QUEBEC CITY, Quebec — It might be famous for its fortifications, but Quebec City’s walls hold no metaphorical value in terms of its people, whose hospitality seems boundless.
Case(s) in point: the capital of le belle province boasts two Bruins as current inhabitants, and both Patrice Bergeron and Jordan Caron’s willingness to show us around their home away from Boston was yet another major impetus to our packing up computer and camera to head north.
Like their B’s brethren in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, both Bergeron and Caron showed immense pride in being from their province and went out of their way to make sure that bostonbruinsTV’s cameras captured the essence of their home.
And hey, let’s face it, after watching the Bruins Beat footage from Halifax, NS and Charlottetown/Cornwall, PEI, there might just have been a little bit of intra-Canadian competition brewing, too.
"I guess my favorite thing just for the city itself is probably old Quebec," said Bergeron, who was born in nearby Ancienne-lorette. "The way that we kept it as it is with all the history behind it.
"I’m very proud of that and I think everyone takes pride in it."
Although Caron grew up about four hours north of here, in rural Sayabec, that same pride in his Quebecois roots was apparent, as well.
"It’s a small town – like 2,000 people," explained Caron. "It’s a half hour from Rimouski.
"There’s a lot of farm, a lot of woods…there’s a lake; nice little houses by the lake, and you can go fishing - stuff like that.
"It’s always nice to go there and just relax," he said.
But the relaxing setting wasn’t necessarily apparent as Caron worked toward a career in hockey and he thinks his upbringing in the Quebec countryside led him to the NHL.
"Well, there’s not much to do [in the winter] except playing hockey where I’m from," laughed Caron about the less than nice winters here. "I had to drive up to school for 30-minutes, because that’s where my team was and then I went to school there.
"I was driving up in the morning and then coming back for dinner, so I didn’t have much time to do anything else than playing hockey."
Bergeron may have lived closer to the big city, but he also thinks that the culture in greater Quebec and around Quebec City certainly influenced his career.
"Yeah I think so. I mean growing up in Quebec city back in the nineties the Nordiques were a big part of our culture and hockey was a huge part of our culture," said Bergeron. "Now that they’re gone, the hockey culture and hockey community is still there; people still love the game it’s still part of our childhood.
"That’s what we saw today," added Bergeron of the many children who sought out Patrice and Jordan as they worked through their off-ice and on-ice practices.
"They want to learn and they want to improve and they just love the game.
"I think it’s neat to see that," added Bergeron. "Kids need that when they grow up –- is to have a passion and to have a goal and to go for it."
Big kids need goals (on and off the ice, too) and Bergeron and Caron made their desires clear both in their words and their actions on the football field and in the rink.
"I didn’t have the chance to play in the playoffs two years ago, but…I was there and I saw everything and it makes me want to be a part of it," said Caron. "It wasn’t fun this year coming back [home] after the first round, and it makes you want to go all the way again."
Bergeron’s smile, which had been omnipresent since the pair finished their workouts, diminished when he talked about last spring’s short playoff run.
"Well obviously there’s some unfinished business when you’re done in the first round and that’s something that you want to bring in your workouts and bring over the summer and try to work on things and get better," said Patrice. "You want to be hungrier when you come to training camp and obviously during the season.
"You know, it’s a long season but it’s something that you want to accomplish again," continued Bergeron. "Winning the Cup in 2011 was something very special, a dream come true, but once you taste it you want more and you want to relive it because it’s the best feeling ever and that’s the only feeling that you’re satisfied."