In the midst of the longest home stand, the Bears' locker room welcomed another new player. 30-year old Canadian, Alexandre Bolduc landed in Zagreb just before the game with Barys Astana. He made his first jump over to Europe this year after establishing himself as an aggressive two-way player in the AHL with 65 NHL games under his belt. Right before signing with Traktor Chelyabinsk he served as captain of the Portland Pirates and had one of the most successful seasons of his career (52 points).
On a personal note, Bolduc grew up in Montreal surrounded by hockey, and as he says:“It was never a question of will I play. I was just lucky enough to make it into a career.“ Family comes first in Bolduc's life, especially after his father who had a big influence on him, passed away too early. „It was a horrible experience at the time, but it makes you grow up really fast. I was 21 and my brother was 17. It made me more responsible and it brought the whole family closer.“
A new leaf turned when he turned 30 and came over to the KHL.
"It was exciting coming over to the KHL. It was something I planned on doing. In the last few years I was thinking of coming over and it's been fun. Living in Russia was a new experience. It was something completely new, but I had a lot of people helping me out and with time you get used to it."
How much did you know about Medvescak before deciding to come here?
"Medvescak is a good team. They are a good-coached team, they are a hard working team. I was excited to get the call. I've played with Gilbert Brule, Colby Genoway and Stefano Giliati, so I knew a lot of guys already which is awesome. I've talked to them before coming here and they had nothing but good things to say about the city and the team. It made my decision to come here pretty easy and I'm excited for the opportunity.
This team likes to play physical and is not afraid of sticking up for each other. Will you fit right in?
„I'd say I will. I used to fight a lot when I was younger, but I don't go looking for it anymore. Of course, if something happens I won't hesitate. Just like this whole team does and sticks up for each other. I could tell just by watching the first game, and now with spending sometime with the guys, they're a really tight nit group and it's nice to see and be a part of it. A team that sticks together is always going to win in the end.
What can you bring to this team?
„I've got to play my style. I think I should fit in well, with having a North American coach and GM. I'll play my game, play hard and play wherever the coach wants me. Team comes first in my books. I've been a captain for the last three years in North America, so I can use that experience and help this team keep winning. Whatever the coach wants me to do, I'll do – playing on the forth line or the first line, wherever. I just hope to help the team and score some goals. I like to score, I did that a lot in North America.“
If you like to score, what was your favourite goal?
I'd have to say my first NHL goal. That memory will stay with me forever.
And the highlight of your career so far?
It's the Stanley Cup Finals when I was playing for Vancouver Canucks. Just to be in the playoffs is something I will always remember, but going to the Final itself and playing, that was pretty memorable and exciting. It was a tough loss in the end. As your career goes on, you really see what it takes to get there and how hard it is.
Who was the coach who influenced you most?
I've had a lot of good coaches. One of my favourites was Scott Arniel when I was in Manitoba. He was the one who coached me when I got called up to the NHL and he helped me become a better player. He was good at making me play the right way and taught me not to cheat defensively. You have to play right defensively first and that will lead to offense.
You grew up in Montreal, so hockey was always a part of life?
It's what you do in Montreal. It's what all your friends do. Since I was 4 years old I've been playing hockey and I've been really fortunate to have made it a career so far. I grew up a Habs fan. My family had season tickets, so it was a tradition to go together and cheer them on. I went to the last game at the Forum with my dad. So, in a way I'll always be a Habs fan. Montreal must be going crazy right now.
Do you stay in Montreal during summer?
I opened up a gym with my trainer and partner last year in Montreal, so I stay there. It's a good feeling to open up a business and help younger athletes. We have a lot of younger hockey players, and some football players. It's nice to get them ready and help them become faster and stronger.
What's your favourite summer pastime?
My dad got me into drag racing. When I was young I used to go and watch him race and I just kind of got into it. I have a couple of friends who have muscle cars and during the summer we all do it together. It's a fun experience and it get's the adrenaline going.