Josh Gorges wanted a multi-year deal to stay in Montreal. It was what most, if not all, expected.
In the end, expectation did not become reality.
Gorges and the Canadiens agreed to a one-year deal, announced late Friday night. Both the term and the timing of the release were curious decisions from the outside. After all, here was a player whose name was at the top of the list with Brian Gionta for captaincy candidates. In four short years, he’s gone from spare defenceman to key member of the top four. He was the Canadiens’ reigning Iron Man until the injury ended his season.
Yet in spite of what he’s meant to the team, one year it was, a deal that brings him to unrestricted free agency next summer. While Gorges was hoping for more, he won’t let the disappointment consume him.
“I think I’ve learned in my short time in the NHL that not everything is going to go your way, especially the route that I’ve taken in my career. I try not to take anything personal or feel like they’re trying to do something against my belief or anything like that,” he said. “I go out there and do my job.”
When training camp begins in September, he’ll set out to continue doing his job on a reworked knee. His final game of the 2010-11 season was on December 26 against the New York Islanders. The aggravation of his long-ago torn ACL, though, came against the Flyers in Montreal.
He was standing in front of the net when Carey Price stopped a shot and got a whistle. What Gorges got was someone pushed into him and subsequently falling on him from the side. He knew something didn’t feel right. He was able to play through it from then on until the game against the Islanders, when it was too dangerous for him to continue.
Seven months later, things are looking good.
“The knee’s feeling fantastic right now. It hasn’t felt better than it does right now,” Gorges confirmed. “It’s been a long road but to get where we are now, it’s feeling great and I’m excited about that.”
He first got back on skates in Montreal back in April, working on improving his stride. These days, he’s preparing for the upcoming campaign back home in Kelowna with several other NHL players.
“When I’ve been working out with guys this summer, they’ve told me that I look more powerful,” he said. “With any knee injury, you have ups and downs, but I feel great on the ice. I’ve cut back on some weight work and I’m concentrating more on my footwork and agility.”
The Canadiens’ policy has typically been to not talk contract during the season. The lone recent exception was an extension for Saku Koivu signed in February 2006. Gorges understands the team’s approach and their decision to see how his knee holds up. And although a one-year contract might be a distraction for some, the 26-year-old has no intention of letting it get that way.
“I don’t want to focus on contracts; I don’t want to focus on anything like that. The only thing I want to focus on is helping the team win games and helping the team try to win a Stanley Cup,” he said.
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