MONTREAL - Hockey wasn't on goalkeeper Evan Bush's radar before moving to Montreal.
But shortly after joining the Impact in March 2011, the Concord Township, OH native quickly caught Canadiens fever and has been a loyal supporter ever since.
"I came knowing nothing about hockey, not having any allegiance or anything like that. But when you come into the city, it's impossible not to join the love affair with the game," said Bush, 33, who resides in Montreal year-round with his wife, Colleen, and three young children - Isabella, 6, Canaan, 4, and seven-month-old Brooklyn. "It was something I kind of fell in love with. When I go to games or watch on TV, it's always exciting. It's always intriguing to see the competitive nature of it."
The fact that Bush's arrival essentially coincided with the Habs matching up against the archrival Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs certainly helped in that regard.
Even though the Canadiens came out on the losing end, the seven-game series served as the perfect introduction to the local hockey culture.
"When they made that run, it was kind of my initiation to the city in terms of what it's like when the Habs are doing well and making noise. That was really interesting to me. You can really feel the energy from the crowd and the fans," mentioned Bush, who has been privy to four additional postseason runs over the years. "The city itself is just on fire in the playoffs. You like that feeling."
Admittedly, the eight-year MLS veteran's kids have embraced Canada's national winter sport, too.
Bush is planning on enrolling Isabella in skating lessons soon and signing Canaan up for hockey in the next year.
"All of my kids were born in Montreal, so they're Canadian as well. Maybe it's just in their blood that they like hockey. You're starting to see it. They go to school, and the number one sport for kids to latch onto is hockey. They're at the age where they're playing at lunch time or around the neighborhood. They see kids playing and they're interested," explained Bush. "That'll be interesting and educational for us as parents when they do play. I think hockey will come a little bit more naturally to Canaan because you give him a golf club right now and he already holds it like a hockey stick."
When Bush does have the opportunity to check out Claude Julien's contingent at the Bell Centre, his eyes are typically fixated on goaltender Carey Price.
That shouldn't come as much of a surprise, of course, given their similar job descriptions.
"My favorite part of going to games is when I'm able to sit closer to the ice and being able to watch Carey's eyes, how locked in and how focused he is. Nothing deters him from tracking the puck," said Bush. "That's something I've tried to instill in my game over time. It's certainly encouraging to see a guy at that level, and with that magnitude of success, be able to focus day in and day out in such a grueling sport."
Bush isn't just a fan of Price's playing style. He wholeheartedly appreciates his calm and cool demeanor both on and off the ice as well.
"If you're able to have that type of attitude on the biggest stage when you're playing, it shows how focused you are and how prepared you are," praised Bush. "I think that extends beyond the rink, too. His calmness and ability to keep the distractions away is something that certainly helps him. I think that's part of the reason why he's able to have success on the ice."
Likewise, Bush is proud to have a few things in common with the Canadiens' starter that aren't technique-related.
First off, they share a mutual love for country music.
Second, the pair enjoy living the simple life.
"Like Carey, I'm not from an urban area. I grew up in a very modest setting. We're both simple people. We can be content sitting around a bonfire with friends we've had for 20 years, or we can just as well go out for a nice evening at the Ritz-Carlton," said Bush. "Simplicity is probably where both of us are comfortable, just speaking in regards to myself and what I see from his standpoint. I can really respect that."
And finally, they're both as hungry as ever to keep building on their respective accomplishments and add some serious hardware to their collection along the way.
"I never thought I would see myself reach milestones like this at the professional level, so I'm very proud of that," concluded Bush, who like Price boasts franchise records in games played, minutes played, shots against and saves. "I'm also eager to continue and add trophies to those milestones. Milestones are great, but trophies along with those milestones would be even better."