Hab loving life up front

, Last Updated: 8:21 AM ET

MONTREAL -- When training camp opened last month, it wasn't certain that veteran defenceman Mathieu Dandenault still had a place in the Montreal Canadiens lineup.

But versatility paid off for the 31-year-old, who has reverted to the the position he played when he first entered the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings in 1994-95 -- right wing.

"Since I started in the league, it's kind of been my claim to fame," Dandenault said yesterday. "For a coaching staff and an organization, it's good to have a guy who can play everywhere, in case there's injuries or whatever.

"It's good to rely on that rather than calling up a young guy from the minors. I've played a lot of games."

Actually, the Canadiens have two players who can play both defence and forward. Mark Streit, a career defenceman who played most of last season on left wing, has moved back to the blue line.

Coach Guy Carbonneau said Streit was strong in camp on defence and looked confident in his natural position. Also, the Swiss veteran has taken over the right point position on the power play previously held by Sheldon Souray, who left as a free agent for Edmonton.

Meanwhile, veteran Patrice Brisebois had rejoined the club as a free agent, but his health was a question mark coming off surgery last winter on a herniated disc in his back.

"We didn't know how he was going to react, so having Mathieu in the lineup gave us an option if Briser went down in a game," Carbonneau said. "But he has been playing well.

"He has been one of our best forwards. He's big, he's strong and he can skate."

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Dandenault hasn't complained about being bumped from his position as Francis Bouillon's defence partner by Streit.

"Mark played great at forward last year and he has played solid this year on defence," the Sherbrooke, Que., native said. "I have no problem with that.

"He's a great player. I don't mind going up to forward. You get a chance to play and to score. It's a lot of fun, and there's a lot less responsibilities, that's for sure."

Playing on the fourth line with Steve Begin and Kyle Chipchura, his ice-time is among the team's lowest, but is still a decent 11:11 per game.

Now the question is whether Dandenault will stay on the wing.

"It's too early to tell," he said. "People were making some comments even before training camp started, but I've been around long enough to know that you don't make up the lineup in September."


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