A homecoming for Raymond Bourque

Legendary defender Raymond Bourque visited the arena that now bears his name as part of its reopening after nearly three years of work.

Several amateurs had moved on Saturday for the reopening party organized by the Borough. Olympic champions Kim St-Pierre and Danièle Sauvageau were also on hand, in addition to elected municipal officials and Raymond Bourque himself.

The latter, being a native of Saint-Laurent, retains a strong sense of belonging to his hometown. It was therefore out of the question for him to miss such an event.

“It’s where I was born, it’s where I played hockey, played ball, went to school, met my wife and all my friends,” he said. For me, this is where it all happened. I will never forget where I come from.”

This is where Mr. Bourque made his organized hockey debut while playing with the Saint-Laurent Jets in the Atom age category. He hopes that other young people will in turn be able to take advantage of the facilities to have access to the sport.

“Sport is important and you don’t have to play the national league or the Olympics to take advantage of it,” he continues. It gives the opportunity to learn great things like work ethic and preparation. [Les jeunes] have a great place here to do so.”

Major works

Renovations worth more than $28 million have allowed the establishment, built in to update itself on several levels, whether on the ice with the installation of new slabs, or off it with the development of a new entrance, new bleachers and the arrival of new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

During the work, the Saint-Laurent sports associations had to practice their sport in other places in Montreal. The parents met by Subway during the reopening party were happy to return to their local arena.

“It hasn’t been easy for the past two years, but it was necessary,” said George Dracopoulos, whose son has been playing hockey for two years. I played here when I was young, now it’s my son’s turn and I’m glad he has access to the new facilities.”

For his part, Joseph Hayatian, who is also the father of a young hockey player, will now be within walking distance of the arena. “We were really looking forward to it opening, but already we were happy just to be able to play despite the pandemic and all that, he said. The reopening is just a bonus.

Raymond Bourque said he was impressed by the new facilities. “To see her [rénové] beautiful like that, it’s incredible, says the member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. I don’t think there are many places that were built in 1967 that are as beautiful as the one we have here.”

He hopes to be back in Saint-Laurent soon at an event with his foundation. “We are exploring whether to hold an event here in Saint-Laurent at the arena or at the athletics track to give back to the community,” he continues.

Until then, the activities of the Saint-Laurent sports associations will resume at the Raymond-Bourque arena. Free skating sessions are also offered. Time slots are available on the Ville de Montréal website.

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