Colby Armstrong

Colby Armstrong #20 of the Montreal Canadiens skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on March 5, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders defeated the Canadiens 6-3.
(March 4, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Armstrong signs with Swedish team

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Colby Armstrong was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and after some seasoning in the minors, he broke out with 40 points in 47 games as a rookie.

He’s had some solid seasons in the NHL since then, but has never been able to relive that initial success. Now, after two rough seasons, he’s taking his services to the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish League.

The 30-year-old forward announced the move on Twitter and was extremely positive about the news and what he’s accomplished.

“Honestly gotta say it’s been a great ride over here,” Armstrong tweeted. “What a life. Thanks to all the fans in all the cities I’ve played in here.

“I grew up like any kid dreaming to play in the NHL I got to do it and also Montreal was my favorite team growing up and I got to wear the CH.

“Honestly though, this has been a great journey so far. My family and I are so thankful and now making this move to Sweden is so amazing.”

Armstrong signed a three-year, $9 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the summer of 2010, but he was bought out after recording three points in 29 games in 2011-12. He then went to the Montreal Canadiens where he had five points in 37 contests.

Montreal says au revoir to Armstrong

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Colby Armstrong’s time as a Canadien is up.

On Saturday, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin confirmed the 30-year-old forward would not be back with the club next season after playing 2013 on a one-year, $1 million deal.

After two largely forgettable seasons in Toronto, Armstrong signed with the Habs last summer in the hopes of reviving his career. The former 22-goal scorer did have an impact, playing 37 games (2G-3A-5PTS) while averaging over 11 minutes per night, but felt as though he could’ve shown more.

“It’s unfortunate that I hurt my knee at the end of the year,” he told the team website. “I was able to come back a little bit early to try and salvage a small part of the shortened season.

“I had some highs and lows, but I believe that I still managed to do a good job fulfilling my role.”

A gritty winger that scored 16, 12, 13, 22 and 15 goals in his first five seasons in the league, Armstrong has just 11 goals over his last three seasons.

Armstrong ‘loved’ Montreal, unsure if he’ll be back

Armstrong

Colby Armstrong’s first year with the Canadiens didn’t go exactly to plan on the ice.

Off it, though, it went as well as he could’ve imagined.

“I loved Montreal. There’s a great group of guys here,” Armstrong told the Canadiens website. “My family and I loved this city. Being a part of this team was an incredible experience.”

After two largely forgettable seasons in Toronto, Armstrong signed with the Habs last summer in the hopes of reviving his career. The former 22-goal scorer did have an impact, playing 37 games (2G-3A-5PTS) while averaging over 11 minutes per night, but felt as though he could’ve shown more on his one-year deal.

“It’s unfortunate that I hurt my knee at the end of the year,” he explained. “I was able to come back a little bit early to try and salvage a small part of the shortened season.

“I had some highs and lows, but I believe that I still managed to do a good job fulfilling my role.”

Armstrong was signed in an effort to make the Habs more difficult to play against — which he did, on occasion — and to provide some grit/sandpaper in the bottom six.

Which he also did — on occasion.

The question now is if Montreal chooses to bring him back for 2013-14. Armstrong came to Montreal on the cheap (one year, $1 million), but the team already has 10 forwards under contract next season and decisions to make on RFA Ryan White and UFAs Jeff Halpern and Petteri Nokelainen.

Habs owner: GM Bergevin ‘lives hockey, and our success starts with him’

Marc Bergevin
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According to Geoff Molson, there’s one person primarily responsible for Montreal’s turnaround season in 2013:

GM Marc Bergevin.

Bergevin, who was named one of the three finalists for the NHL’s general manager of the year award, was showered with praise as Molson addressed the media on Thursday.

“We had good coaching, but it all starts at the top and I’m not talking about me,” Molson told reporters, as per the Montreal Gazette. “I’m talking about (general manager Marc Bergevin).

“He lives hockey and our success starts with him.”

Hired last May, Bergevin completely overhauled Montreal’s front office and coaching staff (see here and here and here and here), culminating with the hire of head coach Michel Therrien.

In free agency, the rookie GM addressed the team’s lack of toughness by signing Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong, then selected Alex Galchenyuk third overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

He also stood firm during the P.K. Subban negotiations, and was able to secure the Norris-nominated defenseman’s services for $2.88 million per season.

With those moves complete, Bergevin sat back and watched Montreal go from 15th in the Eastern Conference last year to Northeast Division champions this year — the club’s first divisional banner since 2008.

Pretty good first year on the job.

Overall, Molson was happy with just about everything this season save the finish, when injuries besieged the Habs and they were bounced in five games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“We didn’t have any bad stretches until the end when we ran into injury problems,” Molson said. “But we went a long way toward building for the future.

“We’re headed in the right direction.”

No Pacioretty, Gionta for Montreal in Game 2

PaciorettyGionta
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Already down 1-0 in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals to Ottawa and without the services of Lars Eller, the Montreal Canadiens received two more huge losses on Friday as it was announced Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta would both miss Game 2 with injuries.

As per playoff tradition, the Habs weren’t offering much in the way of details, other than both Pacioretty and Gionta suffered upper-body injuries.

Neither player missed extended time during Thursday’s Game 1 loss — a 4-2 decision to the Sens at the Bell Centre. Pacioretty played 25 shifts for 19:59 of ice time, while Gionta played 24 shifts for 16:09.

Gionta played more in the third (6:25) than any other period, while Pacioretty played over seven minutes.

The losses are absolutely crucial for a Canadiens team that already lost its home-ice advantage.

Pacioretty led the team in scoring this year with 39 points and tied for the team lead in goals, with 15.

Gionta, the club’s captain, was second in goals (14) and is one of the team’s most experience playoff performers, having appeared in nearly 100 postseason contests, winning a Stanley Cup in 2003.

The Canadiens have a pool of healthy scratches to draw from to replace Eller, Pacioretty and Gionta in the lineup: Colby Armstrong, Nathan Beaulieu, Mike Blunden, Jeff Halpern, Louis Leblanc and Petteri Nokelainen.

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