Bonk won't be frontliner

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:32 PM ET

Radek Bonk didn't pan out as a No. 1 centre in Ottawa.

He won't start the season in Montreal that way, either.

The former Senator is No. 3 on the Canadiens' depth chart behind Saku Koivu and Mike Ribiero going into training camp --probably right where he should be, according to Habs coach Claude Julien.

While there were plenty of expectations in Ottawa for Bonk to become the Senators' top centre, he won't face the same scenario in Montreal. Julien plans to hold a face-to-face meeting with Bonk before camp opens this week at the Bell Centre.

"What we like about Radek is that he can be a solid No. 3 centre for us and if we run into injury problems, then he is the kind of guy who can move up to the No. 1 or No. 2 position with no problem," said Julien.

"We're not expecting Radek Bonk to be a two-way player for us. He doesn't have to come in and be seen as a guy who has to score 80 points. We just want him to be good for us at both ends of the ice. We lost Joe Juneau (at centre) and we feel like Radek is a guy who can step in to be comfortable in that role for us."

Julien, an Orleans native, met Bonk during the Canadiens' annual golf tournament last week in Montreal. They only had time for a brief chat and it's the first time they've spoken since Bonk was dealt to the Habs in a three-way trade that also included the Los Angeles Kings.

"I'm kind of thinking that I might start him out training camp playing with a guy like (Jan) Bulis. I'll see how those two fit together and then I'll go from there," said Julien.

"Look, Saku Koivu and Mike Ribiero are No. 1 and No. 2 centres. They've been in that role before and they deserve it. I've talked to (former Senators coach) Jacques Martin about Radek and I know what kind of role (Martin) feels (Bonk) can play for us. I don't know what happened here and I don't know what they felt about him in Ottawa, but I feel like this might be a good change for Radek."

Bonk won't carry the weight of being a No. 1 pick who didn't live up to expectations offensively in Montreal, either.

"Sometimes a change is the best thing for player and that might be the situation here," said Julien.

ROOKIES WRAP IT UP: The Senators closed out their rookie tournament last night with a 3-2 loss to the Habs. Baby Sens coach Dave Cameron called it a worthwhile experience. "What this does for the young players is gives them a chance to perform in a pro atmosphere and for some of them, they'll find out what they are going to be facing when they get to the main training camp," said Cameron. David Desharnais and Guillaume Labrecque scored goals last night for the Sens, who finished fourth in the tourney at 1-2-1. James Sanford, Michael Lambert and Maxim Lapierre scored for the third-place Habs (2-2-0) ... Toronto finished the tourney at a perfect 4-0-0. The Leafs edged the winless (0-3-1) Florida Panthers 2-1. Carolina wound up second at 3-1-0 ... Also yesterday, the Leafs inked free-agent D Brad Brown to a one-year contract.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos