Thursday, 7 May 2009

My First Day in Epinal (aug 16th, 2007)

At this time I would like to thank everyone that I have come into contact with over the past two seasons in Epinal. When I first arrived on August 16th, 2007, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was at the train station in Paris, speaking broken french and trying to buy a ticket to Epinal. I bought a first class ticket and ended up sitting in 2nd class, having no idea to check the car number or anything. As I lugged around two giant hockey bags, a back pack and my hockey sticks, I barely made it on the train.

Being from another country, we hear that the people in France are all snobs and very unhelpful in situations like that, but I have to say that is totally false. As I struggled to get on the train with all of my stuff, a very nice man helped me out and we got talking (in English). He spoke very well and ended up being from Epinal. As he saw how much I struggled and knowing that I had to switch trains in Nancy (where he had his car parked), he offered to give me a ride to Epinal and get me to the rink in time for practice. I am not sure if I would have made it without him, it was almost as if he was sent from God. Funny I say that, because he name was Mr. Dieudonné. Which means "God Given."

As he got me to the rink, I had now been travelling for roughly 24hours straight as I flew in from Vancouver. From there I was in the good hands of Thibaut, who is now a good friend of mine. He took my bags, escorted me to the dressing room as the players were going out for practice. Coming down the stairs was my new coach Shawn Allard, the first thing he says "Hey nice to meet you, get your hockey gear on!" I was thinking that he couldn't be serious I was travelling for a full day, with flights, trains and cars! I was on the ice 10mins later.

After the practice I went with my new roommates, the Finns! At this time however, we were living in a vacation home in Aydoilles about 20mins away. We get there and I have no bedroom, nor do I have a bed. Then a tiny mattress shows up for me and I find a cozy spot on the floor for the next two weeks. The reason for this was because we had 10 guys living in the house at the time.

I put my bags away quickly then was taken back into the city to eat at the Capitainerie, finally my first meal, I was so hungry. Unable to understand 3/4 of the menu, I noticed "poulet." CHICKEN!!!!! Yes I'll take it. It was pretty good, so I was going to give the waitress a good tip but apparently the tip is already included in the prices here in France? Even better :)

With a time zone change from Vancouver to France being 9 hours, I was pretty messed up but if you end up travelling for a full day without sleeping and surviving off a bunch of Snickers Bars, you should have no trouble sleeping that first night!

After that everything started to fall into place, I got a bedroom finally when Petrak found his own place, a few of the young guys moved out and then our tournament gave me a taste of Pro Hockey with 3 games in 3 days. So I was right into the swing of things quickly and I have not missed a step since then, taking my job as a professional hockey player very serious and living everyday being grateful that I can go to work knowing that I love my job!

Epinal gave me my start and for that I am extremely thankful and will never forget my first day of pro hockey in France!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Verbal Agreement Reached

It seems lots of information has been swirling around as of late, some accurate and some far fetched. Either way I am very flattered as people have been announcing my signing with many different teams in France. It feels good to be wanted :)

To update everyone, an agreement has been reached with one of the top teams in Ligue Magnus and though it has not been made official yet by signing the contract, everything will be official this weekend. I look forward to sharing more details in a few days. Thank you everyone for your support during this time, especially the very understanding Epinal fans!!!