Hockey Lives on in Montreal
The 13th Edition of the Montreal Media Celebrity Hockey Marathon Took Place With a Record-Breaking 73 Teams Participating
Many Canadians across the nation have dreamt of playing hockey professionally. At the very least, they have all fantasized about playing alongside their hockey idols from the day they laid their eyes on the game.
Fortunately for them, many were given the chance to lace up their skates and play with some hockey legends at the 13th annual Montreal Media Celebrity Hockey Marathon that took place on Saturday April 30 at the Pierrefonds Sportsplexe.
“I got some pictures taken with the [alumni] team already and it’s fun!” said referee Ronald Daymond enthusiastically.
Daymond is one of many who took the opportunity to meet and play with some former NHL alumni and players from the Canadian women’s hockey team this past weekend, in honour of the Otis Grant and Friends Foundation. Several members of the Montreal media also made their way out to the West Island to form 10 local media hockey teams who are used to being competitors on a daily basis on the mediatic scene.
“To be totally honest, it’s an unheard of concept,” said organizer Marty Lamarre. “Because most of the time, any media shy away from working together, they never ever! [Having them] under one roof today, helping out the greater cause, for me, that’s a phenomenal success.”
Since 1999,Concordia alumni (‘93), former boxing legend and silver medallist at the Pan American games in 1987, Otis Grant has raised funds for individuals in need of food and clothing. Throughout the years, his foundation has expanded its goals to helping students pay off their education by providing bursaries and scholarships, while also helping families dealing with medical expenses.
Around 600 volunteers were expected to arrive throughout the day, which began at 7:30 a.m. and was expected to end around 10 pm. A record-setting 73 teams were slated to take the ice on one of four rinks to play a 55 minute hockey game.
According to Lamarre, the most notable aspect of the day was the fact that every single person participating in this event was not receiving any monetary compensation for their presence—a true act of altruism in his eyes.
“Everybody today is donating in what I call the ‘pay it forward’,” said Lamarre. “To me, that’s a real noble, humanitarian, in a world of ‘me, me, me, me, me!’ Today, everybody seems to be donating, so I’m very pleased with that.”
Whether a member of the media, a former or current hockey player, or just a regular Joe, there was something for everyone at this event. Five-time participant and head coach of the Stingers women’s hockey team Julie Chu said the event has given her a chance to mingle with some of her teammates from the Montreal Canadiennes, whose season ended in March.
Moreover, Chu took part in an autograph session in which she showcased her silver medal from the Sochi Olympics, won with the United States, alongside her Canadian counterparts.
“I know that the girl side, with the Canadiennes and Olympians, we always look forward to getting a chance to come and participate and every year they put on a great event”, said Chu.
Montreal Canadiens forward Stefan Matteau, son of hockey legend Stephane Matteau, participated in the event for the first time, highlighting the importance of giving back to the community and spending whatever quality time he can with his father.
“There’s so much support from the fans and so much support from the province and the city and the country really for our team so it’s a huge part of it to show appreciation and give back,” said Matteau.
This year, the event raised a little bit more than $42,000, thanks to donations from volunteers, raffles, NHL alumni teams, the Canadian women’s Olympic team, the McGill Martlets, the Montreal Canadiennes, Quebec celebrity teams, and the local media teams.
While Lamarre was hoping to hit the $50,000 mark for the first time, he’s pleased with the amount of support the event has garnered throughout the years and is excited to see what the future holds for the event.
“This template can be duplicated anywhere, but on the skeleton staff that I am, for now I am focusing on this one,” said Lamarre, smiling. “I would like to see this [event] grow.”
For Jamaican native Otis Grant, this is but one way that he is giving back to the city that has given him so much from an education to a place him and his family can call home.
“To give back, you know he achieved it through being here,” said Grant’s father. “He came here when he was pretty young. He’s giving back something in return.”