LASALLE – The Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation inaugurated its fourth community rink under the falling snow at Hayward Park in LaSalle on Tuesday afternoon.
Members of the Habs management team and alumni president Rejean Houle joined David Desharnais and Raphael Diaz for the big unveil. All braved the elements and took a few laps around the new rink with some of the local kids in attendance who have been waiting to hit the ice outdoors since construction began last August.
Team owner and president Geoff Molson kicked off the day by thanking the multiple partners who helped make the rink a reality, including the FTQ, the Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the City of Montreal blue-collar workers, FTQ construction workers, local entrepreneurs and the City of LaSalle, among others. The seventh generation Montrealer also took the opportunity to offer one last surprise to the crowd in attendance.
“Thanks to the generosity of Bauer, we will also be able to donate over 100 pairs of skates, helmets and sticks to the local organizations who work with children in the area,” explained Molson. “That equipment will help kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in hockey get in the game.”
After seeing the results of months of construction come to fruition, LaSalle mayor, Manon Barbe, thanked the Canadiens Children’s Foundation for supporting the cause.
“We’ve been looking forward to this and it’s a project we were excited to see completed,” described Barbe, after receiving a No.4 “LaSalle” jersey from the Canadiens’ owner representing the fourth of five community rinks the team has built in the city. “Anytime you make a sport like hockey accessible, it provides children with a chance to get moving. Who knows? One of these kids might be playing for the Montreal Canadiens some day.”
This isn’t the first time Canadiens players have hit the ice in LaSalle, with former Habs Rejean Houle and Jacques Lemaire having grown up skating on outdoor rinks in the community.
“The Canadiens’ legacy started right here, in LaSalle,” explained David Desharnais to the children in the crowd. “That’s something special. I would have loved to have had something like this when I was young. For me, the rink was a place I could go out and blow off steam – after my homework was finished, of course.”
The refrigerated outdoor surface has the exact dimensions of an NHL rink and can be used for skating from November to March. The multi-purpose facility will provide space for soccer or ball hockey games in the spring and summer months.
In November, the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation announced that construction on the fifth and final outdoor rink will begin in August 2012 at Confederation Park in the Côte-des-Neiges/Notre-Dame-de- Grâce neighborhood.
Lee Anne Vincent O'Connor is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.
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