Every mornin’ at the rink you could see him arrive
He stood six-foot-four and weighed two-fifteen
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn’t give no lip to Big Joel
🎶 (Big Joel, big Joel)
Big bad Joel (big Joel) 🎶
You will have recognized the adaptation of Jimmy Dean‘s classic “Big Bad John”, customized explicitly for one of the Canadiens’ newest arrivals, Joel Edmundson. He is a big boy. He can skate. He can check. He can be mean and punishing. He’s a Stanley Cup winner and he’s in his prime. He was scheduled to become a UFA but decided to make Montreal is home for the next four seasons. But we knew all of that. What we didn’t know however is that he took it upon himself to call Habs’ captain Shea Weber before signing his new contract with the team.
The Weber and Price effect
The Manitoba native has made Kelowna, British Columbia, his new home, as have Weber and Carey Price. He knows both guys as he skates with them in the off-season, along with Brent Seabrook and with brothers Brayden and Luke Schenn, amongst others. But he said that his mind was pretty much made up prior to calling the Canadiens’ captain.
I knew that the Canadiens wanted me and I wanted to sign right away. I had no intention of testing the market. Knowing Price and Weber, and with my good friend Jake Allen who had just been traded, it helped. I didn’t know anyone when I found myself in Carolina a year ago.
What is further amazing is that Edmundson was making $3,1 million in his last contract and he signed for $400,000 more with the Canadiens. That’s something very rare as a pending UFA, particularly a 27 year-old Top-4 defenseman. There is little doubt that he would have received a better offer had he tested the market.
Not only is the Canadiens’ new defenseman looking forward to sporting his new uniform, he also made his family happy with his decision.
Montreal has always been my family’s favourite team. It’s a dream not only for me, but for my family. My father’s family is French Canadian. My grandmother and other members of the family speak French. I studied in French immersion for nine years. My French is rusty, but I want to get back at it.
St. Louis and Carolina
The emergence of Vince Dunn in St. Louis was slowly relegating him to third pairing in St. Louis, he who was pretty much a shoe-in on the Top-4. But for a team tight to the cap ceiling, his contract was too rich for the Blues’ budget and he was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
I was disappointed to be traded, particularly after winning the Stanley Cup. I was leaving my best friends. But I was expecting it after winning my case in arbitration.
He played very well for the Hurricanes even though he struggled with their style of play. You see, big defensemen would rather play zone defense instead of chasing smaller, quicker skaters around their own zone. For one thing, you know that they will eventually have to come back to the front of the net to score but also, you don’t get caught out of position as often and you conserve energy.
Carolina plays a man to man defence. You have to follow your player everyone in the defensive zone. In St. Louis, it was more of a zone defence, leaving our opponent to the forward along the board further in the defensive zone. I had to adjust but after a while, I was more comfortable. It seems like the Canadiens’ style is closer to the Blues’.
In the playoffs in Carolina, he was given the task to play against the Rangers’ top line and they have not allowed a single goal, the Hurricanes sweeping the series in three games. He injured himself in the first game against the Bruins but already had played 30 minutes in that game. Only Jacob Slavin had more ice time for the Canes. He finished the playoffs with the third most ice time, behind only Slavin and Dougie Hamilton. So if someone is trying to tell you that he’s not a top-4 defenseman in the NHL, they’re dead wrong, as we clearly demonstrated.
The Canes were interested in signing me but there were a lot of defensemen on the team in Carolina. With the injuries they suffered last winter, Hamilton and Peace would not have played in the playoffs had it not been for the pandemic so the team went and got more defensemen.
What the future holds
Many people in Montreal and around the league, compare him to Ben Chiarot. At the time of the signature, we made the correlation in a previous article. If he turns out like Chiarot did, everyone will be happy.
Ben Chiarot is solid everywhere on the ice. Some people think that I’m a defensive defenseman only, but both Chiarot and I can contribute offensively.
Fans and media members are having fun trying to determine pairings for the start of the season, whenever that is. Some totally underestimate Edmundson or overvalue Brett Kulak, having the new acquisition on the third pairing. Unless he has a terrible training camp, that’s not going to happen folks. Edmundson will be starting on the Top-4 in Montreal and he was told that by the organisation.
They are looking for a big defenseman who can play against the opponent’s top lines and based on what Marc Bergevin and Claude Julien told me, it looks like I’ll be playing with Jeff Petry. It will allow him more freedom offensively while I’ll take care of our zone. That’s the plan for the time being.
From reading Twitter, it is clear that Habs’ fans are getting frustrated with the pandemic holding off the start of the season. Who can blame them? For the first time in years, the team has spent to the cap ceiling and they have acquired four quality players while only losing one (Max Domi) in the process. There are high hopes for the Canadiens and no one feels it more than head coach Claude Julien, who job could be on the line pending a slow start. But that’s for another day folks. Go Habs Go!
Quotes credit to La Presse.