“If I hadn’t made those changes, I don’t know where I would be today. »
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
Émile Poirier is happy.
Sounds trivial like that, doesn’t it? And yet. The new Laval Rocket forward hasn’t always been happy in recent years.
A first-round pick of the Calgary Flames in the 2013 draft, Poirier had a strong professional start before his drinking problems hit him in 2017. He left the Flames’ farm club for “personal reasons in March of that year. The following fall, he disclosed his media addiction issues.
Five years later, Émile Poirier is happy. Finally.
My whole life needed a change. I didn’t want to live my life that way anymore. I have taken the necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen again.
The friendly 27-year-old athlete is serene as he speaks with The Press of this period of his life.
“It is sure that it will last all my life, this fight, he nevertheless maintains. But the difficult past is behind me and I have been looking ahead for a long time. I grew up from that. I needed that at the time, but it’s been great since then. »
No more long plane trips
Today, he is the father of twin girls. He has just had a good season in Europe. And he recently agreed on the terms of a one-year contract with the club-school of the Canadian, the team of his hometown. The Montrealer is therefore back in Quebec. No more plane trips of more than seven hours.
When the pandemic broke out in 2020, Émile Poirier was playing for the Manitoba Moose, the Winnipeg Jets’ school club. Rather than wait for the resumption of American League activities – which did not come until February 2021 – he decided to go play in Slovakia.
“I was advised to play at least a little so as not to spend a full year without playing at 25, he explains. I went to Slovakia alone for two months, no family, nothing. There, everything was closed. There were no restaurants open. I really didn’t like my experience, but at the same time, it opened the door for me for the following year. »
In 2021-2022, he signed an agreement with the Dynamo of Riga, in Latvia, in the KHL. He was having a strong 18-point season in 39 games when the League decided to end its campaign in February as COVID-19 raged in Russia.
Poirier therefore returned to Quebec, before crossing the Atlantic again, heading to Sweden, where he played with Djurgårdens IF until the end of the season.
“That’s a lot of traveling with a young family,” he notes. We went twice with young children to Europe. It took us a little break, I think ! »
Come back to the country
After his good season in the KHL, the Quebecer received offers from “everywhere” in Europe, but nothing that was worth moving his family again. So he had the idea to test the waters with the Rocket.
As they say: you are never better served than by yourself. Poirier made a phone call to a friend, also a players’ agent. And it was done.
All my friends, my parents, the family… It’s going to be the fun, I will see them ! It’s been nine years since I played professionally and I left. Looks like I don’t realize it yet. Looks like I’m still waiting for the moment when I [vais prendre l’avion pour partir].
Back in the American League, therefore, for Poirier, who has 145 points in 299 career games on the circuit. His two-way deal only ties him to the Rocket for one season.
The forward has already had “a good conversation” with Rocket vice-president of hockey operations John Sedgwick about the expectations of him.
“I have to come ready. At my age, I know what I can do and what I can contribute. I just want to prove that I’m still at a very good level. I’m just 27. […] I come to camp with a lot of confidence and I’m ready to have a big role with the Rocket. »
But first of all, he will have to find accommodation in Laval, he who has lived in Gatineau for a few years. In today’s market, let’s say it can be laborious. “It’s not like the last time I stayed in Montreal! “, he says, laughing.