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Hab at Heart - Jean-Michel Anctil

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – When he isn’t hosting television and radio shows, comedian and presenter Jean-Michel Anctil always finds time to show his support for the Montreal Canadiens in a variety of ways. The crew caught up with the renowned humourist to learn more about his love for the CH.

How long have you been a Canadiens fan?

JEAN-MICHEL ANCTIL: When the Nordiques left Quebec City, it took some time for me to transition over. I’d say I’ve been a fan since the early 2000’s. But, I was a Canadiens fan before the Nordiques came into existence. When they arrived on the scene during the 1970’s, I was rooting for them. Towards the end of the 1990’s and early 2000’s, I went back to supporting the Canadiens.

It took you a few years, though…

JMA: Yes. To be honest, I wasn’t really rooting for the Avalanche when the Nordiques left town. I actually supported the Flyers. After that, I spent some time traveling around with Canadiens players who’d won championships. I formed friendships with a few of them, and that convinced me to cheer for the Canadiens.

What if a team returned to Quebec City?

JMA: That would be tough. I think I’d have to support both teams. But, I don’t know what I’d do when they went up against one another. I think I’d probably stay loyal to the Canadiens.

Did you play hockey growing up?

JMA: I played until Bantam before stopping. Then, I started again by playing in pick-up leagues. I still play two or three times a week.

Are you a pretty good player?

JMA: I’m not bad, but I made a big change last November. I was playing left-wing, and now I’m a goaltender. I really enjoy playing the position.

Was it at that particular moment that you realized that you weren’t as flexible as you thought you were?

JMA: No. At that level, there’s no problem. In the league I was playing in, they were missing a goalie. I got an e-mail at 11 o’clock at night. I responded by saying that if I had equipment, I’d be there. You could say I’d been bitten by the hockey bug, and the next week I went out and bought myself goalie equipment. Goalies are a rare commodity in most leagues. Sometimes I’m in goal five times a week.

What’s your favorite Canadiens memory?

JMA: I’d have to say the moment that hurt me the most was when the Canadiens eliminated the Nordiques in 1993. The other one would be when Guy Lafleur first announced his retirement.

What would you say is the most unique place you’ve ever watched a Canadiens game?

JMA: In Greece on an iPad during the playoffs. It was the Canadiens against the Bruins. I was on a trip and someone had their iPad and was able to hook it up to his television at home. At 4 o’clock in the morning, we were in the lobby in Greece watching the seventh game of the Canadiens-Bruins series this past spring.

You took part in a few baseball games this summer with Canadiens alumni. Did one of them really stand out to you?

JMA: Gibert Delorme. He’s in great shape. He’s a real machine. And, he’s funny, too. He does some play-by-play behind the plate. Gaston Gingras can also hit the ball well. I also had a lot of fun with Sergio Momesso. We share the same interest in poker, so we get along very well. There are also a few alums that had no idea who I was. Jocelyn Lemieux was one of them. He got to know me through softball. They’re very nice people.

You took part in a variety of events on the ice at the Bell Centre. Is it intimidating?

JMA: When you’re introduced, people applaud. I imagine that when they boo, you hear them, too. It’s a lot of “fun” to play in front of people like that. I also played in a game with Canadiens alumni in Drummondville. I had one shift with Guy Carbonneau and Guy Lafleur. I have to say I really felt like a kid out there. I felt like I was panicking a little bit. You don’t skate for nothing.

Did you manage to touch the puck a little bit?

JMA: Guy told me to go to the side of the net and to put my stick on the ice. True to form, the puck arrived directly on my stick.

What’s more stressful – doing a solo show at théâtre St-Denis or playing a game in front of 20,000 people at the Bell Centre?

JMA: I’d have to say doing a solo show is more stressful. In hockey, you get out of your element so you know you’re not playing with your career. A solo show is always stressful. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first show or not.

Which player would you like to do a show with?

JMA: I think P.K. Subban has the best potential. He’s talkative and he loves to put on a show. He’s a showman. Brandon Prust would be good, too.

Who would make the best Priscilla?

JMA: Brandon Prust. I can really imagine him wearing a wig and high-heels.

Which of your characters do you think would be the biggest groupie of them all?

JMA: It would have to be Priscilla. I think the players would have a tough time getting rid of her. The coach would, too. Michel Therrien would have some trouble. In fact, I’d really like to come up with a number featuring Priscilla and Michel Therrien. (laughs)

Interview conducted by Vincent Cauchy. Translated by Steven Nechay.

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