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Theodore returns to Montreal for first time since trade

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."