MONTREAL – With a great season of hockey in the bank and a new northeast division banner to add to the collection, we took a look at a few current Habs who won titles, hoisted trophies and became champions long before taking their first strides in the NHL.
Respected by Habs fans across the globe as one of the club’s grittiest defensive pillars ever-willing to block shots, make tough plays and sacrifice his body for the good of the team, Josh Gorges took the first steps towards becoming the player he is today as a member of the Kelowna Rockets. Born and raised in Kelowna, BC, Gorges not only got the chance to play for his hometown team in the Juniors, but also had the chance to captain them to the first Memorial Cup championship in team history.
The 28-year-old blue-liner took a moment to look back and share some thoughts on what he took away from his journey to the top when he claimed the Memorial Cup in 2004.
|Josh Gorges hoisting the Memorial Cup |
“The best memories you have of winning are of the battles you go through with the guys. You come out of a game and look around the room and all you see is guys that are banged up – they’ve got ice-packs on their shoulders on their knees, cuts and stitches – and you know how tired they are because you know how tired you are,” explained the Canadiens’ assistant captain, following a practice at the team’s training facility in Brossard. “Then you get up the next day to play and you look around the room and all the guys that were beat down the day before are all fired up and ready to go right back and battle some more. When you win together you become friends forever. Most of those guys that I won with on that team are all my good friends still today.”
Nine years later, while the league and his teammates may have changed, Gorges still continues to apply same the philosophy that helped the Rockets hoist the Cup to what has become a successful NHL career.
“There are a lot of different things that have to fall into place to win, but the one thing you can always control is just making sure you stick together. The key to any team’s success is sticking together as a group,” said Gorges, who was named Western Conference Defenseman of the Year during the Rockets’ championship season. “There’s going to be bumps in the road, you’re going to face adversity and injuries and all these different intangibles that you can’t control. The one thing you can control is being a good teammate, looking out for one another and playing hard for each other. At the end of day, good teams are always made up of good individuals.”
A team-leader both in the room and on the ice, the Kelowna native is happy to make all the experience he’s gathered to date available for any Habs rookies who are interested in taking advantage of it.
“You learn from all experiences, good and bad. When you’ve gone through playoff runs and getting to championship games, you get to know the commitment it takes, the level of intensity and the rollercoaster ride it can be to get to the end,” concluded Gorges. “Then it’s about sharing those experiences and helping shed light for some of the guys that haven’t been through it, on what it’s like and what it takes to go all the way.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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