Unsung Hero: Ti-Paul Byron

The Montreal Canadiens hit the jackpot when claiming Paul Byron off waivers. That, everybody knows. But it hasn’t always been easy for the undersized speedster, who has been told too many times that he wouldn’t be making it to the show. Too small and not heavy enough were the reasons he was given each time. But that didn’t stop him from pushing the envelope, proving doubters wrong and that, at every level that he’s played.

Let’s go back in time. It’s June 22nd, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio. In Nationwide Arena, it is with great anticipation that hundreds of young men aspiring to, one day, fulfil their dream to play in the NHL are attending the league’s 45th Entry Draft. Patrick Kane is the first name being called to the podium, selected by the Chicago Blackhawks. But it’s on the second day of the Draft that Paul Byron heard his name… finally. We are in the sixth round and 178 prospects have been called. It’s the Buffalo Sabres’ turn and they called Byron. Step one of the dream had finally come through.

Byron was drafted by the Sabres

On January 23, 2011, called up from Rochester, Byron played in his first NHL game against the New York Islanders in Long Island. He managed to record his first point, an assist, in his first game. Two days later, he scored his first NHL goal in his hometown, in Ottawa, against the Senators. He ended up playing six more games with the Sabres that season and was traded to Calgary on June 25th of that year, along with Chris Butler in exchange for Ales Kotalik, Robyn Regehr and a 2012 2nd round pick .

The Habs claimed Byron off waivers from the Flames

On October 5, 2015, looking to add toughness to their line-up, Flames’ management decided to try sending the Ottawa native down to the AHL and placed him on waivers. Not only didn’t he go down that season, but he has never even come close to being sent back down after the Canadiens put in a claim for him. Byron ended up playing 130 games with the Flames, managing 16 goals and 46 points in Cowtown. To this date, this waiver claim figures amongst GM Marc Bergevin‘s best hockey decisions since taking over the reigns in Montreal.

An impact player

Byron has some good memories of Columbus. Not only did he get drafted in that City, but he also just played his 400th game in the NHL against the Blue Jackets and to commemorate the milestone, he scored his 11th goal of the season in that game, helping his team edge Columbus by the score of 3-2.

Paul Byron is a warrior. Listed at 5-foot 9-inches and 163 lbs (those numbers might be generous), he has managed 64 goals and 116 points in 262 games with the Canadiens. Along with Brendan Gallagher, Byron is part of the Habs’ leadership group as an Assistant to team Captain Shea Weber. His relentless work ethics and the way he conducts himself on and off the ice, his outstanding defensive ability, his blazing speed and fearless attitude make of him a genuine impact player for the most storied franchise of the NHL.

Many would venture to say that he is likely one of the most underrated players not only on the Canadiens, but in the entire NHL. One thing we know for sure: management and coaches love him, fans love him and he genuinely loves playing in Montreal. Here’s hoping that he can be surrounded by quality player and raise the Stanley Cup over his head one day, wearing the red, white and blue number 41. Go Habs Go!

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Tinordi and Pateryn Situation Raises Concerns

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There is no denying that in order for a team to be successful throughout a season and during a playoffs’ run, it must have tons of quality depth. There is also no denying that with the CBA designed the way it is today, teams are reluctant in sending players waivers eligible to the minors in fear of losing them to other teams.

The Canadiens’ organisation doesn’t have to look long and hard to remember when François Beauchemin, called up from the AHL to fill-in for an injured Sheldon Souray, was sent back down when the veteran defenseman was healthy again, only to be claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets in September 2004… and we know the career that he’s had since.

By not wanting to risk the same with young promising prospects Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn, General Manager Marc Bergevin decided to keep eight defensemen with the big club to start the season. What is more puzzling however is the fact that it took until November 14th for Pateryn to see any game action and to December 21st for Tinordi to do the same. Pateryn has skated in 10 of the Canadiens’ 42 games so far, while Tinordi only took part in three games!

It gets more bizarre! When injuries occurred to the defensive core, Mark Barberio was called up and he has played in five consecutive games since. It looks like he will be playing a sixth game as this morning at practice, he was seen on the powerplay with Nathan Beaulieu, replacing injured Jeff Petry who is day to day with a lower body injury.

While everyone can understand not wanting to lose players to waivers, one has to wonder what not playing at all does for the development of Pateryn (25) and Tinordi (23) and really, what good it serves for all parties involved.

Yes, we keep hearing that a trade could happen but come on, it’s been 42 games, passed the halfway point of the season. Credit to both players for not pulling a Jonathan Drouin (Lightning) or Kerby Rychel (Blue Jackets) and going public with trade requests! How long before they do though, and could anyone in their right mind blame them for doing so?