Je vis d'amour et d'eau douce
Chapter 1-- Expansion Draft
I remember everything about the moment I signed on to play with the Habs. I remember my parents standing behind me, beaming with pride, as I walked over to Marc Bergevin and shook his hand, camera bulbs flashing as pictures were taken. I remember sitting down and gripping the pen, my sweaty hands shaking, as I signed my name and the date. I remember putting on a Canadiens baseball cap and my first official jersey, posing with Coach Therrien and the rest of the higher ups, a smile on my face even though I was freaking out inside.
I had been drafted 29th overall by the Montreal Canadiens. The idea still seemed like a fairytale. I was a rookie, I had only been playing one year in the CWHL before the merger was announced. To think that I, a nineteen-year-old small town girl from Baie-Comeau, was now an NHL player? The first and only female to be selected by the Habs, an original six team!
I remember seeing my old teammate, Hayley Wickenheiser backstage and breaking down as I hugged her close to me, not caring that cameras were watching our every move. She had been my idol since I could skate, and to play with her was an honor. Sixteen years my senior, she was like my mother away from home. It broke my heart that the next time we were on the ice together we would be enemies, rivals even as she was picked by the Boston Bruins first round.
“I am so proud of you, Ma chère.” She whispered, holding me close.
“Wh-what if I’m not good enough, Hayley? What if I disgrace them? What if--”
“Hey!” She snapped, pulling me back so she could look into my eyes. “Noelle Deschamps, you listen to me and you listen well. You were picked 29th overall. First round, by an original six team! If they thought you would fail then they would not have picked you. You are one of the most talented players that I have ever met, on and off the ice. You’re kind-hearted, humble, and have a beautiful soul. I’m surprised you were picked after me.”
I let out a teary laugh, shaking my head as I looked up at her. “Merci, Hayley. For everything.”
“I should be the one thanking you.” She smiled, petting my hair. “You humbled me. I still remember that eight year old smiling up at me, telling me how she wanted to be just like me when she grew up.”
“I barely spoke English,” I spoke fondly, laughing at the memory. “That was the first sentence I learned. I knew I was going to meet you in a few months. I practiced it every day.”
“You still barely speak it with anyone but me.” She teased me. I laughed and rolled my eyes. This was true, I was not very fond of the way my voice sounded when I spoke English. “Listen, chère. I’ve got to go.”
I sigh, tears welling up in both of our eyes. “I suppose I should too. Who knows what Baldoin and Hugo are getting up to at the apartment.”
“Better go check on those mutts.” Hayley laughed, earning a hip check from me. “Goodbye, Noelle.” She sobered, giving me one last hug.
“Au revoir, Hayley.” I smiled, giving her one last wave before I began to walk away.
I looked down at my phone as it vibrated. I had a group invite from Whatsapp. The group was called GoHabsGo. Raising an eyebrow, I tentatively accepted it.
There she issss!- Josh Gorges
THE LEGEND! -Brandon Prust
The chat immediately blew up, making me grin. They had already invited me into their group chat.
Wow, you guys work fast!- Noelle Deschamps
That we do. Welcome to the team, Noelle! I speak on behalf of everyone when I say we are very excited to have you. - Brian Gionta
I am very happy to hear it. Very excited to meet you all :) -Noelle Deschamps
Well that can be arranged!-- Brendan Gallagher
Yeah, most of us are in Montreal, or somewhere near it.-- Alex Galchenyuk
Well, if you guys want to come over, I don’t mind at all! I haven’t had anyone over to my apartment but my brothers. I think I can fit most of you in my living room. As long as you don't mind dogs! --Noelle Deschamps
Many of the boys agreed, so I quickly gave them my address and told them to come over around noon tomorrow.
“The Plateau, please..” I smiled at the cab driver as I climbed into the car.
“You got it, darling.” He grinned. I noticed the Habs sticker on his dashboard. “Excited for the season?”
“You have no idea..” I sighed happily.