Jonathan Huberdeau addressed the rumours linking him to the Montreal Canadiens this summer and his response was interesting to say the least.
However, in an interview with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts podcast, the Flames forward spoke to the rumours linking him to the Montreal Canadiens this summer. Despite having one year left on his contract before free agency status, the moment he was acquired by the Flames, the hockey world thought: what if? It also appears that Huberdeau himself pondered the question too:
“I know a lot of people were saying that: ‘Play one year in Calgary and then play for Montreal,’” said Huberdeau of the noise going on around him after the trade to Calgary. “As much as I love Montreal, I dunno. I think it’s a tough city for a French-Canadian. Calgary traded for me. If Montreal wanted to trade for me, they would’ve traded for me. That’s how I see it. And I want to play for a team that wants me. Calgary wanted me, so that’s why I wanted to sign a big extension.”
It’s interesting from this viewpoint, as the Flames were indeed aggressive in acquiring Huberdeau. WithHuberdeau signed to an 8-year contract with the Calgary Flames that will see him paid an average of $10.5M until age 38, the idea of Huberdeau in Montreal instantly disappeared like a Thanos snap.
However, what was likely the most striking about his statement was that he openly expressed the sentiment that it is indeed difficult to play in the Montreal market as a French Canadian. It’s a reality that many are aware of; especially Huberdeau, who spends a lot of time back home during time off. When the most talented French Canadian player in the NHL today openly expresses his reservations about playing in his home market, it hits home a little stronger.
General manager Kent Hughes has said multiple times that the Canadiens will continue to try and bring in local players and give them the tools and support to thrive in this market. He didn’t deny his interest in Pierre Luc Dubois and has openly expressed a desire to bring in more of a local presence when possible. Perhaps this era will be the one to turn the narrative around and make Montreal a desirable place for Quebec-born players to come to, as it was in the golden days.