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Dandenault uncertain about future in Montreal after being scratched from game

MONTREAL - Mathieu Dandenault isn't demanding a trade but the Canadiens veteran will reflect upon his future in Montreal after being told he would sit out a game.

The versatile 31-year-old, who can play forward and defence, was not happy to be left out of the lineup for the Canadiens game Tuesday night against the Boston Bruins. It was the second time this season Dandenault has been a healthy scratch. Both times, he has taken it hard.

He said he would discuss with his family and his agent, Mike Gillis, where his hockey future lies.

"I'm not saying I want out, I'm just saying I don't want to be sat out," he said. "The next guy the next game is probably going to say the same thing.

"No one wants to sit out. You want to feel you're contributing to the team and, if your value is that you sit out every game, what's the point? But I'm not requesting a trade or anything like that. All I'm saying is that I'm sitting out and obviously I want it to be for the last time of the year, and we'll go from there."

Reacting to a listless 2-0 loss at home on Saturday to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were without injured star Sidney Crosby, coach Guy Carbonneau brought winger Steve Begin back to the lineup against Boston to replace Dandenault on a checking line.

Carbonneau said it was nothing personal.

"It's unfortunate and it's not because he played really bad, but obviously he didn't play really good," Carbonneau said of Dandenault. "That's the message I'm sending to the bottom six guys (forwards) in the lineup and some of the defence.

"We're going to have three (extra) healthy players in a week, so three guys will have to sit."

Carbonneau likes to keep the same lineup after a win, so a player banished to the press box can sometimes sit out a few games in a row.

Dandenault clearly would not accept that.

The Sherbrooke, Que., native signed a four-year contract as an unrestricted free agent in 2005 after nine seasons in Detroit in which he was part of three Stanley Cup-champion teams. He is signed through next season at US$1.75 million per year.

Dandenault takes being scratched as a blow to his pride, much as defenceman Craig Rivet did last season when he sat out a game. Rivet, an alternate captain who had spent his first 11 seasons in Montreal, was traded later in the season to San Jose.

"It's tough at my age," Dandenault said. "I'm not old, I'm not at the end of my career.

"It's a tough situation right now, but other hockey players have gone through it. You've just got to work hard and stay positive and good things are going to happen. I'll rise back up again. I'm confident. I know I can help a team out. I've done it in the past. I've been on some championship teams. So, eventually, things will go my way."

Dandenault has six goals and five assists playing almost exclusively at forward on checking lines this season. He is also a team-worst minus-10 for the season.

He was also scratched from a home game Jan. 8 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

He vowed not to let his discontent become a distraction to the team, as the brooding Sergei Samsonov was a year ago after he was scratched for several games before being traded to Chicago.

"You don't want to be a nuisance to the team," he said. "When I played, other guys sat out and it was tough on them.

"You can't bring it in the room. So I'll be the same. It's not their job to deal with me sitting out. It's my job to stay in the lineup."

Begin was to return after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury. He was ready to come back two weeks ago, but the Canadiens were winning and Carbonneau wanted to keep his lineup intact.

Now the only injured players are defencemen Patrice Brisebois and Ryan O'Byrne. Mark Streit has moved back to defence from left wing to fill in on the blue-line.

Brisebois got bad news this week when an MRI showed two fractures in his left foot from blocking a shot against the New York Rangers on Jan. 12.

He is expected to be out for another week, but will continue skating and said he's ready to play in pain at any time.

"It's disappointing, but I have to keep skating - I don't want to get out of shape," he said. "I have to live with it.

"Now nobody is going to question my tolerance level. I only missed one day since it happened, and I'll keep working."

The rookie O'Byrne broke a thumb in a fight Dec. 28 and is expected to be out another two or three weeks.


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