MONTREAL, QC — Today, children and members of the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace borough were all smiles as they stepped onto the latest community rink brought to them by the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation. The inauguration of this rink at Confederation Park in NDG is the fifth of its kind as part of the BLEU BLANC BOUGE program which first launched in September 2008. The program helps underprivileged kids and gives them a chance to be part of the sport this city loves: hockey.
Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson, General Manager Marc Bergevin, FTQ Secretary General Daniel Boyer, NDG Mayor Lionel Perez, and Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum were all in attendance and spoke about the importance of this initiative. Mayor Boyer explained how he grew up in Verdun, a district similar to NDG where people weren’t fortunate enough to experience things like this. “I hope this isn’t the last rink we help build for a community,” Boyer admits.
Mr. Perez, Mayor of Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace was elated when he stepped towards the mic. “Montrealers are the most devoted hockey fans,” he said. “This rink will be used 12 months a year and it will have an impact on a generation of children.”
Owner Geoff Molson explained that the Montreal Canadiens will continue with the BLEU BLANC ROUGE program for a “better future and to help promote a healthy lifestyle among children.”
The rink will be open until the end of March everyday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. for all hockey and skating. During the warmer months, the ice will disappear and children will be able to play basketball, ball hockey and other physical activities.
As the children stepped onto the ice with present and former Montreal Canadiens players, the atmosphere at the event escalated. Children were smiling ear to ear whether they were getting caught in their skates or holding onto Youppi. A crowd of avid hockey fans surrounded newcomer Brendan Gallagher, praising him and asking for photos and autographs. Josh Gorges, Lars Eller, Travis Moen, Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon all participated in the event. As did former NHL player Sergio Momesso who grew up in NDG. This inauguration hit home for the former Hab.
Whoever said hockey was a boy’s game was wrong. The girls were just as excited to be skating alongside the Habs. Carly and Abiraami, 6th grade students from Royal Vale were impressed with the project. “It’s really cool and impressive,” said Abiraami.
Carly was as excited and explained that now there will be a little competition. “There’s another rink down the street, so now they have some competition,” she joked. “We can come here after school and skate,” she said.
NDG city councilman Mr. McQueen said, “It’s important to get the girls out and this is what this type of rink will do.” “When you see a rink filled with boys, the chances of getting girls on the ice is slim…but the rink will be available for skating, hockey and other activities so it’s good for the kids.”
What do some of your favorite Montreal Canadiens think?
“This rink gives kids the opportunity to play the game that is Canada,” Gorges said. “If I had a rink like this when I was growing up I would have been on it everyday. It’s important that the Habs be a part of this. It’s a great thing,” he explained.
When asked about his new roommate, Gorges only had good things to say about super kid Brendan Gallagher. “He’s a good kid and he works hard,” Gorges admitted.
As for Gally (one of the two), he thinks this rink will “give kids the opportunity to enjoy everyday you’re at the rink. I had a big pond in my backyard back home in Edmonton,” he revealed. He shared his feelings about how fun it was for him to have that and being able to skate whenever he wanted. When it comes to playing the big bad Bruins tomorrow night, he says he’s excited to be a part of it. Who wouldn’t be?
Finally, Lars Eller reminisced about his childhood in Denmark! “We used to have a rink like this back home. I know how awesome it is to have something like this.” “I think it’s important we are part of this,” he said. “It’s part of our responsbility as a team to give back to the community and being part of an organization like the Montreal Canadiens, we help bring attention to causes like this.”
As for tomorrow’s rivalry? “Habs and Boston is always a good game,” Eller said. “We’re both fighting for the number one spot in the conference. We feel really good right now.” I bet ya do!
Right now there aren’t any other community rinks scheduled to be created, but Mayor Applebaum promised to launch similar projects in other parts of Montreal.
Category: Fan Focus