Hockey players are creatures of habit. From game day routines, to the care of their equipment. Both of those things were turned on their head before Les Canadiennes played Game 1 of their CWHL semifinal against the Markham Thunder on Friday night.
“[Thursday] night after practice, a bunch of us decided to take our blades and our skates to give them a little bit of a prep before the weekend,” said Canadiennes player Karell Emard.
The team has an equipment manager who the players say does a great job, but they like the routine of getting their equipment prepped, hence the transport. One of the Canadiennes volunteered to put all the skates and blades in her Jeep because her schedule worked better. And, you see, that’s where the story goes for a turn.
“We got a call at about 11, I believe that’s when she woke up,” Emard said. “And it was like ‘[Karell], my Jeep is gone’. And I was like ‘I’m sorry, what? You’re joking right?’”
No, there was no joke. The black Jeep was stolen, along with all of the equipment. Hilary Knight first posted about the ordeal on Instagram and the team also posted about it later on.
And if you’re wondering whether the players had spare equipment, you’d be right. Problem was, for some players those were in the car as well.
“[Thursday] night I decided to put my spare blades and other people did the same, and we had nothing. We had nothing at all,” Emard said.
In all, six players were affected by missing skates or blades.
Emard found a pair of old skates from college in her basement. Emerance Maschmeyer did as well. Bauer, who sponsors Knight among other Canadiennes, helped out by getting some demo skates that were played in once or twice by other people for some of the players, including Emard.
“Everybody stepped up,” Emard said. “Shoutout to Guillaume from Elite Blades. He was able to profile all our blades, got them here on time, and J.-P. from Sport Campus Verdun was able to bake skates super last minute so our feet wouldn’t hurt as much.”
The team’s recruiter, Eric Hurtubise, works at Sports Rousseau and helped the players buy skates.
Emard started the game as the team’s second-line centre and ended it as a second-pairing defender due to injuries in-game. Before the match, she had three pairs of skates to try, and if you saw two adult women skating around after a kid’s practice at Place Bell, it was the Canadiennes trying out their new skates.
The game went well for Montreal — a 3-0 win — and Emard was no worse for wear although she did have a foot cramp because the new skates weren’t as wide as her normal ones.
“Nothing can come easy,” said Canadiennes associate coach Caroline Ouellette after the game, almost exasperated talking about the events. “I could not believe what happened. Everything put together, it was another distraction and another reason why I was so proud of our performance.”
But the team’s attitude was great, according to Emard. And she used that to put her teammate’s conscience at ease.
“She was very worried about us and was so sorry and we were like, ‘Your Jeep is gone. Skates and blades are nothing to us.’”
If anyone has any information about the stolen black Jeep Wrangler, you can report it to Montreal police.