Hamilton Bulldogs set to open 2010-11 season

With the Montreal Canadiens already three games into their season, their AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs get things under way with their fifteenth season Friday night.

The team will be looking to repeat last season’s performance that saw them take the regular season title in the Western Conference, before bowing out in a seven-game conference final in the Calder Cup playoffs.

The Bulldogs will open on the road against the Rochester Americans, before their Saturday home opener against the Toronto Marlies.

There will be a strong contingent of returning players this season, many of whom will be heading into their third season with the team. Fifteen players on the opening roster spent time in Hamilton last season.

Alex Henry, will retain the C again this year with the alternate captians being rotated between David Desharnais and Ryan White (home games), and Mathieu Carle and Ben Maxwell (road games).

The Bulldogs have also signed goaltender Peter Delmas and defenceman Sebastien Bisaillon. Both were tryout invitees at the Canadiens and Bulldogs camps, and the duo must have impressed Habs and Dogs’ GM Pierre Gautier.

Ryan Russell has been taken off injured reserve and will be in Friday's game.

While the core of the roster remains, there are several players who have moved on. P.K. Subban and Tom Pyatt are two of the notables that have moved from from Hamilton to Montreal, with Pyatt splitting most of last season with the big club.

Also gone is goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, who was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the rights to Karri Ramo.

The biggest change for the Bulldogs, came on the bench. After winning Coach of the Year in his first AHL season, Guy Boucher signed on with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and took his assistants with him. Canadiens fans got a taste of Boucher’s abilities firsthand this week when the Lightning spoiled the Habs home opener.

The Bulldogs new bench boss is Randy Cunneyworth, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant with the Atlanta Thrashers. The AHL is no strange dog to Cunneyworth, who spent nine seasons in the Americans’ organization (seven as head coach).

"I think I can honestly say that we like what we see," Cunneyworth said in an interview with the Hamilton Spectator. "We have a good, diverse group that has a good mix of skill, speed and strength.

"I think we can compete but that’s not going to come without hard work and this looks like a group that is willing to do a lot of that and that’s a great basis."

His assistant, Randy Ladoceur, has over a decade years experience as an assistant in the NHL, and should compliment his namesake well.

Bulldogs on the NHL Network: Bulldogs fans will be able to catch them in action via CBC and the NHL Network this season. The NHL Network’s schedule features four Bulldogs games.

If that’s not enough, you can subscribe to AHL Live and catch all the action. A subscription to this service is required.

Fans can always catch the Dogs’ on the airwaves at 820Cham and follow them on Twitter (via play-by-play man Derek Willis) or visit their Facebook page.

2010-11 Hamilton Bulldogs Roster (as per AHL.com October 14)

Forwards: J.T. Wyman, Andrew Conboy, Olivier Fortier, Dany Masse, Ben Maxwell, Andreas Engqvist, Max Pacioretty, Ian Schultz, Ryan White, Alexander Avtsin, Aaron Palushaj, Gabriel Dumont, Jimmy Bonneau, David Desharnais

Defense: Brendon Nash, Alex Henry, Yannick Weber, Kyle Klubertanz, David Urquhart, Sebastien Bisaillon, Frederic St. Denis, Mathieu Carle, Neil Petruic

Goaltenders: Curtis Sanford, Robert Mayer, Peter Delmas

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