BROSSARD - One by one over the past few days, the Canadiens who were in Vancouver representing their countries have slowly been trickling back into the Montreal dressing room. Also back to work behind the scenes prepping the Habs’ gear for the upcoming road trip, equipment manager Pierre Gervais had a few more reasons to smile after Monday morning’s practice. Fresh off his stint handling Team Canada’s equipment needs, Gervais was still basking in his golden glow.
“I’m really tired, but I couldn’t be happier. Unlike winning the Stanley Cup, as soon as the competition is over, everyone takes off to get back to their respective teams,” explained Gervais, who was also a member of the Canadian contingents in Salt Lake City and Torino. “[Sunday] night, I was at the airport getting on a red eye back to Montreal. I caught some of the highlights on T.V. but everything went by so fast that it felt like it was all just a dream.”
Over the past 17 days, much like Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, the rest of Team Canada and the entire country, Gervais – whose wife is also just days away from giving birth – was riding an emotional roller coaster throughout the Games.
“I’ve had some pretty special moments in the past two weeks. The gold medal game was absolutely incredible, just like the win over Russia where we really got to see Team Canada at its best,” recalled Gervais, who is in his 22nd year with the Habs. “What I remember most was the speech Steve Yzerman gave in the room after our preliminary loss to the Americans. He reminded the guys that they give out gold medals in the second week – not in the first – and to stay positive. I think that was a turning point for the team and had a big impact on the players.”
That sage advice from Stevie Y set the stage for an epic battle with the arch-rival US in the gold medal game. After seeing Zach Parise tie the game for the Americans with only 25 seconds to play in regulation, Team Canada regrouped during the intermission leading up to the sudden death overtime period.
“It was pretty calm in the dressing room just before OT. Only Scotty Niedermayer even said a word,” revealed Gervais of the Canadian captain. “When Sidney scored the winner, it was like the roof of the arena was blown off. The players all knew what was at stake and what kind of pressure they were under. They were playing at home and all of Canada was watching.”
Like Mike Babcock and the coaching staff, Gervais didn’t receive an Olympic medal for his efforts, but he still has some sweet hardware coming his way.
“The Olympic medals are strictly for the athletes, but the rest of us will receive special medals from Hockey Canada and of course a championship ring,” explained Gervais who boasts one of each from his tour of duty in Salt Lake City in 2002.
A gold medal and a newborn child in the same week? No wonder Gervais is smiling so much these days. Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis and Manny Almela.
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