The Montreal Canadiens kicked off the 2013-14 campaign with their annual season-opening golf tournament on Tuesday and general manager Marc Bergevin is already answering plenty of big questions with less than four weeks until puck drop.
Bergevin hopes to have enforcer George Parros and captain Brian Gionta in the lineup for opening night. Parros - acquired from the Florida Panthers for his toughness and willingness to drop the gloves for his teammates - had offseason rotator cuff surgery while Gionta is rehabbing from surgery on his left biceps tendon.
"It's possible that Gio might not be ready to start the season but he'll be ready not too long after," Bergevin told reporters.
P.K. Subban's contract status was also a hot topic. The young blueliner - who won the Norris Trophy in June - will become a restricted free agent again next summer and Bergevin sounded open to extending his contract in-season as he did last spring with David Desharnais and Francis Bouillon.
"I would like to get something done," he told reporters, adding he did not want to discuss contracts in public. "It takes two to tango."
Subban is one of eight experienced blueliners on defence this season, which isn't too big a number with Alexei Emelin still on the mend. Bergevin estimates that the Russian defenceman won't until December at the earliest -confirming what was widely believed following his knee surgery.
To make up for the absence of Emelin's hitting and shot-blocking, the Canadiens signed Douglas Murray to a one-year contract two weeks ago. "I liked the way that the Canadiens viewed me as a player, that's why I wanted to sign here," Murray told reporters on Monday. "I'm excited to be back in Montreal, it's always a great time."
Murray - along with his new teammates on the blue line - will be charged with the task of providing support for Carey Price, who struggled through the final stretch of last season. Price raised some eyebrows after the team's playoff elimination by Ottawa when he told reporters about the challenges of playing in a hockey-mad market like Montreal. The 26-year-old said he felt like a "Hobbit in a hole," adding that it was even tough to go grocery shopping in a city where everyone recognizes him.
"There are a lot of human beings who are homebodies," Price explained on Monday. "I like keeping it on the (down low) with my family."
Price will have plenty of support on the ice as well after the team hired Stephane Waite away from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks as their new goaltendering coach. "Me and Stephane (Waite) talked a few months ago," said Price. "Hopefully we can build a solid relationship."