Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta is one step closer to being ready for the season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 1 at the Bell Centre. For a second straight day, Gionta took part in practice without his non-contact jersey. Gionta, who underwent surgery on a torn bicep back in May, won't be playing in any pre-season games this weekend but is hopeful to be ready to play by next week.
"My preference would be to get in more than one pre-season game but we'll have to see how it goes next week," Gionta told the media on Thursday.
The Canadiens are taking their time with their captain, who has been practicing on a line with Michael Bournival and Martin St. Pierre. However as he progresses, it is likely he will rejoin the line with Rene Bourque and Tomas Plekanec.
There was also some good news for Gionta off the ice as the Canadiens announced that he is this year's recipient of the Jean Beliveau Trophy, awarded to the player that shows a strong charitable commitment to the community. On top of participating in many fundraising events, Gionta and his wife Harvest started an initiative to allow sick and underprivileged children the opportunity to attend Canadiens home games in a private suite donated by the Gionta family. At the end of this season, Gionta's financial support to the community will have reached an amount over $250,000.
"It has been something that has been close to our hearts for a while now and we are lucky and fortunate to be able to give back to people in need," Gionta said after practice.
In other news from training camp, it wasn't a good day to be a defenceman for the Canadiens. Francis Bouillon and Douglas Murray are both day-to-day with lower body injuries. Michel Therrien referred to them as "training camp"-type injuries.
"It is more of a precaution. If it was the regular season, they wouldn't be out," Therrien said at his news conference.
A more seriously injured defenceman is Davis Drewiske, who hurt his shoulder in practice on Wednesday and will be out for the next four weeks. The Canadiens recalled Darren Dietz late Wednesday to replace Drewiske.