Canadiens’ Greg Pateryn takes demotion in stride
Defenceman has improved in the last year and will use time in Hamilton to hone skills further
MONTREAL — It was a disappointed but philosophical-sounding Greg Pateryn who headed back to Hamilton Thursday, one of eight players at the Canadiens’ training camp who were reassigned to the Bulldogs.
“It’s obviously just disappointing, but it’s part of the process,” Pateryn said.
“I think they noticed that I worked on some things and I got better. And there’s a difference between the player I was last year and this year. So I’m glad that they were able to notice that,” he added.
“But there’s still things that I need to work on to be a full-time NHL defenceman. And I think I’ll be able to really utilize this time in Hamilton, get some good minutes in and just dominate down there.”
It was Pateryn’s first main training camp in the National Hockey League. The Canadiens acquired the 6-foot-2 Michigan native’s rights in the 2010 trade that sent forward Mikhail Grabovski to Toronto. The Maple Leafs drafted Pateryn, now 23, in the fifth round at the 2008 draft, 128th overall.
Pateryn, a stay-at-home defenceman who plays a physical game and tries to keep things simple, played four preseason games for the Canadiens and felt good at the beginning of camp.
“I think I kind of found myself on my heels a little bit toward the end of it, trying to stay away from making mistakes when at the start of it I was just playing more of my game,” he said. “And I think I kind of got away from that a little bit.
“I think that’s something that I’ll be able to work on, too, is being more consistent and just getting some confidence back down there. And hopefully if they need a guy to come up, I can translate that into the NHL.”
Coach Michel Therrien noted early on during training camp that Pateryn’s skating and skills had improved a lot since last year.
“So a year of professional (hockey) really helped him. We could tell this year at camp,” Therrien said after the Canadiens’ first preseason game on Sept. 15.
Pateryn said he worked on his skating in Hamilton last season and a lot this summer.
“Skating has never really been the strongest suit in my game, so that was something I needed to work on,” he said.Pateryn met for an exit meeting on Thursday with Therrien and Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin.
“They told me what I needed to work on. I felt the same way,” Pateryn said. “I think we’re all on the same page as far as where I am and what I need to do, and what I need to do to stay there.”
Short little passes and being confident are things they want him to work on, he said.
Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre and assistant coach Donald Dufresne are both former NHL defencemen.
“Being able to pick up stuff from them is huge,” Pateryn said.
“Sylvain is a really good coach. He sees the game really well. He’s very good at analyzing what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right, and very good at helping you work on those little things.”
Last season was Pateryn’s first with the Bulldogs. A fractured elbow kept him out of the lineup for three months, but he played well when he returned to the Bulldogs’ lineup in February and also played three games for the Canadiens.
He reports to the Bulldogs’ training camp Friday morning.
“I think it will be good for me to be down here and work on some things that I need to just so the next time I do get called up, I’ll be able to play with that confidence and just not worry about making mistakes.”
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