Jonathan Huberdeau signed the richest contract in Calgary Flames history this summer.
But he might have had to remind his mom that the raise doesn’t come into effect until next season.
“Usually my mom brings 50 people,” Huberdeau told reporters in Montreal after Monday’s morning skate at the Bell Centre.
“I don’t even have time to say hi, so keep it kind of reasonable tonight.”
Reasonable isn’t something often mentioned in the same breath in the hockey hotbed of Montreal, where the Flames face the Canadiens on Monday night.
Fans are always invested, whether the team is rebuilding and looking at missing the playoffs entirely, or making an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup final.
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter reminisced earlier about his first experience — the opener at the old Montreal Forum when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks and tasked with shutting down the late Guy Lafleur.
“It was game on when you were here. Trying to catch Guy Lafleur … at least then you could use two ropes,” Sutter said with a laugh, noting the obvious rule changes in today’s era.
His Blackhawks won that game 8-7, he says.
Did he score?
“No, I held Guy Lafleur to a hat-trick,” he said. “Those were good teams.”
This is one of those rebuilding years, but the Canadiens are still dangerous as they showed in their recent trip to Calgary. The Habs won that one 2-1 on a special night for former Flames star Sean Monahan.
Wednesday, it’s Huberdeau’s homecoming of sorts. He has played many games in Montreal, where his parents still reside just 45 minutes or so from the rink. This, though, is his first with his new team.
“When I was a kid, obviously I was a Habs fan. It’s a special rink. The atmosphere is great here,” Huberdeau said. “In front of family and friends, it’s always something I look forward to, coming here.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun tonight.”
The level of fun may rest with the team’s performance.
They couldn’t get much past goalie Jake Allen in the last one. And Jacob Markstrom made that infamous slide that led to rookie Juraj Slafkovsky’s goal 13 seconds into the game.
Markstrom’s viral “I just suck at hockey right now” comment followed and this will be just his second start since then.
He’ll need some offensive support. Which is where Huberdeau comes in. Sutter said he needs more from his top players and it doesn’t get more top than the 29-year-old who netted 115 points last season.
After a slow start, he’s been at a point-per-game pace for the last eight. His line alongside Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli is also one of the most difficult to score on in the entire league. People keep waiting to see some offensive chemistry, but the bar was set so high by the Johnny Gaudreau, Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk dominance.
“I think we can have more looks. We don’t get scored on, but I think we gotta be more in the offensive zone, create more chances,” Huberdeau said of his line’s production.
“It’s not on them,” he added when asked if his linemates needed to learn his tendencies and be prepared to take a pass at any time. “I think I’ve got to find a way to find the guys, shoot more, a little bit. I used to pass a lot and it’s not really working this year. I’ve got to keep it simple and shoot more.”