Montreal Canadiens July Development Camp: Day 3

Rocket All HabsCorrespondent IJuly 9, 2010

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 22:  13th overall pick Lars Eller of the St. Louis Blues poses for a portrait during the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 22, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

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It's the second full day of July's development camp. Yesterday, I reported that Alexander Avtsin did not participate in many of the drills and left practise early. He didn't appear at all on Day 3 but there was no word on his status.

According to Amanda Stein of the Team 990, Avtsin doesn't speak English or French, and therefore doesn't meet with the media.  Amanda also informs me that there are no Russian translation services in place for him.

One of the first people I saw today at Brossard was the Joe Stejskal fan from June's development camp. You may recall my mild surprise that a Francophone fan had developed an attachment to Stejskal, given that he is from Grand Rapids, Minnesota and now playing at Dartmouth. This is truly a great city.

Today, however, her allegiances had changed. Her handmade fluorescent green sign read "Kyle, can I have your hockey stick?" It seems that Montreal fans are not only knowledgeable about their prospects, but fickle too.

The 'Kyle' she refers to is Kyle Klubertanz, a 24 year old free agent defenseman signed by GM Pierre Gauthier in May. Klubertanz is from Madison, Wisconsin, and last year played for Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite league.

It was the 6'1", 190 lb. Klubertanz who would be involved in one of the more interesting battles of the day. More on that later.

You may remember that 'battles' were non-existent at the June development camp. At the time I wrote "At the Canadiens 2010 June development camp, the one ingredient in short supply is passion. For the most part, it has been a quiet, polite affair. After two days, the most intense person on skates has been Habs' assistant coach Kirk Muller."

In fact, as June's prospects sat next to each other on the bench waiting for the ice to be resurfaced, few words were spoken. It was an odd dynamic.

The comparison between the two camps is like night and day.

There are a few players who make sure that the rink isn't a church-like atmosphere. One of the ringleaders is Aaron Palushaj (ably assisted by Andrew Conboy) who came to the Canadiens in March from St. Louis in the Matt D'Agostini trade.

Palushaj is Max Pacioretty’s former college roommate and teammate on the Wolverines when the two were at the University of Michigan. They were reunited this past Spring in Hamilton.

Gauthier targeted Palushaj for being a player who works hard and competes for the puck. Palushaj has been doing the same thing at the development camp and pushing his fellow prospects to do the same. He has been very vocal on the ice all week.

The camp became decidedly physical when the coaching staff introduced a 3-on-1 drill. There were some heavy knocks as the three forwards crashed the goal against a single defenseman and goaltender. The results were predictable until it was Jarred Tinordi's turn.

Tinordi very adeptly kept the trio of Palushaj, Jan Eller and Ian Schultz (all good-sized players) in front of him. He was quite effective of managing and leaning on his opponents. Tinordi's fellow defensemen, Greg Pateryn and Frederic St-Denis, spent most of their time chasing the play.

It was when the drills turned to one-on-one that the sparks began to fly. At 6'3", 204 Schultz has been a hard person to move when he has planted himself in front of the net. Tinordi wasted no time knocking him to the ice and cleared the puck.

Tinordi also came out on top when matched against P.K. Subban. While Subban pulled out his bag of tricks, including a spinerama, he couldn't get past Tinordi. The young defenseman has been very impressive so far.

The feature 'bout' of the drill was Klubertanz and Eller, who were matched up several times. When racing for the puck, Eller destroyed Klubertanz with a huge hit. When Klubertanz got up and tried to retaliate, he ran into a brick wall named Eller and went down again.

Many Brossard fans cheered, but not my friend with the green sign.

Klubertanz would get his revenge though on the next attempt at the drill. He delivered a massive hit on Eller. Fans gasped. Green sign-girl squealed.

These guys were feisty and it was a pleasure to watch! It was quite a contrast from the snooze-fest that was June's camp.

It's fair to say that there are a group of players who aren't at the same level of intensity and physicality as the ones mentioned above. The group includes John Westin, Francois Brisebois, Mark MacMillan and Jonathan Brunelle.

The smallest player at the camp, Brendan Gallagher, has been surprisingly competitive against bigger opponents. At 5'9", 165 lbs. he hasn't been afraid to get his nose dirty.

It should be acknowledged that the majority of the drills aren't fair for the goaltenders. However, I like how Cincinnati Cyclones goalie Robert Mayer doesn't get flustered or quit on the puck when clearly outnumbered. He has a good glove hand and does a nice job controlling rebounds.

The afternoon session concluded with a cross-ice 3-on-3 game. Ben Maxwell's red side got the win. The whites did on-ice push-ups for the second day in a row.

And the girl with the green sign waited outside the garage doors at Complexe Sportif Bell for her hero's hockey stick.

The development camp concludes on Friday with two sessions.

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