Montreal Canadiens: Louis Leblanc Joins the Habs on the West Coast

Jason HitelmanCorrespondent INovember 29, 2011

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 28: Louis Leblanc #20 of Canada skates ahead of Jakub Orsava #27  of the Czech Republic during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Canada and Czech Republic on December 28, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Montreal Canadiens fans will not be seeing Max Pacioretty for the next three games as he serves a suspension for his blindside hit on Kristopher Letang. Perhaps the ruling was a little harsh, but a suspension was warranted.

The fact that anti-concussion poster boy Sidney Crosby was so vocal about the hit could have weighed on Brendan Shanahan's decision, but that's neither here nor there. The remorseful Pacioretty will serve his suspension and move on.

His replacement for the next three games will be a familiar face that the Habs faithful have been waiting to see.

Louis Leblanc will make his debut with the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge on their current West Coast swing.

In 14 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Leblanc has scored four goals and registered 10 assists. Those are pretty good numbers considering the lack of scoring punch on an anemic team that sits in the basement of the league.

Thankfully for Louis, he won't have to endure the pressure of playing in front of the home crowd—at least not for now. There are a lot of unfair expectations for the hometown boy, mostly due to the fact that he is a francophone drafted in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Most experts predict that Leblanc will be a very good third-line centreman, quite the departure from the scoring superstar that fans are expecting. He will most likely not be the second coming of Guy Lafleur and that is something that everyone will soon have to accept.

There is no shame in being a great third-liner—think about how many teams would love to have Jordan Staal (perhaps an extreme case, but you get the point).

For now, and from afar, all eyes will be on Louis.

The question is if he will be replacing Pacioretty on the Desharnais line. One would think that Andrei Kostitsyn would move up on the depth chart, but he has legitimate chemistry with Lars Eller.

Coach Jacques Martin has not shown much empathy for his call-ups. Ask Aaron Palushaj if, while coming up in the ranks, he ever envisioned himself playing on the fourth line.

I wonder if Leblanc will be seeing significant minutes or will be relegated to the same amount of negligible ice time as other bottom-liners have seen this season.

We will know more once Leblanc joins the Habs at practice.

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