At the start of the 2003-2004 season, I was about to start a new chapter in my Sabers career. I arrived from Calgary and joined Buffalo with my friend Jean-Pierre Dumont. Couldn’t wait, we were a good group of players and loved the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, I was hit in the shoulder during the training camp. The swords gave me concessions. “It’s just a formality, Steve,” General Manager Darcy Regier told me. “You’re not leaving Buffalo. We want you with us!”
Yes, what has happened has happened. A team called me … but not least: Al-Kindy!
As a kid, I was a Montreal fanatic in the NHL. As I got older, during my junior training with Forurs and early in my career, I was always hesitant to imagine myself wearing a tricolor shirt. I saw him from afar and had the impression that this team didn’t always give its young players a chance. Many were stuck in the palace, and it was not easy to be in this organization. We seem to have heard only criticism, and only negative.
During the show games with the Sabers in 2003, we went to Bell Center to meet the Canadians. This was the time amateurs Patrice Presbyoa booed him night after night. He even caused a public outing for the then General Manager, Bob Jenny! In Buffalo, we knew everything that was going on in the Montreal Market. We were several Quebec with the sword. We were listening to the show 110% ; The committee members weren’t kind to the CH players. We laughed at it from afar … pity them a little!
You will understand that I laughed a little, on that famous evening in October when Montreal invited me for exemptions. I learned about it during the team dinner at Jean-Pierre. It was a shock! In 2003, twenty players from across the league found themselves compromising. I was part of the lottery.
That evening on 110%We were already paying attention. I haven’t reached the city yet!
“Who is Steve Beijing?” It will not improve the team, it will only make it worse! “That’s it, we already had an opinion of me and my game! Brawler Darren Langdon, who was claimed by Bob Jayne the same day, also went to Cash. Tone set …
Montreal isn’t that bad after all …
I arrived in Montreal and fortunately everything was going well. The fans appreciate my passion and the team is successful after missing out on the qualifiers the previous year.
In the end, playing for the Canadian isn’t that bad! Not kidding, I was happy. From the start, it was a huge challenge, but I was well received by everyone. When you win, it’s always easier.
In the spring of 2004, many experts surprised us and we entered the playoffs in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, against the Boston Bruins who finished second. We are the most vulnerable in this confrontation.
In the third match, she suffered an ankle injury and missed the fourth match two days later. We lose in overtime, Bruins takes the 3-1 lead. We are one step away from being eliminated by our biggest competitors.
I was ready to go back for match # 5, but coach Claude Julian, after seeing that I was struggling to skate during the warm-up session, decided to hit me off the list. “That’s right, Claude,” I replied, resigning. I was in great distress! Today, I understand his decision. I had a hard time moving forward. I was lamer! On the other hand, in the midst of this moment, I got a bad rap on this other evening I spent at the press show.
Comfort: That night, we avoided eliminations in Boston to cause a sixth match, the following Saturday night in Montreal. This time, I have no doubt fully recovered from the sprain, and I’ll be able to get back to training! There are interviews that are more meaningful than others in the profession. One of those given to Raynoud Lavoye before the sixth meeting on RDS. People are still talking to me about it!
“Look at me going tonight, I’ll eat the tapes,” I simply gave.
I was speaking metaphorically, obviously. Basically, I said I was tired of eating chairs at the press fair. How much did you prefer to eat strips! I was going to make him suffer from indigestion …
In the tape, face first
The midfielder of the second half, we lead 3-1. The party is in the stands! I’m jumping on the ice. In front of me is young Patrice Bergeron, barely 18 years old. The rookie I respect, he plays hockey big for his age.
I’m trying to defeat him. I arrive at full speed, because I’m always parsing my songs. Some people stop skating within 5 or 6 feet of the player. not me. Bergeron advances. I was surprised: his body is at the height of the hips. Folded in half, I find myself face down at the bar, where the bay window begins.
The game stops. At that time, I was not hurt. In fact, I’m sure it was my left shoulder that shocked me. Oh no, not my shoulder yet! I missed matches because of my shoulder. Does the scenario repeat itself?
No, not my shoulder. I see blood on the ground. Next to me, my teammate Patrice Brisbane picks up two of my teeth! I am a little confused. Of course I had a concussion. The wizard arrived, threw me a towel. I spit blood!
“Let me, I’m fine!” They brought me to the locker room. Around me are dentist (Jean-Francois Desjardins), therapist (Graham Rinbend), and doctor (David Mulder) gathered. My gums are cracked, my four front teeth are also cracked. I lost two of them, while the others were tucked in. These two tore my lips and jaws apart. I had stitches on my chin and in my mouth. Guys tell me I can’t go back and play. For them, my evening is over. The reason is heard.
“No, I’m on the plane! Put me a net. And guess what I won!”
They were afraid the Bruins would aim my face. For my part, I only thought of returning to the ice. We were sticking to lead 3-2, I wanted to help the team draw 3-3 in the series.
I made my debut midway through the third half, and the fans chanted my name. With this encouragement, I don’t waste time and hit Sergey Samsonov, who puts on a good game for Bruins.
I hear the crowd screams. Fabulous! What a beautiful moment! This isn’t the first time my name has been called in the 2003-04 season, and it won’t be the last in my five years with the Canadians. But this time is without a doubt the most memorable time.
I often talk about this game on April 17th, 2004. Everyone seems to either be discouraged in front of their TV set or at the Bell Center! On the bench, my teammates stared. They did not believe it. Incidentally, Darren Langdon, the unloved other from previous fall to 110%, He scored a goal in the first half!
The next afternoon, before we left for Boston to participate in the final game, we laughed really well, because I was pulling out a blender to eat my chicken and pasta! It was impossible for me to bite down and shred the food. The scene was funny, but I had a lot of difficulty in the early days. On top of that, as soon as my mouth melted, I felt a sharp pain.
I told reporters that I would take tapes to play in the qualifiers. There it made him indigestion!
The price to be paid
The day before, after we won, I went back to the dentist to have my teeth fixed … or what’s left of them. My great friend David Thibault, the gunmate who followed me on a mini hockey game at Troyes-Riviere, raised his hand to help the dentist, who was then deprived of his assistant on Saturday night.
“I play hockey, I’m not afraid of that, blood,” he replied. Upon seeing my lips, David felt a little uncomfortable. It split from one edge to the other. He almost lost consciousness!
The dentist, he was hoping he’d hold up. I would see him every week until my wedding in early July.
Meanwhile, we have eliminated the Bruins in Boston! Our victory in the first round, after falling 1-3 in the series, surprised many people and caused a wave of joy among Quebec hockey fans.
You finished the series completely messed up! We were sadly swept in the second round by Tampa Bay Lightning, a team on their way to their first Stanley Cup.
Not Bergeron’s fault
I never believed, even in the heat of this moment, that Patrice Bergeron had voluntarily bent over to avoid screening. He really faltered. We talked about it again, we even played it together, later in Boston. He is a good person. That evening got angry and paid the price!
Guys, if you are looking for a supermodel, Patrice Bergeron, this is the ultimate model. Whether on snow or outside!
After the shutdown, I played for over three more years in Montreal, before trading with the Dallas Stars in February 2009. I would have preferred to remain a Canadian until the end of my career, for everyone. My life, but it’s part of the hockey business. And no one can take from me the beautiful moments I had with this jacket on my back!
April 17, 2004 is definitely one of those moments.
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