Princeton hockey alumnus Mike Condon was named the backup goaltender for Montreal, the Canadiens announced on Monday.
“I found out yesterday morning,” Condon said over text message. “The head coach, Michel Therein, general manager Marc Bergevin and goalie coach Stephane Waite met me in the office and said I would be starting the season with the team.
“I was obviously very excited and humbled at the same time. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Condon spent training camp battling goaltender Dustin Tokarski, who was placed on waivers Monday morning.
“Every goaltending battle is very close,” Condon said. “Everyone at this level can stop the puck and everyone is very accomplished. I didn’t dwell too much on anyone else, though.”
The Massachusetts native said adjusting to the speed will be his biggest challenge at the next level.
“It takes a little while to learn/remember anticipatory skills and the speed of the shots,” Condon said.
The former Princeton netminder joined the Canadiens after graduating from Princeton in 2013. After spending two seasons in the Montreal organization, Condon said he approached this year’s training camp with more emphasis on the mental aspect.
“I did a lot of mental preparation during the summer that helps me remain calm and silences the inner monologue that many people and players have. This allows me to just play and let my training take over,” Condon said.
“The biggest thing I learned at camp and more so this summer was to not get too far ahead of myself. Stay in the moment, trust the process, and take care of daily details. That will bring you success.”
As a Canadien, Condon will back up Carey Price – nine-year NHL vet who’s won the Vezina Trophy, the Ted Lindsay Award and the Hart Memorial Trophy.
“I think I can learn from a lot of things Price does,” Condon said. “He’s the best goalie in the world. He’s so calm, so athletic, and he can anticipate and react to plays better than any goalie I’ve watched. I hope I adopt some of his traits.”
He split the remainder of the 2013 season between the ECHL and the AHL, and spent most of the 2013-14 season with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.
After spending 48 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs last year, Condon joined Montreal’s practice squad for the playoffs. He signed a two-year extension with Montreal’s organization last year. As a member of the big club, Condon said he’s trying to learn a little bit of French.
“The French language is hard to learn,” Condon said. “I try to learn a few words every day. It’s very hard to pick up words with people’s accents and the way each word is pronounced. I speak Spanish but the accent and delivery of words is very different.”
The Canadiens open their season on Oct. 7 against Toronto.
“The most exciting aspect of joining the Canadiens would have to be just playing for one of the most storied franchises in the NHL,” Condon said. “It’s such an honor, and I still have to pinch myself every day.”