For Utica Comets forward Francis Perron, this weekend’s series in Laval, Quebec, will come with a few more eyes than usual fixed on him.
“It’s a lot of fun for me, and a great moment to be able to see all of my friends and family,” Perron, a Laval native, said. “I’m excited to be able to spend some time with them.”
Perron, who was drafted by Ottawa and has seen stops in Binghamton, Belleville, and San Jose before Utica, didn’t get the chance to visit Laval while playing on the west coast last year. Now that he’s closer and playing in the North Division, the schedule has three separate trips to Laval on the docket.
That means for Perron, he gets the joy of seeing his family more often, which is all worth it. Even for the pretty penny he is probably shelling out for tickets.
“I’m happy to be back and to be able to get to see them a bit more often,” Perron said. “There’s over 50 at each game this weekend. I live ten minutes from the rink, so it’s all my family and most of my friends.”
One of the luxuries of a return to Quebec is the ability to speak his first language. However, having Vincent Arseneau and Guillaume Brisebois in the locker room has helped keep Perron sharp during the season.
“It’s always nice to have someone you can speak your first language with,” the fourth-year pro said. “Throughout the year you can forget some words and how you speak in your own language. It’s fun to have them here and we’re able to communicate in French once in a while. When we’re around the boys we try to speak English so everyone can understand.”
When the chaos of mixing and mingling with 50+ family and friends this weekend cools down—if it ever cools down—Perron can flick on the TV in the hotel and take in one of the channels he misses most when he is in the states.
“I really miss RDS (French version of TSN),” he said with a smile. “But I don’t think I will do a lot of TV in Laval. I’m gonna be spending as much time as I can during the visit.”
Growing up in Laval left Perron about 30 minutes from Downtown Montreal, and naturally, the skilled forward was a massive fan of the Canadiens growing up. And as a native of Laval, it might be a little strange for Perron to face his hometown team and AHL affiliate of his childhood club.
“Playing against Laval is a little different,” he said. “I know a lot of guys on that team and I know some of the staff as well. It’s always a little weird to come back home and play against the team that represents your city.”
When he takes the ice this weekend for two games against the Rocket, Perron will aim to go about his on-ice business as usual, but it might be a little more challenging than an ordinary game.
“The goal is to not be affected,” he said. “I’m just happy to be able to play in front of everyone. I’m trying not to get into my head. Even if it’s Laval, it’s a hockey game and I still have to do my job.
“I’m just gonna be a little more excited.”