MONTREAL - Kids participating in the BLEU BLANC BOUGE in Action program's summer edition got to celebrate the end of their season with some ball hockey games at the Bell Centre on Wednesday, and were treated to a surprise visit by someone who knows a thing or two about playing hockey at that very location: Michael McCarron.
The summer program, in partnership with La Fondation Bon Depart, was in its second season after starting as a pilot project in 2016. The program worked with four day camps - Horizon Jeunesse, LCSM, le Trait d'Union and Bon Pasteur - to teach kids hockey basics at their respective area's BLEU BLANC BOUGE community rinks over a six-week period.
With the program having finished on August 10, the 150 participants were invited to the Bell Centre to close out the campaign with a guided tour followed by a ball hockey bonanza - with Youppi! cheering them on.
McCarron has been putting his ball hockey skills to good use lately, having also played against ATP tennis players as part of the Rogers Cup festivities. But when considering which opponents were tougher to face, the Habs' No. 34 sided with the youth movement.
"Honestly, these kids. They work so hard, they're sprinting everywhere, getting a good sweat in. These kids work hard, they're having fun," praised McCarron as he was swarmed by kids asking for pictures, happily posing with any and all who approached. "I remember when I was a kid, I'd run around as fast as I could. I'm sweating a bit more now than I was at the tennis match."
McCarron has lent his hand to the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation several times over the offseason, and couldn't think of a better way to spend his free time.
"It's definitely been important for me. It's all for a good cause, and I know it's helping the community," explained the 22-year-old. "This is the best way to spend your time if you're not busy with school."
The Grosse Pointe, MI native has been taking advantage of his first summer in Montreal, and it hasn't taken long for the towering forward to feel right at home.
"I've been having fun. It's been good training with Torrey Mitchell, too; I'm learning from him. I have been able to experience the city a bit more now. I know where to drive, how to get around, and I know when not to drive because of traffic - and construction. I do feel like a Montrealer. I'm starting to learn a couple of words, sentences and phrases in French now," McCarron concluded. "Overall, I'm happy I made the change to come here this summer."