Habs shape up for camp..Well, almost all of 'em

It was fitness and medical testing day, as the Montreal Canadiens training camp officially opened. The 64 players turned their heads an coughed, ran a battery of fitness tests and posed for their individual photos.

After a summer of viewing tweets from Mike Cammalleri and P.K. Subban on their strenuous off-season training drills, and the recuperation work of both Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, we kind of get an idea of what most NHLers are doing these days to prepare for an upcoming season.

Today's session allowed us to see where the players stood, and for the better part all were impressive, with Hamilton Bulldogs captain Alex Henry surprising many with his fitness level.

There was one exception though..

A photo of Alexei Yemelin, taken by the Montreal Gazette's Dave Sidaway, shows what appears to be a rather bloated Russian defenseman. For time being we can cue the Kyle Wellwood type jokes, or Vladimir Krutov redux.

Considering all the hype surrounding the 25-year old's potential over the last several years, let's hope that he didn't blow his signing bonus on a year's supply of Krispy Kreme. Maybe's one of those "raw natural strength types." Yeah that's it.

Regardless of his appearance, Yemelin will get to prove himself and has Markov as his mentor as camp begins. Both defenseman are on the "Team A" camp squad, and are neighbors in the locker room.

Tests aside, the big topic on the minds for Habs fans and scribes was that of Markov, who did acknowledge that swelling in his knee, which can be expected after surgery, has slowed his recovery. He remains optimistic that he will be ready for the season opener.

Markov dispelled the report, by the Team990's Tony Marinaro, that there was a rift between both he and team management over his recuperation.  "There are days when I’m disappointed at the progress of my rehab," Markov said. "But I have nothing against the team or the medical staff."

The camp squads also give us a sneak peak at what Jacques Martin is looking for in terms of his top three lines. Tomas Plekanec, Erik Cole and Cammalleri are on "Team A", Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty are on "Team B", and Lars Eller, Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen are on "Team C". The third squad also has David Desharnais, Ryan White and Mathieu Darche, along with other Habs hopefuls, allowing Martin to experiment with third and fourth line possibilities.

Canadiens.com feature on Alexander Avtsin

Chris Nilan gets a new gig, joining Mitch Melnick on the Team990 at 5:30 weekdays (co-hosting Habs This Week on Saturday), and backs a worthy cause.

The future of fighting in hockey: A roundtable discussion on Hockey Central. Hall of Famer Denis Potvin suggests a 17-man roster and Nick Kypreos notes the mistake made by putting a mic on Georges Laraque during his staged fight.

Media's first hockey insider? Nice find by fellow hockey history buff Mike Wyman on Punch Imlach taking on a ghost writer and writing a weekly hockey column after getting turfed from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jimmy Bonneau interview

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