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Simple Plan thrilled with Winter Classic experience

by David Satriano

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Canadian punk-rock band Simple Plan has performed hundreds of shows, but Friday they were doing something for the first time.

The Montreal-based band, all of whom are huge hockey fans, performed "O Canada" prior to the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium.

"We've been around for 17 years and this is the first time we have ever done the national anthem," drummer Chuck Comeau, whose dad used to have Canadiens season tickets, said prior to the game.

This isn't the first time they have performed at an NHL event.

"As hockey fans, we did the All-Star Game (2009 in Montreal), now we are doing the Winter Classic. All that's left is a Stanley Cup Final and we'll have the perfect trilogy," Comeau said.

A Canadiens fan growing up, Comeau had a former player in his wedding party when he got married.

"Over the years, I've had a chance to meet some of my favorite players and go to their morning skates. I was friends with Jose Theodore while he played for Montreal and Washington," Comeau said. "He was in my wedding. We became really good friends because of this band and our connection to hockey.

"When [San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard] Vlasic comes to [Los Angeles], we have dinner together. It's really cool for me as a hockey fan to get a chance to become close with these guys and to sort of live vicariously through them our dream of being pro athletes."

Lead singer and guitar player Pierre Bouvier said he was going to soak in the experience.

"It's exciting. Playing for these sort of things and the sporting events are always a little more exciting," he said. "I think the fact that we know there will be millions of people watching at home makes it a bit more of an exhilarating experience, and having the massive crowd makes it pretty awesome.

"We're all hockey fans and the Winter Classic is sort of the throwback to the original way it was."

Growing up, Bouvier and Comeau played hockey on frozen ponds like most Canadian children.

"Every weekend, we had our own Winter Classic on the rink and in the suburbs of Montreal, so for us to be here. ...this is the pinnacle of outdoor hockey. It's a big honor to be here," Comeau said.

Touring hasn't made it easy keeping up with hockey news, but Comeau said he gets his fill.

"It's hard to watch all the games when you are touring and everything, but even on the road, I have NHL Gamecenter on the computer, so you get on and watch some games, and watch 'NHL On the Fly' every night to keep up with everything," he said. "Montreal is obviously my hometown team but I'm mostly a fan of the sport. I like to follow all the games and see everything."

In 2008, the Canadiens used Simple Plan's song, "Let's Go" and changed the words to, "Go Habs Go!" after each Montreal goal.

"Every time they scored for a whole season, we heard our song," Bouvier said. "It was awesome."

Simple Plan has an album coming out next month and said a lot of the music was inspired by hockey.

"Our new album is coming out Feb. 19, 'Taking One for the Team,' and the the whole package of artwork is sports-themed. Chuck is a hockey player in it," Bouvier said.

The band also performed during the second intermission.

"Montreal is obviously playing today and we are one of the bigger bands from Montreal and they know our love for hockey," Bouvier said. "We have played at the Bell Centre a bunch of times, did the All-Star Game. I think this was a way to bring something from Montreal to represent the team."

The band American Authors, from Boston, performed during pregame festivities.

"I grew up in Minnesota, so a bunch of my friends grew up playing hockey and a bunch of our team love hockey," lead singer Zac Barnett said. "I think for all of us, this is our first time here in Gillette Stadium. We met here in Boston [at Berklee College of Music], so it's pretty cool to finally be out here and be playing here."

Jordan Smith sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," and Nate Ruess performed at the first intermission. The Boston Pops were among the other performers.


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