Lars Eller reported to an abbreviated Canadiens training camp last January in the best shape of his life — fitter stronger and faster than at any previous time in his young NHL career. Next month when the Habs open camp for 2013-14 Eller expects to be superior in every way. The 24-year-old centre/forward enjoyed a breakout season in the lockout-shortened campaign his 30 points in 46 games two points better than what he recorded in 79 games the year before. If there was any bitter residue from the Canadiens having traded goalie Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis in June 2010 to acquire Eller the forward’s performance last season should have erased it. And then suddenly it came to a sickening bloody end at the Bell Centre in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Eller flattened by Ottawa defenceman Eric Gryba at the Canadiens blue line. Eller was knocked colder than a banker’s heart suffering a concussion broken nose and shattered teeth that marked the beginning of the Canadiens’ playoff end. Montreal fell quietly to the Senators in five games its roster decimated by injuries as the series wore on. Eller didn’t remember anything about the check in its immediate aftermath and he still doesn’t today. “I’ve seen the replay which is the closest I’m going to come to remembering it” Eller said on Saturday. “Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t remember. It was a shocking incident for everybody watching. I haven’t really thought much about it since. It’s in the past.” Eller made a remarkable recovery in the days following the check returning to near game shape in solo practice before the Canadiens were bounced by the Senators. He last spoke with the media 12 weeks ago in the Habs’ Brossard dressing room as the team packed up for the summer. At his stall with a bandage on the bridge of his nose holding court beneath portraits of Hall of Famers Jean Béliveau and Bernie Geoffrion Eller talked of neurological tests still to be done to confirm his full health. Having passed them all and then trained ferociously through June and July Eller sounded on Saturday like a caged animal that couldn’t wait for his trainer to open the door. He returned to Montreal last week from his native Denmark where he spent almost the past two months with his wife Julie and their 10-month-old child. Eller has excellent dryland training facilities in Denmark but says August ice is easier to find in Montreal. He expects to be skating within the next week picking up the pace as more players return to town. “I feel great completely healed” Eller said. “I did some more testing in Brossard (in mid- to late May) to make sure everything was back to normal to make sure there were no symptoms related to the concussion. There haven’t been any.” The summer of 2012 was Eller’s first offseason in his past three to train uninterrupted twice previously rehabbing from shoulder surgery. He reported to Habs camp last January in tremendous shape which carried him to an excellent season. This summer he’s turned everything up a notch. “I’ve been able to train as freely as I wanted to” Eller said again working on the strength nutrition and supplement plan of personal trainer Jean-François Gaudreau.
Fit, healthy Canadiens Eller itching to get back
Montreal Gazette | Aug 5