BROSSARD – This summer Louis Leblanc experienced a side of Quebec that most people never get to see.
After kicking back for a couple of well-deserved weeks of vacation, the Habs’ 21-year-old forward shut down his AC, stowed the sun-block and began a trek north. Far north. One-thousand-four-hundred-seventy-four kilometres north of Montreal to be exact – finally ending his journey in the small Inuit village of Inukjuak.
|Louis Leblanc in the Inukjuak community. |
“I went to lend a hand with a hockey school in Northern Quebec,” explained Leblanc, between sets in the Bell Sports Complex’s gym. “It was a hockey school for kids, and I spent a week up there with my friends. I hit the ice on one of the days, and then we had a big lunch with the kids and people from the community. We took photos and I signed a few autographs.”
Getting to wave a sweaty good-bye to Montreal’s 35-degree temperatures and crushing humidity in favor of Inukjuak’s mild 10-degree weather only sweetened the deal for Leblanc.
“It was a really great experience to be able to visit Northern Quebec like that and spend time in a small community right on the shore of a bay. It definitely left an impression,” he confessed, after following in the footsteps of David Desharnais who attended the same camp the year before.
If you haven’t taken note yet, Habs fans exist everywhere, and Leblanc was happy to see a few of the kids sporting Canadiens caps in the remote village.
“I was really impressed with the kids there. They seemed to know absolutely everything that was going on. They were asking me questions about how P.K. was doing, if Carey Price was a nice guy, etc… Some of those kids watched every single Canadiens game on TV,” explained Leblanc. “It was touching to see such a remote community showing so much interest in out team.”
The project’s organizer was just as happy to have Leblanc on board as the Habs’ No. 71 was to lend his time.
“We wanted to get an NHL player because it’s important to show kids that if they put in the effort and hard work, they’ll be able to make their dreams become reality,” pointed out Stéphane Paquet, who launched the project last year. “Louis did an amazing job, and he was very generous with the community there.”
With his nose now back to the grindstone, the Pointe-Claire native has been spending his days in Brossard getting in top form with a few other players, under the guidance of Habs’ strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard.
“He’s been pushing us pretty hard. There are a few guys here that are a little younger than me right now, like Olivier Archambault, Morgan Ellis and Charles Hudon. It’s great to see them arriving in Montreal,” added Leblanc, who was also in the company of current-edition Habs, Desharnais, Ryan White and Andrei Markov. “We should start hitting the ice in a couple of weeks.”
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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