La Tournee des Joueurs, a traveling caravan of 20 Quebecois players affected by the NHL lockout, made its inaugural stop in Chateauguay on Sept. 27. The Montreal team, dressed in matching red sweaters, beat the white-clad Quebec team 7-4.
Max Talbot and Bruno Gervais thought up the idea for the tournament as well as playing all the games for charity. Talbot had two goals for Montreal in the victory, as did Jason Pominville. Montreal goalie Corey Crawford, playing in his hometown in front of his dad and brother, backstopped the red team to the win.
Andrei Markov, Mathieu Darche, Brian Gionta and Guillaume Latendresse also scored for Montreal. On the Quebec side, Lars Eller, Benoit Pouliot, Simon Gagne and Steve Bernier scored. Patrice Bergeron got two assists for the white team.
“This town, they don’t really get a chance to see players like this live, especially coming to their hometown rink, my hometown rink. It’s unbelievable for them. I think the kids really enjoyed it and it’s a great experience for everyone,” Crawford told ESPN after the game.
Tickets to the game cost just $20 and more than 1,000 fans packed the Complex Multisport de Chateauguay to standing room only capacity. Some fans showed up to the arena 10 hours early to make sure they could get tickets. One 14-year-old fan was able to see Eller, her favorite player, from glass-side seats that would normally cost a fortune at the Bell Centre.
Players reported hearing fans shout “thank you” from the seats and fans were able to get up close and personal with players once the game ended. Talbot said that the idea behind La Tournee des Joueurs was to provide fans with at least some hockey to tide them over while the big league is locked out.
All of the proceeds from the game will go to charity.
La Tournee des Joueurs will now head to Saint-Hyacinthe and Sherbrooke for games on Oct. 4 and 5.