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Why Canadiens fans will love Michael Pezzetta

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When the Montreal Canadiens decided to send Cole Caufield down to the AHL yesterday, there was some understandable frustration from a fan base on the brink. But as one fan favourite left for Laval, a new one may have just emerged.

Michael Pezzetta will play his first ever NHL game tonight against the Detroit Red Wings after being called up from the Rocket yesterday. You won’t just be enamoured with him just for the flow and moustache combo, which admittedly is glorious.

Here are three reasons why Habs fans will quickly fall in love with Michael Pezzetta

Underdog

The Montreal Canadiens and their fans need some good vibes. The first three weeks of this NHL season have been, to put it mildly, a trainwreck. Just about everything that has gone wrong for the organization has in fact gone wrong. Next up might just be the plagues of Egypt the way this thing is going.

Pezzetta not only brings positivity as a 23-year old making his big league debut. He’s a good story for the fans. Drafted in the 6th round back in 2016, Pezzetta didn’t even put up big numbers in junior. He never averaged a point-per game in the OHL, even in his overage season split between Sudbury and Sarnia.

Offensively, things didn’t improve when he got to the AHL. Up until this season, he had put up only 19 points in 107 games with the Rocket.

This is a player with limited skill who himself probably couldn’t imagine that he would ever score double digit goals in the AHL, never mind play in the NHL. He was never supposed to be here!

So why should Canadiens fans root for a guy who can’t produce when the team seems allergic to offense? Because of how his style of play has gotten him to this moment.

Bite

Pezzetta has had to scratch and claw at every level and it is obvious in the way he plays.

You’ve heard the term run through a brick wall? This guy will die on the ice for the club and his teammates. Whatever you need in terms of effort, he’ll give it to you.

McLean's Pub

Need a huge hit on the forecheck? He’s your guy. Someone to stand up and drop the gloves with someone twice his size? There’s Mike. Can someone put their body on the line to block a shot? By God, that’s Pezzeta’s music! Any gritty, nasty, snarly, in-your-face action your mind can conjure up, Michael Pezzetta will do it. If it means helping his team win.

What has been most frustrating for most Montreal Canadiens fans out there hasn’t been the lack of goals or wins, although that hasn’t helped. What has been most frustrating has been a perceived lack of effort. Guys not paying the price. Shuffling meekly in to that good night. With Corey Perry gone, Shea Weber’s career hanging in the balance and Joel Edmundson out with a lower-body injury, the Habs have lost a lot in the bite department.

Pezzetta brings that edge, that reckless abandon in spades. Before this season, he had racked up 170 penalty minutes in three seasons in Laval. This year, he has toned it down to only 16 penalty minutes in eight games, to go along with a surprising six points so far in the AHL.

He’s playing his best hockey as a pro right now, so he’s earned this call up to the show. Now, we’ll see if he can find a spot in the hearts of Habs fans that have loved players just like him before.

You’ve seen him before

Not Michael Pezzetta exactly. But Montreal Canadiens fans have come to adore players who might not have the most skill but play with the most heart.

The most famous of which was John Ferguson, the most feared fighter of his era. In the 80’s, it was Chris Nilan, the team’s all-time penalty minutes leader. There was nothing either player wouldn’t do for their team. Not to manage they could produce offensively.

It’s highly unlikely that Pezzetta will rise to the stratosphere of two of the club’s most beloved heart and soul players. But in recent memory, there have been examples of guys that fans continue to remember because of their fearlessness. Ryan White. Steve Begin. Tom Kostopoulos. Shayne Corson. Lyle Odelein. Some of them didn’t last long in Montreal. But they do live long in the memories of the fans of this club.

Play with courage and la foule will love you. Maybe, just maybe, Michael Pezzetta is the next Hab that fans will fall for.

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Margie Ste croix

Let’s hope so

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