“It is not a duty, it is a privilege. This is what Gaston Gingras responds when asked why he continues to contribute to the success of the next generation. This privilege has been renewed for several years as he passes on his knowledge to young hockey players.
Posted at 8:00
The former number 29 was the last to come off the ice after the first half of Scotiabank Women’s Hockey Day. More than 300 players between the ages of 7 and 16 had the chance to perfect their game on the Bell Center skating rink. last Saturday.
Just before going to eat, Gingras congratulated each of the girls in the last group of the morning. He also helped the arena employees move the nets for the Zamboni driver to do his job.
After more than three hours on the frozen surface, the former defender sat down in the first available locker room, took off his helmet and gloves and chatted.
I am 63 years old, if I had enough I would not be here anymore. My wife always asks me why I’m not retired. It’s because I like it and it keeps me young!
Without such a busy schedule, Gingras could have spent the rest of the day on this bench, in this locker room studded with pink ribbon sticks, skates still on his feet, discussing his two greatest passions: hockey and Canadian Montreal football. .
For decades, he has been involved with the next generation. He participates in club activities. He organizes practical courses. He takes part in the Old Canadians tour. For Gingras, giving back is second nature.
During his post-career, he was able to help a lot of young people progress. He has seen players who are in the National Hockey League today or players who have won Olympic gold grow in front of him.
Who knows if one of the 300 players present at the Bell Center will not become the future Marie-Philip Poulin? In her own way, Gingras hopes to contribute to the development and growth of women’s hockey. There is no doubt, in his opinion, that having access to willing, sincere and talented model players like Mélodie Daoust, for example, can only inspire the young players here.
It’s like us when we looked at National League players. I hope they will have their professional league then [le hockey féminin] takes on even more importance.
A long tradition
The hockey world has been saddened in recent days by learning of Guy Lafleur’s death. The shock was even more brutal for the Canadian’s former players who joined him.
Gingras was his teammate for three seasons. While this is a huge loss from which it will be difficult to recover, Lafleur will have managed to sensitize an entire generation of hockey players to the importance of giving back. Be it time or advice.
“In the bus, the youngest, we listened. He had so many stories and knowledge, “he told him after observing a moment of silence and taking a deep breath before starting to speak.
I myself am aware of the effect of being a former Canadiens player. So I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a legend who has always been aware of it.
Events such as the Women’s Hockey Festival have always had great value in the eyes of the Blonde Demon. Taking part in this kind of day is now part of the DNA of the Old Canadians. A tradition that has been established by the greatest, such as Lafleur. This generation has never taken the privilege it enjoyed for granted.
Alumni still live and get involved in the community and indirectly, we are all ambassadors of the club. We are Canadian for life. ”
Hockey changes your life
Several headliners were invited as part of the event to accompany players throughout the day.
Mélodie Daoust, Sarah Lefort and Rebecca Leslie of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) addressed the girls and their parents during a lunchtime panel in the stands of the Bell Center.
Daoust, a three-time Olympic medalist, reminded hockey players how lucky they were to be able to attend such an event.
I started playing at 5 and up to 16 there were only three girls in my league. I am proud to participate in events like this with more than 300 players.
Daoust said hockey was a godsend for her. On the one hand, because hockey allowed him to get a good education, go to university and finish his studies. On the other hand, because it was in her hockey that she made her best friends with her.
She is looking forward to a professional league seeing the light of day so that the next generations of hockey players can live adequately from their passion and be rewarded for their talent.
Between the workouts, there were as many smiles as there were participants. Each player seemed fascinated and a little intimidated by the sheer size of the Bell Center.
The fact remains that this day was special for each of them and that they will keep an unforgettable memory.
For example, the young Olivia was almost speechless for being able to walk on the same ice as the Canadiens players: “What I liked most was being on the ice and playing on the ice. It is quite impressive. ”
For Léa, training alongside Mélodie Daoust also inspires her to become a hockey champion: “It’s my biggest dream, but I have many others! ”