Francis Paré comes off the ice in Geneva with a smile on his face and asks for a few minutes before we can sit down to record the podcast. It is clear that he is happy with his life in Central Europe and that he has acclimated himself in the French-speaking region of Switzerland and in the team of Genève-Servette.
Francis speaks about growing up as a Montreal Canadiens fan, having been born in Lemoyne, a Shea Weber slapshot from the Bell Centre. Having gone undrafted, Paré speaks about a bit of disappointment, but also the chance he got from Mike Babcock and the Detroit Red Wings, and winning the Calder Cup in his last season.
Paré turned to Europe, with Finland as the first stop, landing with a team well known to Montreal fans: Saku Koivu’s former TPS Turku. When he got the chance to join Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL, he jumped at the chance to join the world’s second-best league.
After that move Paré has been a part of Traktor Chelyabinsk, Slovan Bratislava, Medvescak Zagreb, and now Genève-Servette of the Swiss league. He has played with arguably the best player outside the NHL, Sergey Mozyakin, on a line with Danis Zaripov, and against players like Ilya Kovalchuk, Vadim Shipachyov, and Artemi Panarin.
He was one of the first North Americans to hoist the Gagarin Cup, along with teammates Chris Lee, Tim Brent, and Cal O'Reilly in Metallurg in 2014, claiming a fantastic Game Seven win at home in front of a rapturous crowd.
He speaks of the Patrik Laine incident from last year with a laugh and comments on his KHL All-Star experience from earlier this year. He discusses what has been a good start in Geneva, posting nine points (4G, 5A) in six games to start his NLA career.
Francis Paré takes us through a hockey life that is full of ups and downs, where the support of his wife has been essential and what joy it is to have a newborn daughter at home. It might not be the glamorous NHL life, but it has been an amazing experience and adventure.