Brandon Prust suited up in Montreal, just in a different way than he’s used to.
The 31-year-old Canucks forward, who played three seasons with the Canadiens, returned to the Bell Centre Monday night, but was unable to play because of an injury suffered, ironically, against Montreal in late October.
Even if Prust wasn’t as close as he is to rejoining the team, there’s no way he was missing out on a trip to Montreal. He had friends to visit.
Through the Brandon Prust Foundation (Prusty4Kids), Prust and fiancé Maripier Morin rented a super suite and hosted more than 30 sick and underprivileged children, treating them to food, beverages, gifts and an unforgettable hockey game.
David Desharnais scored the game-winner, but Prust was the most popular player in the house Monday.
He posed for selfies, signed autographs and waved when acknowledged on the scoreboard mid-game; Prust enjoyed the experience as much as the children did.
“I started the Brandon Prust Foundation through a program at the children’s hospital in my hometown,” explained Prust. “The children’s hospital has always been close to my heart, helping kids is important to me. They’re so great and inspiring and tough, so helping them is something I’ve always tried to do.”
Prust, known for his rugged, die-hard style of play, was a fan favourite in Montreal and his legend grew during the 2nd period on this night.
“This is the best night of my life,” shouted a boy wearing a red Canadiens jersey, clutching a signed photo of Prust.
“I wish you still played here,” said a young girl, softly, after meeting Prust.
Most of the children were too bashful to fully express their gratitude, but you could see the enjoyment on their faces.
“And that’s what it’s about,” said Prust. “Giving them a night where they can just be kids, have a good time and not worry about anything!”
Don’t worry, be happy!
The in-arena cheer Prust received when he was shown on the scoreboard was pretty overwhelming. Montreal loves this Prust guy and it’s easy to see why when he continues to give back to a community he’s no longer a part of.
That’s what’s special about Prust, this community will always be a part of Prust, even when apart.
Canucks fans have started to form an attachment to Prust, but his early season injury threw water on the fire. Luckily the forward will be back sooner than later, possibly Saturday in Vancouver against the Chicago Blackhawks, as the Canucks look for some home loving after a rough road trip.
Cheers from Winnipeg! My people!