VANCOUVER - Nineteen-plus years have passed since Shayne Corson last skated at the Bell Centre wearing the CH.
It was April 8, 2000, when the building was still known as Molson Centre.
That's all about to change come late February, though, when Corson participates in the 2020 Montreal Canadiens Fantasy Camp.
He'll be joined by fellow alums Gaston Gingras, Stephane Richer, Josh Gorges, Rejean Houle and Hall of Famer Yvan Cournoyer for the sixth edition of the event.
While Corson's trip to Montreal is still two-and-half months away, the 53-year-old Midland, ON native is already pumped about his upcoming visit.
"There'll be a lot of emotions that run through my body when I step on the ice with that jersey back on. It's just hard to explain," said Corson, who played 662 regular-season games and 90 postseason contests during two stints with the Habs that spanned 11 seasons. "Montreal is like a second home to me. As soon as I land, I get a little thing in my belly that tells me I miss this place. I grew up there. That was a pretty big part of my life, so it's going to be an honor to skate there again."
Corson will be reunited with former teammates in Gingras and Richer. They were both members of the Canadiens when Corson debuted in October 1985.
He was only 19 years old at the time.
"Gaston was just a great person and a great hockey player. He was one of the veterans when I got there, and he was great to be around. And Riche, I ended up playing with him and he was a great linemate. I really enjoyed playing with him," mentioned Corson, the eighth overall selection by Montreal in the 1984 NHL Draft. "They're two guys I looked up to and respected a lot. We had a lot of fun together."
Corson also has a personal connection with some of the other alums attending the Fantasy Camp as well.
"Reggie's [Rejean Houle] a legend. He was my GM when I came back to Montreal [during the 1996-97 season]. He gave me an opportunity. He was a great person, and he treated me with a lot of respect," praised Corson, regarding the five-time Stanley Cup champion. "And Yvan is just a great person and a legend, too. He was one of my assistant coaches when I was in Montreal the second time. It was him, Mario Tremblay and Steve Shutt, so I was around some awesome people. That's one thing I tell people about playing in Montreal, you're always around legends of the game."
And it was those legends, in particular, that passed along some valuable lessons that served him rather well throughout his 19-year career.
"The biggest thing they taught me was how to be kind and humble, and to feel lucky and appreciative about what you have - you get to play hockey for a living," explained Corson, who also played for Edmonton, St. Louis, Toronto and Dallas. "They also taught us how to treat the fans with respect. If it weren't for the fans, we wouldn't be able to do what we love. We were lucky to be around the guys who taught us."
With that in mind, Corson insists attending the Fantasy Camp is a perfect opportunity to give something back to a fanbase - and an organization - that still means so much to him.
He's looking forward to practicing and playing with some of the biggest Canadiens fans in the world.
"It's going to be a great experience to skate with them. I'll tell some stories and they'll tell some stories. It'll be an honor to spend some time with them," said Corson. "The Canadiens gave me an opportunity to play in the NHL, which is something I dreamed about since I was a young kid. To be drafted in the Montreal Forum was incredible. I want the people of Montreal and the organization to know how much I appreciate what they did for me."
And being able to watch his former squad while he's in town will undoubtedly be a sweet experience for Corson, too.
All these years later, he remains a steadfast supporter of the Canadiens - even though he resides in Toronto.
"I love hockey and I love the Canadiens. I like to see them do well. Sometimes, you wish you could get out there and help them. You wish you were out there playing still. Us old-timers miss the game," concluded Corson. "But it's always fun and exciting to watch a game, and being able to sit in the Bell Centre makes it that much more special."
Click here to learn more about the 2020 Montreal Canadiens Fantasy Camp.