damn i wish i knew french if some one could be nice enough to give me a small sumary of this article in english please :]
Thursday January 15 2004 - HAMILTON (CP) - The Canadiens seem to finally have a true farm team, and Doug Jarvis appreciates Jozef Balej and his young Bulldogs' lineup. They are dominating their AHL division standing with a record of 22-14-5-2.
In a conference call on Thursday, the rookie coach was quite willing to praise his players, but he didn't want to get ahead of himself in promoting their chances to make the NHL, ready or not.
Balej, who will be 22 on February 22, is the player who draws the most attention, having climbed to third place in AHL scoring with 43 points in as many games, including 23 goals.
"Since the first day of the season he has brought leadership to the offense, Jarvis said. He works very hard and in a very professional manner. He is always one of the first to arrive, ready to go."
His speed of execution is his premier quality. As for knowing at which point he is ready for the NHL, Jarvis did not want to compromise himself.
"We have eight players born in 1982 or 1983, he answered, and all develop in a different way."
In the case of Balej, "He improves from game-to-game", Jarvis noted all the same. "He had to almost carry the offense after the recalls of Dagenais, Gratton and Plekanec, and that is what he did."
In the case of Chris Higgins, another great prospect, Jarvis spoke about a "unique situation".
"He comes from an American college and probably has already taken part in more games than he did all last season. He's learning the pro life, the three games in three nights in the American League, the bus trips...
"Same thing for Ron Hainsey, said Jarvis. He's developing.".
Bob Gainey wasn't taken to task recently for saying that Marcel Hossa was not a player who could hope to be recalled soon.
"He's still in apprenticeship, like the other young players, and they all react differently", Jarvis offered, admitting that the Slovak suffered from almost chronic inconsistancy.
The contribution of the veterans
Jarvis had good words for his veteran d-men Karl Dykhuis and Patrick Traverse, as well as for goalies Eric Fichaud and Jean-François Damphousse. The latter had caught fire after a difficult start to the season.
"They have a very good attitude, said Jarvis of the deposed NHL defensemen. Their experience helps us a lot. We have the opportunity to use veteran defensemen and goalies with our young forwards, and that is very useful to us."
Fichaud (shoulder), and Damphousse (thumb) are at present injured but should be able to play soon. Damphousse took part in the last practice and remained in uniform as a backup to Olivier Michaud, used in the last three games to good effect, according to Jarvis. The young prospect allowed only seven goals, in spite of a record of only one victory and two defeats.
Jarvis made a point of underlining the work of other young people, who work more in the shadows.
"A guy like Jonathan Ferland, he says, is not a scorer, but he is a good positional player, he is strong along the boards and he kills penalties well. And Jean-Philippe Côté, on defense, is a beautiful surprise."
Jarvis, in addition, is not surprised by the performance of Pierre Dagenais with the Canadiens since his recall: " Because he really is a natural scorer and he shoots whenever he has the chance. While with us, he was probably among the top three in the league in shots. He has this skill and a flair around the net. He formed a frankly dominant line with Gratton and Balej."
In the final analysis, Jarvis appreciates his first experience as a head coach: "It's enjoyable to coach young guys who are willing to learn, who want to learn and improve."
Four of them were selected to the American League all-star team, that is to say, Balej, Benoit Gratton, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Komisarek, and four, also, have already been promoted to the Canadiens: Dagenais, Gratton, Plekanec and Komisarek.