MONTREAL - An unexpected knock on your front door early on Sunday morning is rarely met with much enthusiasm. That is unless it's the Canadiens who are standing on your front porch.
As the winner of the "Grande Visite" contest, nine-year-old Maxime Dubé ran to the door that morning along with five of his friends to welcome Steve Bégin, Francis Bouillon and Guillaume Latendresse, who arrived bright and early at 8:30 am.
"I was up super early, I just couldn't wait until they arrived," said Maxime. "Plus I was only expecting two players, not three!"
The Verdun native was the big winner in the contest sponsored by Tim Hortons and TVA that saw over 10,000 entries come pouring in. Maxime's ballot was drawn despite the youngster having only filled in one contest form.
After a few games of table hockey and a quick breakfast with Begin, Bouillon and Latendresse, the three Habs and Maxime's crew made their way to the Denis Savard Arena. The five boys did a few drills before taking part in a game of shinny with almost 150 fans looking on. The game ended in a 1-1 draw and was followed by an autograph session.
"We were happy to provide this experience and glad to take part in this kind of special event," said Begin, who shouted encouragement as a coach for the day. "It was a great day that really brings you back to your childhood. It was awesome to see the look on the kids' faces. It was a nice initiative by the team to make this possible for these children.
Bouillon echoed his teammate's take on the fun-filled morning.
"It was a great day," said Bouillon. "It was a nice change. It was our pleasure to take part in the event. As a kid, we all would have done anything to experience something like this."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com