The Montreal Canadiens are going back to the future. Again.
After bringing in Claude Julien to replace head coach Michel Therrien in February – the second time in the club’s history that they’ve made that exact swap – the Canadiens opted to bring back another familiar face this summer in Mark Streit.
The veteran defender amassed 205 games in a Canadiens sweater over the first three seasons of his NHL career, a span that included a career-best 62-point effort in 2007-08.
Set to return to his roots, Streit said he’s looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces that were in the fold alongside him all those years ago.
“Time goes fast and a team changes its face,” Streit told NHL.com’s Dave Stubbs recently. “But it’s great seeing Carey (Price), the kind of player he is now. He was 18 then, and now he’s the best goalie in the league. (Tomas Plekanec) is still here. I was really excited to see both of those guys.
“And working with Claude … he helped me out a lot at the beginning, it’s great that he’s back as well.”
Julien coached Streit for the first half of the latter’s inaugural NHL campaign, before being replaced behind the bench by general manager Bob Gainey. Streit’s career-high 62-point campaign coincided with Price’s rookie season – the two helped guide Montreal to a division title that year, earning a subsequent trip to the second round of the playoffs.
“It certainly helps that I experienced everything here,” Streit said. “When I came here 12 years ago, nobody knew me and I didn’t know anything. It was such a big challenge, a big step. There were ups and downs my first year. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was even harder. It was a grind but at the end of the day, every day, every second, you suck it up and work as hard as possible.”
Though Streit moved on to stints with the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers – and more recently, a brief go-round with the Pittsburgh Penguins – he said he always cherished his time with the historic Canadiens.
“It’s tough to put in words,” Streit told Stubbs. “Playing for the Canadiens is unique, it’s a big honour. …I feel like I’m coming home a little bit. I started here 12 years ago, so being back is an incredible story. I’m really psyched. This is a franchise with so much history, so many great players in the past.
“I still have my (Canadiens) hockey bag. I have jerseys, shorts and stuff. I kept a lot of things.”