Following appearances by Scott Gomez in 2009 and Michael Cammalleri in 2010, it was up to the Habs captain to represent his team at this latest edition of the event. Held since 2008, the “Tour” offers the chance for media from all around North America to pay a visit, and spend some time getting to know a few of the NHL’s elite players before they report to their respective training camps to kick off the season.
After an intimate reception at the Versace boutique on 5th Avenue Wednesday night, Gionta made his way over to the Prudential Center in Newark the next morning. On the agenda: 13 stops for the Habs’ No. 21, where he would be asked to put his acting and modeling chops on display.
The day started out with an on-ice shoot that saw Gionta sporting his full gear and Habs jersey in front of cameras from CBC, TSN and NBC, with directions to: “Pose! Deke out the goalie! Smile! Now look mean! ” coming at him from all side.
Next up, a series of interviews with a variety of national broadcasters. “What are your predictions for the upcoming season? Tell us about what an honor it must be to wear the “C” for Montreal. Do you enjoy using Twitter? Give us a few words on the Montreal-Boston rivalry.”
After that, it was on to a set of photo sessions to help promote a slew of new NHL products as well as the “Hockey fights cancer” campaign. And then for good measure, an improvised TV spot for NBC where Gionta played the teacher, demonstrating for the camera the correct way to tape up a hockey stick.
Between all the different sessions that had him traveling back and forth between the four corners of the Prudential Center labyrinth, it became obvious that Gionta’s two seasons at the arena during his time with with New Jersey had not been forgotten. All kinds of Devils’ staff, from security guards to maintenance, made sure to greet the team’s former No. 14 as he passed by.
After a well deserved night of rest it’s back to work for Gionta as the event moves to the heart of Manhattan where nine new interviews await the Habs’ captain on Friday.
Alexandre Harvey is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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