Gazette Habs beat writer Pat Hickey, who disappeared for a month to get his knee replaced, is back in time for the beginning of the regular season (this is how hardcore he is - he schedules major surgery around the Canadiens' playing schedule). His first Standing Pat column back on the beat explains his recovery process and mentions the sympathy he now feels for athletes who have to keep themselves in shape.
Pat also participates in the first episode of the Habs Inside/Out PuckCast, which returns for a third season.
Meanwhile on another page, Stephanie Myles (who with Dave Stubbs has been covering the Canadiens in Hickey's absence) has a feature on the RDS guys, Pierre Houde and Benoit Brunet, the latter replacing Yvon Pedneault as the play-by-play analyst. Near the end it goes into Pedneault's dismissal:
But both Houde and Brunet said they were surprised Pedneault got the axe.
"I didn't know it was in RDS's plans," Houde said. "That's what's happy and sad about our line of work, we're all freelance workers who work together. And as Benoît has said, it's like a hockey team. Your linemate is traded, or retires, or he becomes a free agent. You stay and work with someone new."
Given the superhuman ratings during last year's playoff run - close to 3 million viewers - Brunet also didn't see the decision on Pedneault coming.
"I wasn't expecting it," he said. "But the phone rang. I always said I'll wait, and when they give me the sign I'll be there. It happened this year. I was surprised."
The article also goes in depth about technical and programming changes for the new season.
Myles Someone who may or may not be Myles, what with this byline strikyness, also writes a sidebar about anglo Canadiens fans watching French broadcasts (and vice versa).
Finally, today is the first appearance of The Gazette's new roughly-monthly Hockey Inside/Out special section, which includes in-depth coverage of the advertising goldmine very popular Canadiens. Eight of them will be produced over the coming centennial season.
The special section includes an article from Mike Boone on how the Habs Inside/Out site was born (it was an idea of Editor-in-Chief Andrew Phillips), as well as the usual season-preview fare.