Taking a first proper spin around the Bell Centre ice wearing the home jersey is already a big enough deal for a childhood fan of the Montreal Canadiens.
But Daniel Brière will have considerably more than that on his mind when he steps out for Tuesday’s season opener against Toronto (7 p.m., CBC, RDS).
“My thoughts are going to be with my mom,” said the 35-year-old native of Gatineau, Que.
Brière lost his mother Constance – a rabid Habs fan who raised her son right – to a brain haemorrhage in the summer of 2012, his only tinge of regret is that she never got to see him pull on the bleu-blanc-rouge.
“I really think she would have enjoyed seeing me play here and not get booed, to be on the good side,” said the former Philadelphia Flyer, who signed with Montreal as a free agent this summer.
He’s been in the league long enough to have seen it all, but Brière admitted to feeling some jitters ahead of the first game of the season.
“I feel like a little kid,” he said, later adding that “I slept really well . . . but I think the nap will be a little harder to come by this afternoon.”
It’s a sentiment that’s broadly shared among his new teammates, who can feel the city buzzing over the start of a new season.
“I’m sure I’ll be nervous, but you can’t focus on that once the puck drops,” said rookie defenceman Jarred Tinordi, who will play in his first NHL season opener.
Tinordi steps in for the injured Douglas Murray alongside veteran Francis Bouillon, and Brière takes over the right wing slot occupied by Erik Cole in last year’s curtain-raiser at the Air Canada Centre (and later taken up by Michael Ryder).
Tough guy George Parros, another off-season acquisition, is expected to lineup on a rough-hewn fourth line with Brandon Prust and Travis Moen.
Carey Price starts in net.