Josh Anderson had never experienced the reality of a transaction. In the Ontario Junior League, he had played all three seasons with the London Knights. In his first six years in the NHL, he had only known the environment of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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In addition to the Ohio capital, the big right winger had visited the cities of Springfield and Cleveland, during stints in the American League in his early days in the organization of the Jackets.
On October 6, Anderson took the shock of a trade for the first time. He switched to the Canadiens in exchange for a friend and former London Knights teammate Max Domi.
Almost four months later, the 26-year-old Ontarian says he’s completely integrated into his new team. To accelerate his sense of belonging, Marc Bergevin granted him a contract of seven years and 38.5 million (5.5 million on average) just two days after its acquisition. It does not harm the rooting.
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On the ice, Anderson quickly found his bearings alongside Nick Suzuki and Jonathan Drouin. In his first game with the Habs, he scored two goals in a 5-4 loss in overtime to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. As an entry on the scene, it was hard to imagine better. After six games, the 6’3 ”, 226lb winger has amassed four points (3 goals, 1 assist) and has a +2 rating.
“I expected it to be more difficult,” Anderson said Wednesday, the day before the game against the Flames at the Bell Center. But the transition is so easy. I’ve been saying this from day one. The guys are awesome, it’s a really tight-knit group. They made me feel welcome. The trip (to start the season) also helped. We spent the first two weeks away from Montreal, but I feel like I’ve been here for a year already. It’s really good. I look forward to many more years with this team. “
Anderson is not a rare bug in the Habs locker room. Jake Allen, Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli and Corey Perry also managed to quickly blend into their new surroundings.
“There is a good core of veterans within the team,” explained Claude Julien. When the new ones come in, the guys do a good job of making them feel out of place. The same goes for coaches. We make sure to chat with them, we show them what we do as a team. But there are several things that need to fall into place for them to feel comfortable. It comes from everyone. It starts with the organization that welcomes them and helps them with their move to Montreal. Credit goes to the whole organization for the integration of new people. ”
Anderson will participate tonight in his first game on the ice at the Bell Center with the Canadiens’ uniform on his back.
“It will be good to be on the other side this time around,” said the number 17. Under the circumstances, without the fans, it will be different. But I’ll take this as another game. We skated Wednesday at the Bell Center for a practice. Right there, I found it exciting to see the dressing room and all the history related to the team. I can’t wait for my first game. “
Before Wednesday’s training at the Bell Center, Anderson had never set foot in Saint-Antoine Street as a member of the Canadiens. He had just seen the team locker room in Brossard.
“I found it a bit complicated to find the parking lot, but other than that, I really liked the experience,” he replied. When I walked into the locker room, I got lost in my thoughts a bit. It was special. There is a rich history. I looked at the photos of the Canadiens alumni, I looked at the many Stanley Cup replicas. I was amazed. I didn’t speak for the first ten minutes after entering the locker room. ”
Kind words for Tortorella
The day after his exchange with the Habs, Anderson had given a very complimentary speech to John Tortorella. If he remained quite silent on the transaction between the Jets and the Blue Jackets involving in particular Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrik Laine, the right winger once again sent flowers to the head coach of the Blue Jackets.
“As I have often said, Wrongs is all one coach. I liked it. He’s an honest coach, you know what to expect. He cares about the well-being of the players. Sometimes he sounds like the bad guy, but he’s here to help. I learned a lot from him. “