had once attained—looking for rebound seasons, if you will.
Max Pacioretty, in his most recent call-up from the Hamilton Bulldogs, finally found the game everyone was hoping for before his season came to an abrupt end due to his now infamous injury.
Scott Gomez, coming off the worst season of his career, has been a disappointment since his arrival in Montreal—maybe even before he played a single game.
The injury impacted both players. Gomez seemed to click with Patches, but instead of carrying the momentum he gathered playing with the young power forward, he ended the season in futility.
Both players have the chance to bounce back this season, but which one is hungrier?
You would think that with so much to prove, Gomez is the easy answer. Unfortunately for the centreman, no matter how well he plays, fans will never be satisfied, and perhaps rightly so. Unless he plays like an elite NHL centre, he will not be worth his salary.
He will, in all probability, never match the career-high of 84 points that he scored with the New Jersey Devils in 2005-2006.
I'd be curious to know if, whether he realizes it or not, that factor doesn't weigh him down. There could be something in his subconscious that is telling him that his critics will never think he’ll be good enough, regardless of his output. If that’s the case, why even bother?
Pacioretty, on the other hand, should come back with a vengeance.
Erik Cole should prove to be a fine mentor and help Pacioretty deal with his comeback from neck injury.
He'll certainly want to best the 24 points that he registered in 37 games before his season was cut short.
He has always been confident, at times perhaps a little too much so. When he told the media that he would rather be given top line minutes in Hamilton than play on the fourth line on the Habs, it was evident that he wanted to be "The Man."
Provided that Pacioretty comes to camp at full strength—both physically and psychologically—Gomez will reap the rewards.
And so even if, for one reason or another, he doesn't "want it" as much as Pacioretty does, maybe, after being reignited by the kid (again), he'll continue to excel as the season progresses.
Maybe if he gets the taste back, he'll want it more. Perhaps we will then see a 70-point output from Gomer.
And then we’ll all be happy, right?
Jason is on Twitter: @jhytel