By Josie Lemieux – Consultant – @HockeyPsyched – Mental toughness – Emotional control
It is a fact that all NHL players must be involved, one way or another, into community and charity events during the summer. It was the case on August 9, in Quebec City, during the Gagné-Bergeron Pro-Am event. Simon Gagné, former star of the Philadelphia Flyers, has been joining forces with Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron for 10 years. 22 amateur players donated $ 3,000 to play with current NHL players for a hockey game at the Videotron Center.
I was there to cover the event and had the opportunity to see how Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins and other NHL players react with crowds on a hot, humid summer day.
The list of NHL players who volunteered their time was more than impressive. Marc-André Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault and Malcolm Subban (Knights), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Sharks), Philip Danault and Xavier Ouellet (Canadiens), Jonathan Huberdeau (Panthers) , Mathieu Perreault (Jets) Yanni Gourde (Lightning) Alex Chiasson (Capitals) Antoine Vermette (Ducks) David Savard (Jackets), Radko Gudas (Flyers), Samuel Girard and Mark Barberio (Avalanche). Former Lightning player Vincent Lecavalier was also present.
Patrice Bergeron’s teammate and buddy Brad Marchand, known for his impulsive and aggressive playing style, also joined in, and he received a warm welcome in the city, feeling surprised, in his own words, ¨ of the amount of Bruins fans here. Lots of Bruins cheering here already. I am sure we’ll get a little support ¨.
I greeted Marchand first in the newsroom with a firm handshake. He was relaxed and smiling. I asked what it was like for him to be at his friend’s event. ¨ Oh it’s great to be here. The guys talk about the event and how big it’s going to be. It will be a lot of fun to be a part of it. Being in the room and see the guys out here… You get to spend a little time with them on a different level than competing against each other. We’ll have a little fun, get to know one another and have a good time ¨.
Marchand is also proud ¨ to be a part of one of NHL’s greatest rivalries ¨, the Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens.
When it comes to his reputation in the NHL, Marchand remains faithful to his profile, answering with his best smile: ¨ I get booed a lot because I’m good-looking and people are jealous (reporters laugh). I am happy to be here. Patrice did not have to convince me. I hesitated at first because my sister was getting married and I wanted to avoid a scheduling conflict before I joined “.
Marchand was happily surprised when he received a warm applause on an exterior stage where all players were presented prior to the game. He also took the time to sign jerseys and caps, like all NHL players. Patrice Bergeron and Simon Gagné took the time to speak to the crowd and bring the community together even more.
During the player presentation on the ice, when Marchand’s name was heard, some weak booing could not surpass the cheering crowd. He was once again pleasantly surprised. Amateur players who donated to play were mixed with NHL pros on each team, and shared the bench of the Bruins and the Sharks. It’s an experience they will never forget.
One break between periods consisted of young children playing hockey. Bergeron, 37, and Marchand, 63, got on ice with them. Right after a goal, kids jumped in their arms, all screaming and smiling, surrounded by an electrifying crowd.
Nonetheless, the Pro-Am Gagné-Bergeron happens for the sick and needy children of Quebec. With $ 428,000 raised for five foundations, a great set of caring NHL players, devoted fans and a great arena, the event remains a one-of-a-kind experience. I enjoyed every minute of it.
I think that Patrice Bergeron does what he does best along with his NHL teammates: be grateful for who he is, what he can be and do for others. And return the favor in the most humble and caring way.
Until next year!