BROSSARD - The Canadiens' locker room boasts its fair share of video games aficionados, but Nate Thompson isn't one of them.
That's not going to stop the 34-year-old forward from hitting up Esports Central in downtown Montreal on Saturday, though, for a special fundraiser to benefit the Montreal Children's Hospital.
Thompson will be on site to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans as Canada's largest gaming center hosts an EA Sports NHL 19 tournament on Xbox featuring up to 32 participants.
He'll also be going head-to-head with the best-of-three, double elimination tournament winner in the game, too - even if he fully expects to come out on the wrong side of the scoresheet.
"I'm prepared to lose the game and lose everything that I play probably," cracked Thompson, who returned to the city last weekend from his offseason home in Southern California. "I'm not a gamer at all, so it'll be fun for me. I think the last video game I played was Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64, which was a while ago. I also had an Xbox for a little bit, but I didn't play it. All I know is the gaming world is pretty wild and it's amazing just how big it is."
While Thompson is adamant that he'll be severely outplayed, the 12-year NHL veteran is still hoping to keep things somewhat close… by not playing as himself.
"I don't know what my rating is on the game, but I'm guessing it's not in the 80's like all the big guys," joked Thompson, before revealing his plan of action when it comes time to pick up his controller. "I'll probably use Sidney Crosby or someone else really good if I want to give myself a chance to win."
Win or lose, the Anchorage, AK native believes spending some quality time at Esports Central might just inspire him to purchase a new gaming console.
"I know a lot of guys are playing, so maybe this will get me going," said Thompson, who also lists Goldeneye 007 and Guitar Hero among his favorite titles. "I don't know if my wife will be too big a fan of it, but they're long winters here and it's very cold, so you've got to find something to do. We'll see."
Nevertheless, Thompson's visit to the facility is about far more than gaming, of course.
"Whenever you can give back to the community, especially the Montreal Children's Hospital, it's a great cause. I was presented with the opportunity and I wanted to jump on it and help," explained Thompson. "Things like that can go a long way. Whenever us players can show up in the community and try to help those kids going through tough times, it's only good. It's definitely a good starting point. Hopefully something can evolve from this."
It's all in the details…
Saturday's event, which runs from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., will be held at 1231 Saint-Catherine Street West, Suite 200.
Click here for further details about the festivities, and to purchase tickets at a cost of $35.00 each.
Every ticket sold will be entered into a raffle to win two tickets to a Canadiens game at the Bell Centre, a post-game locker room tour and a meet-and-greet with players.