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Jake Allen loved being a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

The hockey-mad market, the crackling Bell Centre on a Saturday night, the Original Six franchise’s iconic logo.

The 33-year-old goaltender is also realistic.

With the Canadiens still in full rebuild mode – and two young netminders in Sam Montembeault and Cayden Primeau ready for more playing time – Allen could see the writing on the wall.

Desperate for help in their own crease, the New Jersey Devils asked Montreal about the veteran’s availability. But the team, general manager Tom Fitzgerald told reporters earlier this month, was initially on Allen’s no-trade list.

There wasn’t anything the Fredericton product disliked about the organization or city. The Devils simply appeared to have their crease set for years to come.

But when the club that finished with 112 points and made the second round of the playoffs in 2022-23 was badly hampered by poor play from Vitek Vanecek, Nico Daws and Akira Schmid – each netminder owned save percentages below .900 – the Devils circled back.

And Allen had changed his tune.

“Loved my time as a Hab,” he said of pulling on Montreal’s red, white and blue threads. “I always will cherish that. Put on probably the most special jersey in hockey, in my books. But you realize in your career, it doesn’t last forever.

“You’ve got to make decisions sometimes.”

Allen, who is signed through next season, eventually agreed to a deal that sent him to New Jersey ahead of the NHL’s March 8 trade deadline for a conditional third-round pick at the 2025 draft.

Apart from playing meaningful hockey on a team trying to claw its way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race, the swap gave him more runway to get his family settled in a new city instead of waiting to see what this summer’s crowded goalie market might bring.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit selfish,” said Allen, a Stanley Cup champion with the St. Louis Blues in 2019. “Look yourself in the mirror and wonder what’s best for you and your family.”

He’s been really good for his new team.

Allen was lights out in Tuesday’s first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs, making an eye-popping 25 saves in what would turn into New Jersey’s 6-3 victory.

So far he’s 4-2-0 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.51 goals against average in six starts for the Devils, who sit five points back of the East’s second wild-card spot.

“A real pro,” said interim head coach Travis Green.

Allen is a combined 10-14-3 in 2023-24 with a .900 save percentage and a 3.39 GAA. Across his 11 seasons with St. Louis, Montreal and now New Jersey, he’s 193-164-41 with a .908 save percentage and 2.75 GAA.

“Makes the saves we need to get some momentum back,” Devils captain Nico Hischier said. “If you have a solid goalie in the net, that makes your work easier.”

Allen is also 11-12 with a .924 and a 2.06 GAA all-time in the playoffs – a good sign for his new club should New Jersey manage to make the cut.

For now, though, he’s just enjoying being back in a postseason race.

“I thought this was a good opportunity to come in the rest of this year, play some games,” Allen said.

“It’s been a good start.”

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