Saturday, 1:45 pm Planes pass overhead every two minutes. An indisputable sign that we are really in Saint-Laurent. Raymond Bourque is followed and surrounded by a crowd of young and old. The former Bruins and Avalanche sits across from the representative of The print. Under an awning, in the shade, to give him a respite.
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We begin the discussion about the reason for his visit to Montreal this first weekend in September, when he resides in Boston with his family.
The arena bearing his name on the outskirts of the Marcel-Laurin Park has announced its reopening. Two and a half years after the start of the project. The place is completely renovated, energy efficient and ready to welcome its community to make it move.
“Bring back the memories,” says Raymond Bourque immediately. My whole childhood was spent here. It is funny. “
The 61-year-old man, with graying hair and beard, talks to us as he signs his autograph on the sweaters that are given to him by people crowded around. Then he gestures to them to wait a few minutes, the time to devote all his attention to this reporter. To answer his question about where his journey as a hockey player began, in particular.
“My father lived across the street for several years,” notes Bourque, pointing to Boulevard Thimens. Saint Lawrence. This is where it happened. This is where I was helped to live the career I have lived. ”
A few minutes earlier, the legendary Quebec defender had given a speech inside the arena, on the ice. He was accompanied in particular by Danièle Sauvageau and Kim St-Pierre, the two ambassadors of the project, the mayor of the district, Alan DeSousa, as well as the liberal parliamentarian Marwah Rizqy. Everyone had mentioned the importance of the institution for the community, for young people, for keeping its population active.
Sauvageau does not reside in Saint-Laurent. But he worked for the Montreal City Police Service for 33 years. Especially in the hamlet where the Raymond-Bourque arena is located.
The memory of his career as a police officer is not accidental. A structure like this is “a meeting place for young people”.
I said jokingly before: if we don’t employ our young people, they will take over the police services.
She is interrupted by a little boy, who asks her who the tall gentleman is surrounded by people there. She explains that he is a legendary NHL defender. She then encourages him to go and ask for an autograph. Before telling us an anecdote.
“During one of my first patrol calls in another district, I was told, ‘There are young people walking around the arena,'” says the woman who notably led Canada to the Olympic gold medal at the Games. of Salt Lake City in 2002.
“I say, ‘What are they doing? She said, “They have no business there.” I say: “I like having them there as much as having them on the street. I can’t even believe you’re calling the police about this. ”
Sauvageau “grew up in arenas”.
“It is an environment in which the community can come together. Young people, it is through sport, physical activity, through the fact that they develop all the skills they will need once they arrive in the workplace. ”
” It’s not the same ”
Raymond Bourque played 23 years in the NHL. He included 21 seasons with the Bruins. Before finally deciding to go and try one last time to win the Stanley Cup. What he did with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. He raised the precious trophy in his latest professional outing.
This player-team loyalty is rare these days. Witness the summer of the Calgary Flames, who had to trade Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk in quick succession.
“It’s not the same anymore, Bourque agrees. They allow players to do that. You become a free agent after six years. We signed a contract and we couldn’t go anywhere. We had no rights. They have so many today. ”
But he assures that he has “nothing against this”.
However, there is one who has decided to honor the trust of his team by continuing – and probably to conclude – his career: Patrice Bergeron, who signed a one-year pact with the Bruins this summer. The club that enlisted him in 2003.
“Patrice said it: if he had to play another year, he would have been in Boston. He is a great hockey player. But above all he is a great man. ”
“By the time she hangs up her skates, her sweater will be next to mine on the Garden bleachers. ”