Talbot and Gervais organize Tournee des Joueurs to stay in shape and raise money for charity

Max Talbot is looking to stay in shape after a career year in his first season in Philly. (Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commons)

By: Tim Kolupanowich, Executive Editor

@TimKolupan_

Just because there’s not NHL, doesn’t mean hockey fans aren’t going to have chances to see the best players in the world. Aside from sharing the wealth with Europe a bit, many players have found a spot in North America to showcase their talents. TSN.ca has compiled a list of who is playing where, both in Europe and in the minors, for your convenience.

Fans in Quebec will have a special opportunity as a number of NHLers are playing a series of exhibition games across the province as a way to keep loose and warm up for the season since all preseason games have been canceled. Organized by two members of the Philadelphia Flyers, center Maxime Talbot and defenseman Bruno Gervais, the Tournee des Joueurs features the Montreal team taking on the Quebec team, with players from across the league taking part in the tournament. Game 1 was played at the Complex Multisports de Chateauguay in Chateauguay, Que., with the Montreal team winning 7-4.

The series of exhibition games is being played at local rinks, giving many fans the chance to see the top-flight players in person for the first time. From TSN.ca:

First-come, first-served tickets sold at the door for $20 drew a standing-room-only crowd of 1,250 to the multi-rink arena.

Talbot and Bruno Gervais, both of the Philadelphia Flyers, organized the tour, which will see more games played next week in Saint-Hyacinthe and Sherbrooke.

“We could go in any rink, close the door and have these two rosters and just play between us and compete and try to get ready for next season,” Talbot said. “But at the same time we decided we might as well give a show to the fans and get money for charity.

“So the fans are really something that is important for us, to give them a little hockey while they can’t get NHL hockey and hopefully they’ll enjoy what we’re putting on the ice.”

According to NBC Sports’ Pro Hockey Talk, a similar “league” was started for the 2004-05 lockout by former player Joel Bouchard, who has given advice and support to Talbot and Gervais in their attempt to get in shape and entertain as many fans as possible. Bouchard’s league consisted of 16 games, played four-on-four, over eight weeks, all of which sold out and helped raise over $800,000.

Those paying the $20 admission fee are treated to more than just prospects and bottom-line players. Playing for the Montreal team is Montreal Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta, winger Colby Armstrong and defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, Gervais, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, Vancouver Canucks winger Alex Burrows, Ottawa Senators winger Guillaume Latendresse, Columbus Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard and UFAs Steve Begin and Mathieu Darche.

The Quebec team includes Los Angeles Kings winger Simon Gagne, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, Tampa Bay Lighting winger Benoit Pouliot, New Jersey Devils winger Steve Bernier, Washington Capitals center Matieu Perreault and defenseman Roman Hamrlik and Habs forwards David Desharnais, Travis Moen, Brandon Prust and Lars Eller and defensemen Francis Bouillon.

Some bigger names are expected to join them according to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. Canadiens goalie Carey Price said he is still waiting for his invitation from Talbot and Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere, St. Louis Blues winger David Perron and San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

It’s not the NHL’s preseason, but for some fans this is even better. They are seeing more talent at a fraction of the cost (preseason tickets are usually the same as regular season prices these days) than in an ordinary preseason game. And though there’s no hitting, the large number of players representing the Habs must be a thrill for those who don’t have the opportunity to get a ticket in the world’s most electrifying hockey hotbed.

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