Pierre-Cedric Labrie | Wait a minute, at 35

(Syracuse, NY) Alex Barré-Boulet teases this Thursday morning during Crunch practice. In defense, our interview with Charles Hudon stretches out and waits his turn. He intervenes for the first time by holding a microphone under Hudon’s chin, as if interviewing him. Two minutes later he returns to the charge, this time carrying, as “microphone”, a huge push broom like you see in warehouses.

Updated yesterday at 8:06 PM.

Guillaume Lefrancois

Guillaume Lefrancois
The press

We laugh, but Barré-Boulet didn’t always want to joke this season. A reminder of his chaotic fall: entrenched in the Lightning’s camp, disbanded on October 10, claimed by the Kraken on the 11th, resubmitted by the Kraken 10 days later, claimed by the Lightning on October 22.

A few recalls and layoffs later, here he is full-time at the Syracuse Crunch, ready to take on the Laval Rocket in the American League semifinals starting this Friday. He comes in this series as the club’s top scorer, with 63 points in 58 games.

The key to the success? Talent of course, because it was no coincidence that he was the QMJHL scoring champion in 2017-2018. But also the helping hand of a veteran: Pierre-Cédric Labrie.

“When I crashed, I had a hard time getting back to 100% mentally. I had a good chat with PC in Belleville. He said to me: “You are in the most difficult part of your career. You tasted the National League, you came back. I have lived it.” Since then, my game went back upstairs. †

He is so eager to improve, you want to follow him. I tell myself that if this man still wants to get better, I still have scabs to eat!

Alex Barré-Boulet, about Pierre-Cédric Labrie

Labrie’s words made an impact because he lived: 685 games in the American League, a Calder Cup, two seasons in Germany, 46 games in the NHL, one season in the ECHL at age 32. Few people could have predicted such a career for a man who played for the Restigouche Tigres at age 19 and played his only full season in the QMJHL at age 20.

skating lessons

But Labrie is holding out in the American League. On the ice, his role is limited. He has scored 8 points in 35 games with the Crunch this season, and his training attendance is never assured. But his hard work makes him an example of inspiration.

Thursday morning, Labrie was in the Crunch practice at the Upstate Medical Arena with the younger boys. They are all necessarily younger than him as he is the dean of the group at 35 years old.

Benoit Groulx, the team’s head coach, does not hesitate to praise his veteran.

“When our development coaches are in town, he joins the youth, he does power skating with them, says Groulx. Barb Underhill, who takes care of the skating, told me that every time he joins the group, the level goes up. †

When the young people see him, when they see his good will, they focus on the details. He is a great support for our coaches.

Benoît Groulx, head coach of Crunch, on Pierre-Cédric Labrie

It was also fascinating to listen to the details of Labrie that he will be looking for in said skating sessions. At 35 years old, he could very well only rely on his leadership, his size, his robustness – in short, everything that has allowed him to have a great career – and not dwell on his skating.


PHOTOGRAPH SCOTT L. THOMAS, Courtesy of Syracuse Crunch

Pierre-Cedric Labrie

“I could have had the mentality of the man who says to himself, ‘I’m too old to change.’ But I worked with her when I was 24, 25, I felt more fluid, she showed us how to separate our upper and lower bodies, how to keep our feet under our bodies to maintain control. always ask her if she has a hole for me in a group, it is a piece of cake for me to work with her!

“Honestly, my age, I don’t see it like most people. As long as I’m feeling good from year to year, I feel like I’m 28. These courses make me realize I’m still in it.

“It is those kinds of extras that the organization is looking for to help young people move forward. †

Charles Hudon is impressed to see a man leave who “always wants to improve”.

“It’s not the same PC I knew when I faced him, who played in the fourth line and still wanted to fight. There he tries to make games. He wants to be physically, but also in the attack zone, when forechecking, by recuperating pucks. †

A changing role

If Labrie is still around, it’s mostly because he’s been able to adapt to a changing game of hockey. It was not uncommon to see him reach the triple digits in the penalty minutes column; this season he played 54 games in 56 games (he started the season with Hartford’s Wolf Pack).

“In the past, the coach gave me a pat on the back when there were five minutes left and we lost with three goals. I was preparing for the next game, says the behemoth from Baie-Comeau. There I know my role, without get a pat on the back.”

To stay longer, you have to adapt.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie

Labrie has a valid agreement until 2023. “He knows he has more behind him than before. But he knows what to bring, Groulx recalls. In three months here he improved his skills, his… edges† It’s a legacy that lasts, because the young people you’ve worked with remember it throughout their careers. †

Labrie knows very well what to do to adapt. “That’s probably where I’m the heaviest. Next summer I will have to lose a few pounds because the game is not slowing down. The players are fast, they’re getting into the league, they’re strong, up a notch from 10 years ago. If you want to follow… Because if I can play until I’m 40, I will! †

In brief

Hudson: no waves


FRANOIS ROY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Charles Hudson

Anyone who expected Charles Hudon to make an incendiary statement at the start of a series against his former team will be disappointed. Hudon’s relationship with the Canadian had ended in a fishtail, except that the org chart of the CH and the Rocket as a whole has changed since his departure. This is without forgetting that Syracuse suffered three defeats in four nights in Laval last February. “My mourning is over,” Hudon launched. It was hard to lose all three games there. It was a big wake-up call for our team. Since then we have a good record. My goal is to get my . to play game and let my trio do its job. Hudon admits that he does not want to dwell on the identity of the opponent. “The organization will always be in my heart, I’ve been there since 2012. I will always remember it. But I’m trying to think of something else, not Laval. Also the former number 54 did not want to dwell on his future for long whether it will be in Syracuse, elsewhere on the continent or in Europe. “I will think about the play-offs. That has been our goal since the beginning of the year.”

A new attitude

That said, Hudon had a successful season, hitting 30 goals in the American League for the first time. He scored 30 goals and 27 assists in 66 games. He also did it by returning to the middle position, having spent the last few years on the wing. “Charles had a great season in terms of points. We love his duet with Alex Barré-Boulet, said Benoît Groulx. His challenge is to play consistently in all three areas. He’s better, but there’s still room for improvement, and he knows it. But he had a good season and scored important goals. †

Quebec delegation


PHOTOGRAPH OLIVIER JEAN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Benoît Groulx, Crunch Head Coach

In the entourage of the Bliksem school club, people still speak just as much French. We remind you that head coach Benoît Groulx is supported by Gilles Bouchard and Éric Veilleux, with Jean-Philippe Côté in player development and Julien BriseBois as GM of the Lightning. On the ice, Gabriel Dumont, Gabriel Fortier, Charles Hudon, Alex Barré-Boulet, Daniel Walcott, Anthony Richard, Maxime Lagacé, Rémi Élie, Shawn Element and Pierre-Cédric Labrie add the French touch to the organisation. “It’s like going back to junior! launches Barré-Boulet. We try to speak English as much as possible, but when we get together, we speak French, we talk about what’s happening in Quebec. We’re going to eat together. In the bus it is the Quebecers who play cards together. †

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