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Witnessing a legend

Paul Byron took part in a skateboarding demo with the legendary Tony Hawk on Saturday at Olympic Park

by Hugo Fontaine and Dan Braverman @canadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - Paul Byron is used to zipping by opponents when he's playing hockey. It's quite the opposite, however, when he's on a skateboard.

As part of the Jackalope festival, taking place at the Esplanade Financière Sun Life at Olympic Park this weekend, the Habs' No. 41 took a break from his summer training to jump around on wheels while wearing a helmet that's slightly different than the one he wears on the ice.

He didn't do it alone, though, as he was accompanied by skateboarding living legend Tony Hawk, who was in town to lend his support to the first edition of the Jackalope event. Hawk is used to being surrounded by the best in his business, and said he was impressed by the Habs forward's moves on the ramps.

"Paul can hold his own. I bet he'd do better on my board," explained the 49-year-old skateboarder. "It wouldn't be so wobbly."

Byron didn't feel as comfortable on a skateboard as he does on a sheet of ice, but was totally at ease with Hawk taking his kids for a spin on the ramps.

"Absolutely," conceded Ottawa native. "If there's one guy I trust on the board, it's him."

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Une publication partagée par Sarah Byron (@sarahannbyron) le

That comfort level must have something to do with the fact that the proud father of two was in the presence of one of the greatest to ever take up skateboarding. Byron knew he was in for something special once the meeting of the two athletes took place.

"It was incredible to watch a living legend in person. He just makes it look so easy," praised the Habs' 22-goal scorer in 2016-17. "It's the simplest thing - as a kid, everyone had a skateboard, but to do what he does is incredible. Meeting a living legend in person was a really cool experience."

Far away from his home in the San Diego area, Hawk was back in Montreal for the first time in a few years, and was happy to soak it all in.

"I love it, there's a lot of support for skating here. It's a beautiful city, and I got to bring one of our kids," pronounced Hawk, who says he enjoys strolling around Old Montreal and the city's fine dining. "Absolutely, it was an easy decision to come for Jackalope."

While the skateboarding pro may not have much time for hockey back home - barely having time to make it to all the skate events he'd like - he still has an appreciation for the frozen game.

"What I love about hockey and basketball is that you're never waiting for something to happen," concluded Hawk. "It's super exciting, it's non-stop action."

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