After 26 years without speaking to each other, former teammates and friends of the Canadiens have finally come together to collaborate with Uber Eats to launch the “Tonight I Will Eat” campaign, helping restaurants across Quebec as the province copes with the pandemic COVID-19.
TSN’s John Lu had the opportunity to sit down with the two Habs legends to talk about how the opportunity to reconcile has presented itself.
John Lu: Patrick, Mario, have you ever seen this day – sitting here together, reconciled as friends?
Mario Tremblay: First of all, I’m so proud to be here with Patrick today. After 25 years, it’s good to be together again, I’ll tell you right away.
Patrick Roy: It was fun when we got the call from Uber Eats. I was also a little surprised, but I was excited to reconnect with Mario and put this behind us, you know? It was a great opportunity and I can’t thank Uber Eats enough for this opportunity, for having the chance to see Mario and speak with him.
During the winter I was in Florida – we’re both at Quail Ridge – and saw him after a game at the bar. I was hoping to sit down with him, have a drink with him and talk about the past and (I’m) pretty happy that the situation is going on right now.
JL: So you were thinking about reconciling your friendship?
JL: And that would have been during the pandemic. What brought you to this place, to make this decision? Even if the Uber Eats opportunity made it easier, you were considering reconciling …
RP: First of all, I got tired of talking about December 2, 1995. I got millions of calls for comment last year in December (the game’s 25th anniversary) and I turned it down every time. call… I didn’t want to talk about it. It was behind me and I had the chance to sit with Mario and put that behind us, to sleep. I know it never will… but I mean, having the chance to put this to sleep, to talk together, was the best thing that could have happened to me. To answer your question, yes, it’s been a long time. We have a lot of friends in Florida that we golf with and I knew it was only a matter of time before we had this opportunity. But thank God, it happened through this situation. We had so much fun advertising. We had a lot of laughs and memories that came back. It was very fun.
JL: How was that moment when you first got together for this opportunity? Who spoke first? What did you say? How was that moment?
MT: It went very well. When Patrick entered (in Quebec) he was happy, he was in a good mood, “Hi Mario! People tend to forget that we were roommates together before I coached Patrick. So we had a lot of good times together, but that’s for sure – people are talking about that game on December 2, 1995. We had a good laugh when we played together – Pat was a rookie, I was a veteran of the team. We (the Canadians 1985-86) raised them with us – the kids there – so we had a blast together too.
JL: Can you share some of the dynamics of the nine-year difference between you – veteran and rookie – in Season 86?
TA: TA: When we were roommates, we had a bottle of Aqua Velva. When I was on a hot streak, Patrick would give me a little pic of Aqua Velva on either side (of my face) and say, “Alright Mario, now you’re ready. Go score goals! We had a lot of fun together!
RP: I think he was on a streak of about four to five scoring games. It was like, “We can’t stop! Let’s do it! But it was bad luck because Mario was injured during our preseason game in Sherbrooke. So he came back and started playing, and I think he got injured again in the middle of the season. It was tough on our team, but he was good to me. As a rookie that year he put me at ease. I think for all young players – especially newbies – you need some sort of mentor, someone who can show you the way. And Mario was a very good friend. We laughed a lot in our room. I remember we were in Buffalo and it was so cold in the hotel room. The phone rang for the alarm clock and we were all like that (arms folded across his chest) and we kind of looked at each other thinking, “Which of us is going to heat the room?” “
MT: (laughs) The recruit!
JL: All of those memories and experiences – is it, for both of you, just a matter of picking up where you left off with that 25-year gap between the two, to reestablish that friendship?
TA: TA: I would say so. The thing is, during COVID-19, it was good for us to get back together. And I hope that will help some family members get back together because we all know there are a lot of families who don’t talk to each other.
RP: There is a message behind it. If we could reach out to people and help them talk to family members or friends or sisters or brothers or mothers… we prove to the world that it is possible after years to come back and reconnect. The pandemic is tough on everyone. I think it’s important that people reach out to people, touch people, and help them feel like it’s possible to reconnect.
JL: What have you experienced or lost through the pandemic that brought you to this sense of reconciliation?
MT: First of all, when we got the call from Uber Eats… we were both very happy to log in and get back together. At one point in the commercial (shooting), not to mention for 20, 20 years, we are sitting right across from each other and looking into each other’s eyes. And I said to Pat: “It’s funny, we look at each other now, eye to eye for two hours and we haven’t talked for 20 years!” ” But it’s like that. And it’s a good thing that has happened to both of us.
RP: I’m just looking at my mom. She is confined to the house, cannot see her friends and it is difficult for people. I use the phrase “She’s nine years old on her back” and it’s hard for these people to think that they’re wasting those years. But at the same time, if we could bring a little of that into their lives and people could see us reconnecting, I hope it could bring them some joy. COVID has been difficult for everyone and it is difficult to come back. But if we could look to the future, hopefully we will all be well placed after that.
JL: It is difficult to recover a lot of small businesses, especially restaurants. The campaign that you gentlemen have undertaken is to help restaurants and by extension through the delivery service. How was this particular initiative very important to you?
TA: TA: I have the app for Uber Eats on my phone and my kids have it too. As you mentioned, it will be very important to help the restaurants. They have been through such a difficult time during COVID-19. Now is the time to help them out, call Uber Eats, make reservations, order food from our restaurants and I think it’s going to be good for everyone.
RP: It was easy for me. I am with a group – co-owner of L’Hôtel du Capitole in Quebec City, and we have an Italian restaurant in Quebec City. We never opened because the pandemic happened just before we thought about opening. So I know exactly what hotels and restaurants go through. It is important that Uber Eats help them and help all the restaurants. I think this is a good thing.
MT: I myself have owned a restaurant for 40 years in my hometown of Alma, Quebec. I can tell you that we have also gone through difficult times. The restaurant was closed, we lost a lot of money, but things are going well now that we are back in the orange zone and the restaurant has reopened. But before that, it was hard. It was not easy for anyone.
JL: People talk so much about the fact that the return of hockey this season was something that people could come together for and feel good about. But what we see here with you two reconciled as friends – how important do you think it will be and how will it resonate with the Montreal Canadiens fan base, for the province of Quebec and the fans. hockey around the world?
RP: I think it will sound great. We don’t control the way people think, but we know how we think and we are very happy with this situation.
TA: TA: I think people will be happy to see us both together. There is a time… (Patrick) a grandfather now, I’m a grandfather, it’s time to move on.
RP: Mario won the Stanley Cup in Montreal, I won the Stanley Cup in Montreal, so the past will always be a big part of the Montreal Canadiens. The story and the tradition of this franchise… that was very important when I was a player there and I know that is important to the fans. And I’m sure they’re very happy to see us together.
JL: Fans will never forget December 2, 1995. I’m not going to dwell on that date or that game, but when that anniversary comes – because people always remember it – what will that date mean to you gentlemen in the future?
RP: I hope people are going to say, “Wow, they reconnected. It’s cool ”, instead of just focusing on what happened. There is nothing more to say. I hope people are going to say, “You know what? It’s cool, they’re back together. They talk, they golf together, they live in the same community in Florida. And it won’t be a surprise to anyone to say, “Hey, are you playing in a golf tournament? Mario is there… ”You don’t go to the right, he to the left. It’s, “Hey, how are you? Happy to see you. I hope that is what will happen for people.
JL: Resuming your friendship – you mentioned playing golf – will there be family dinners as well? Canadiens Alumni Events?
TA: TA: For sure!
RP: Why not? The fact that we are in the same place in Florida, the fact that we are both former Montreal Canadiens, there is certainly a lot of activity. And I will be more than happy now to see Mario in these activities.
This full interview has been formatted and edited for readability and clarity.