When Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin implores his forwards to drive the net, he doesn't have to ask Mathieu Darche twice.
Darche's two gritty goals in a must-win game on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils were further examples in a career year of his willingness to pay the price.
"I think that's the reason why I'm here," Darche told TSN at Monday's practice. "I'd like to think that from the first game to the last game I play the same way."
Darche, who is not blessed with blazing speed or a cannon shot, knows his role and is thriving this season.
"He's got to go into those uncomfortable areas and battle, and it's not an easy job," said defenceman Hal Gill. "There are a lot of guys that are taking whacks at him and he's got to fight through that."
The Montreal native, who has played for five different NHL teams in 11 years, is playing on a one-way contract for the first time in his career and his style of play is appreciated by linemates Scott Gomez and captain Brian Gionta.
"He does a lot out there," said Gomez. "He's got a big body and creates space."
The 34-year-old has a career-high 12 goals and 24 points in 56 games this season along with a plus-seven.
"He's committed and the way he plays is a good example for some of our young players," Martin stated.
Darche, who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of season, wants to stay in Montreal next season. But he also understands that the business of his next contract doesn't take precedence over the team's push to lock down a playoff spot.
"It's my dream to play here, Darche said. "There's a lot of pride for me to put the jersey on.
"I grew up idolizing this team."
With files from TSN's Montreal reporter John Lu