Remembering Nos Glorieux – A Boy and His Heroes

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Written by Effie, AllHabs

MONTREAL, QC — February 1999. James won tickets to skate at the Molson Centre as a member of the Montreal Canadiens Fan Club.

There were no players, just him and a group of other people who had the opportunity to skate on hallowed ice.

Following the skate, they were invited to attend a press conference, at which Réjean Houle announced that there were no plans to trade anyone from the team, especially Mark Recchi.

He was happy that his hero was safe.

Then it happened.

On March 10, 1999, Mark Recchi was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Philadelphia Flyers for Danius Zubrus and a couple of draft picks.

James was eight years old and he was devastated.

But what’s a little boy to do?

He wrote a letter.

March 10, 1999

Dear Mr. Réjean Houle,

I was very very upset with the horrible news of Recchi’s trade. I know I was not the only one upset by the devastating trade.
My name is James. I am 8 years old and Mark Recchi is my hero!
I’m also fond of Stephane Quintal, please don’t trade him too!
Why did you trade your most valuable player? He was definitely worth $6 million a season.
This was a big mistake.
Please bring him back and trade Damphousse instead.
I have an 8×10 lamination in my kitchen of Mark and myself and I treasure it.
This is a very very sad day for me.

Sincerely

James

 

This letter was an outpouring of emotion from an 8-year-old boy who had just lost his hero.

The days passed excruciatingly slowly.

Days. A week. And more.

The backpack he carried to school weighing heavy on his shoulders like the weight in his heart as he trudged along wondering why this happened. Why did his hero have to leave?

Then Réjean Houle replied. Yes. He took the time to write a letter to an eight-year-old to explain the reason for the trade. A class act in my books.

March 17, 1999

Dear James:

Thank you for your short note which I received on March 15th.

I can appreciate how upset you are that your favourite player was traded to another team but in the hockey business situations change from day to day and everyone involved with the tram must accept these events. Time reflects a different light on many things and despite some unfavourable criticism I am confident that it will all come out right in the end.

Please accept the enclosed picture postcard as a keepsake of the time your hero spent with the Montreal Canadiens.

Sincerely,

Réjean Houle

 

 

Thing is, the Canadiens forgot to enclose the picture.

When James’ mom called the offices of the Montreal Canadiens, the woman with whom she spoke said, “Oh, that letter.” Apparently, it had been read by everyone in the office.

His letter touched their hearts, but unfortunately it couldn’t bring Recchi back.

Fast forward to the year 2000.

On Sunday, January 2, 2000, James’ atom hockey team won a bid to play during the intermission of the Montreal Canadiens – New York Rangers game. It was the first game of the millenium at the Molson Centre. His team was split up. Half the players wore Canadiens jerseys and the other half wore Rangers jerseys.

James was given a Habs jersey with his name on it and number 27. Shane Corson’s number.

As the anthems were sung, James stood next to Corson.

Time for the opening face off. Corson was acting captain, as Saku Koivu was out with a dislocated shoulder. Guy Lafleur dropped the puck with Rod Gilbert representing the Rangers .

It was at that time, the announcement was heard. James was being called to take the face-off with Shane Corson! Wearing the number 27 brought him luck!

Two pucks were dropped, the face-off done and everyone skated back to the bench. As James was ready to get off the ice, Lafleur told him to stay on the ice and skate with the team.

He wasn’t about to say no.

The referees had to tell James to get off the ice so that the game could start!

The Habs didn’t lose their first game of the millenium.  It ended in a tie. 2-2 in overtime.

James still has the puck from that night, his number 27 jersey and a memory of a night he will never forget.

 

James never stopped loving the Montreal Canadiens, and his heart continues to bleed bleu blanc rouge.

Childhood memories of our CH wearing heroes never fade. They live on in our hearts forever.

James is studying psychology at Dawson College and is currently a writer for All Habs Hockey Magazine. His focus is on prospects. You can follow him on Twitter @J_Habs

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