HabsWorld.net -- 

Training camp looms near, and we can finally all focus on hockey being played
instead of salaries and trade rumours (well… we can also focus on
hockey being played.) As the players look to impress coaches and management, and
firmly establish themselves on the team, some guys out there will be preparing
for the season with a little extra pressure than the rest. Ignoring the young
prospects who clearly have everything to prove, and also ignoring the boring cliché: "There are twenty-three
players with something to prove," here is a list of five players that are coming into camp with a lot of
eyes on them and a lot of pressure to perform.

    5. Ryan O’Byrne

After infamously scoring on his own net, O’Byrne spent the rest of the season
playing apologetically for everything he did. There isn’t much time for
questioning one’s play at the NHL level, and O’Byrne appeared to be
questioning every move he made. With the current set of defensemen in
Montreal, O’Byrne is being primed for baby-stepping his way back into the lineup.
But with Mike Komisarek gone, and an elder Hal Gill here for only two seasons,
Ryan O’Byrne needs to get back on track and prove he’s an NHL calibre, physical

    4. Georges Laraque

Look, last season was a wash. Laraque was never healthy
enough to ever gain momentum, and at no point was he really in a condition to
play like he’s expected to. He gets a free pass, but with a proviso: improved
play this season. Without improved play, last season changes from a free pass to
the start of recurring history, and that just won’t do. Georges also has to
watch his back, as there is a very driven grinder in Greg Stewart absolutely
aching to take Laraque’s spot in the lineup. Enjoy your clean slate, Georges …
it won’t last long. (On a lesser note, Laraque also needs to prove
to many that vegetarians can be tough.)

    3. Brian Gionta

I can only assume Bob Gainey offered Gionta
the $5 000 000 for five years while he crossed his fingers, knocked on wood and
amputated a
rabbit to get its paws. The idea behind his signing is that Gionta had a career
year when on a line with Scott Gomez; and, that reuniting the pair could bring
back that kind of production. But when your contract is based more on hope and
wishing, and less on statistics and current value, you have something to prove.

    2. Carey Price

It’s tough being the franchise player.
It’s probably tougher being the franchise player in Montreal. It’s definitely
tougher being the franchise player in Montreal when you’re a goalie.
Expectations are high for Carey Price, there’s no doubt about that, but Bob Gainey has handed Price the #1 goalie spot and Price hasn’t been able to
really claim it yet. Consistency is the issue, and all eyes are on Price to
see if he can fully vault himself into the role he was offered two seasons ago.

    1. Scott Gomez

"Congratulations Scott Gomez,
you’ve just been traded to the Montreal Canadiens! You come with a contract that
is universally regarded as being one of the worst in hockey. To get you,
Montreal gave up one of its top defense prospects who, most agree, had Top 4
potential. You just finished a year in which you put up your lowest points
total in 6 seasons. You also have replaced the roster spot of the Canadiens’
former captain, Saku Koivu, which leaves a leadership gap on this team
that you will most likely be called upon to fill. Your life has now pretty much
become a fishbowl to a rabid fanbase – a group that collectively tends to have short-term
memory loss and only remembers your last shift, and is prone to
vehement, knee-jerk reactions to poor play. So Scott Gomez: what are you going to
do now?

"I’m going to Disneyland! … Seriously, get me
outta here!"