?You come for hockey game?? asked our waiter at a quaint corner bistro in Old Quebec City.
?Claude Julien?? he continued in his broken English, asking us about Boston?s head coach and the former Quebec Nordiques defenseman.
Armed with information, he then walked immediately over to the manager of the restaurant and excitedly rehashed our brief conversation, translating it in French as the other waiters gathered around. Soon, others casually walked over to our table, asking questions and unabashedly showing us their love for the game.
?This ring, my girlfriend gave to me,? said one waiter, sporting a gold ring on his left ring finger with a Nordiques logo.
?It was like 1989,? he continued, proudly describing the history of the jewelry piece.
Inside Le Colisee, the aura of the old NHL team still remained. Its NHL banners were proudly displayed, with wooden seats high in the ?endzones? that were so vertically lined they looked like a wall. The press box practically sat on top of the ice, and our media seats were so close to the rink that we could actually hear Byron Bitz calling for the puck in the slot.
?I remember opening that door quite a bit,? said a smiling Julien, pointing to the bench door and recalling his days in Quebec.
The cheers for this preseason game were mostly for the Montreal Canadiens, but there were plenty of Bruins fans spotted in the full-house crowd. There were close to 50 in the Patrice Bergeron clan, excitedly waiting for him after the game in a small scrum. This is his home, his turf, and a way for his aging grandparents to see him play without enduring long travel.
Amidst the fervor surrounding the Phil Kessel trade, the days leading up to it, and the days right after, there was little other excitement to break up the lull of preseason. Quebec City, with its European charm, its French-only arena announcements and hockey love, brought something different to this preseason.