Headed in the right direction
It’s been a rough couple of years for Ben Maxwell and Mathieu Carle, hampered by injuries that have shortened their seasons. But at this year’s development camp, the pair is looking ahead to a healthy 2008-09 campaign.
Drafted four picks apart (49th and 53rd overall) in 2006, Maxwell and Carle dressed for just 31 and 64 games with the Kootenay Ice (WHL) and Hamilton Bulldogs, respectively.
“I hope I’m done with injuries,” admitted Maxwell. “It’s been a couple of fluky ones and both were time-consuming. All I could do was just sit around and wait for them to heal.
“It was really frustrating, especially since the last couple of years have been big ones for me. But I’m fortunate enough to have gotten into the Canadiens’ system and they’ve given me every opportunity, even with the injuries.”
The setbacks clearly didn’t affect the 20-year-old center’s scoring touch, with Maxwell finishing the year with 27 points before adding nine more in 10 playoff games.
While Maxwell saw some NHL action in a couple of preseason games in 2007, Carle suffered a knee injury in the first period of the Canadiens’ first training camp contest. Not exactly the way the Gatineau native had hoped to start his professional career.
“Last year was my first year pro so when I finally made it back, I wasn’t used to playing with NHL players. As the year went on, though, I adapted thanks to the Hamilton Bulldogs staff,” said Carle.
But the praise didn’t end with the folks in Hamilton.
“Paul Lawson is awesome to work with,” said Carle of the skating coach helping out at the camp. “He really knows his stuff and lets me know if he sees something wrong. The rest of the staff is great too. To see them perform all the drills perfectly, it motivates us to do the same.”
Maxwell was just as happy.
“Paul and Gaston [Gingras] are great coaches. They definitely know what they’re doing. We’re learning about lateral thinking and balance, and it’s good. I like it,” he added.
A veteran at his third development camp and recovered from his injuries, Maxwell is feeling confident a few months away from training camp.
“This year, my testing scores were all better and I feel better,” said the North Vancouver native. “I’m bigger, a little stronger and a little faster. As the summer goes on, I’ll keep training and hopefully come out flying in camp.”
While the expectation is that both will suit up for Hamilton in the fall, neither is setting that as their ultimate goal.
“Hamilton is obviously the next step but I’m just going to go into camp in the fall and show them what I can do,” said Maxwell. “Wherever I end up, I’m hoping to have a solid year and help the team in any way I can.”
“I got injured at the beginning of training camp last season so obviously this year I want to keep going further,” admitted Carle. “If it goes well, hopefully I can go far in training camp and then, who knows?”