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STU COWAN: Dale Weise brings 'physicality, jam' to Habs' roster battle

 Montreal Canadiens’ Dale Weise follows a loose puck during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 26, 2016.
Montreal Canadiens’ Dale Weise follows a loose puck during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 26, 2016.

The Weise household is a hectic place these days.

Dale Weise and his wife, Lauren, have four children and the oldest is son Hunter, who is 6. Daughter Jordana is 4 and twins Jersey Taylor, a girl, and Hayes Randall, a boy, are almost 5 months old.

That probably makes Lauren the MVP of the household.

“Definitely, she is,” Weise said with a smile after the Canadiens held a morning skate Monday in Brossard. “Big time because it’s pure chaos. It’s crazy. We’ve got four now, so it’s a lot.”

While Lauren is handling things at their Montreal home, her husband isn’t looking to be the MVP of the Canadiens — just trying earn a spot on the team — and he was in the lineup for the pre-season opener Monday night against the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre. Marc Bergevin brought Weise back to Montreal — where he played for three seasons — last February when the Canadiens GM acquired the 31-year-old forward from the Philadelphia Flyers, along with defenceman Christian Folin, in exchange for forward Byron Froese and defenceman David Schlemko.

Weise was unable to earn a regular spot with the Canadiens last season, held pointless in nine games and not playing in any of the last 13. Weise scored two goals in the three games he played with the AHL’s Laval Rocket. This is the final season of his four-year, US$9.4-million contract with a $2.35 million salary-cap hit.

“I’m pumped,” Weise said about being back in Montreal. “I had the time of my life here last time. I love playing here. You’ve got the greatest fans in the world and this is the best organization in hockey, so you’ve got to be happy about that.”

Bergevin traded Weise to the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 26, 2016, along with Tomas Fleischmann, and got a great return in centre Phillip Danault and a second-round pick at the 2018 NHL Draft that was used to select Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov, who could be with the Canadiens next season after his KHL contract expires. That summer, Weise signed his current contract with the Philadelphia Flyers as a free agent.

Weise said what he missed most about Montreal was the fans.

“They make you want to play, they make you want to play hard,” he said. “You walk around, people are so positive about the team and they’re such big fans. You kind of miss that. You go to other places, there’s a lot of negativity and advice that gets thrown your way. I think the fans here are just so happy when they run into a player.”

Weise is battling for a spot on the fourth line and Monday night he was at right wing with fellow veterans Nate Thompson at centre and Nick Cousins on the left. Head coach Claude Julien loves veterans and there’s a chance that could be on the fourth line when the regular season starts, depending on how prospects Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki perform during the exhibition season.

“To be honest with you, I don’t really care about anybody else,” Weise said. “You just kind of worry about yourself. Maybe when I was younger and I was trying to make a team, I was sitting there and you’re like analyzing everything. I don’t really do that anymore. I just go out and do what I do, and that’s all you can do. You save a lot of stress and anxiety that way. Just go about your job, do what you can do and you’ll be a lot happier and better in the long run.

“I think when you’re a little bit younger and you’re fighting for a spot, every single day is so tense and you’re so nervous and it’s really, really hard to show your best,” he added. “For me, obviously, I have experience, I’ve been in the league a long time. I feel good about my game and every time I get a chance to play, just show what you do. I don’t think it’s a surprise what I bring to our team and I think it’s a valued asset for this team.”

Does Weise feel he has something to prove?

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I’ve been asked that question a lot … I think it’s kind of funny. I think people forgot that I was here at the end of last year. I don’t think I’ve got anything to prove. I’m my hardest critic … so I don’t think anyone judges myself harder than I do. I’m real happy with where my game’s at. I feel fast out there, I feel great. I’m excited to just keep playing games and show what I bring, which I think is some physicality and a little bit of jam, and someone (who is) just hard to play against. We’ve got a lot of fast guys, we’ve got a lot of small guys. I think I bring something that we don’t have here.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

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