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Saturday, October 21, 2006
Theodore returns to Montreal for first time since trade

Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Jose Theodore is anxious to see how the Bell Centre crowd reacts Saturday night when he takes the ice as a visiting player.

The Montreal native once ruled the building, with sellout crowds chanting his name after big saves, until he struggled last season and was eventually dealt to Colorado at the March trade deadline for David Aebischer.

Aebischer will be in goal for the Canadiens.

"It's obviously something special," Theodore said Friday before practice. "I don't know what to expect."

Theodore played himself out of the starting job in Montreal last season after signing a three-year, $16-million deal.

The strong play of French goalie Cristobal Huet made him expendable and general manager Bob Gainey was widely applauded when he unloaded Theodore's contract for Aebischer, who earns $1.9 million.

"It's my first time back. It should be a great experience and a fun experience. I approach it like I want to play well and win, but it's not about proving that anyone made a mistake. It's just about me coming back and playing in my home town again."

It helps that the Avalanche won the first two games on a three-game swing through Eastern Canada -- 4-1 in Toronto and 2-1 in Ottawa -- and that Theodore had what he called his best game this season with 26 saves Wednesday against the Senators.

Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said there was no question of keeping Theodore safe on the bench and starting backup Peter Budaj.

"It was an easy decision," he said. "He's your No. 1 guy and you want him there in important games."