HMCS MONTRÉAL, at sea — In this series, we will focus on hockey and its ability to unify Canadians everywhere, especially those who serve in our Armed Forces while overseas. To demonstrate this, sailors on the Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Montreal have volunteered to be profiled so that they can provide that unique perspective.
The subject of this profile is Petty Officer first Class David Gagnon. David displays his passion for the game of hockey and of the Canadiens daily.
Where are you from?
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
How long have you been in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)?
Why did you choose to join the RCN?
I am a third generation Marine Engineer (Mar Eng). My little brother is a Mar Eng, my father was a Mar Eng, and my mother’s father was a Mar Eng. It just kind of seemed normal for our family.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Successfully completing my Engineering Officer of the Watch certification. It is a very challenging package, test and oral board in order to take charge of the engineering plant of a frigate (a Canadian Warship) at sea.
How long have you been a Habs fan?
Ever since I was born, my father was a Quebec Nordiques fan, but due to a close family friend, I have been a Habs fan since I got my first set of Montreal Canadiens pj’s on my first birthday.
What made you choose the greatest franchise ever as your team?
Hockey in Quebec has at times been described as a religion. A city that is so passionate about a single franchise that it brings all walks of life together to cheer together for at least 60 minutes. I can only imagine the feeling of a player scoring the winning goal in a game at the Bell Centre. The atmosphere alone would lift you to cloud nine. 24 Stanley Cups has a lot to do with it too!
While aboard HMCS MONTRÉAL are you able to watch your team?
Yes I am.
What lengths do you go to see them while deployed?
If I cannot watch the game on TV, I’ll often find myself following the games on the internet, getting the most recent game scores while in progress.
How do you keep up to date on the team?
I check the internet for news and blogs in order to keep current on all of the events of the team.
Do you feel more of an attachment to the ship as the namesake of your team?
This is my first posting to HMCS Montreal, and I have been a Habs fan on all my other units, but serving on the ship with my namesake team does give me a larger attachment to the team. I adore looking at the signed Carey Price jersey mounted in a case in our mess.
What is your favorite Habs memory?
I have a few memories actually.
1. The comeback victory versus New York Rangers where the Canadiens were down 5-0 in the middle of the second period. It was the greatest Habs comeback in franchise history. I didn’t even get to watch the game, as it wasn’t televised nationally that night. I was tracking it online on NHL.com. When I saw the Canadiens were now trailing 5-4, I selected the radio feed on the internet and heard Alex Kovalev score the tying goal in the third. Then got to listen to the overtime and shoot out and listened to Saku Koivu score the game winning goal in the shootout. Such a rush!
2. When I was six and living in Montreal, my father brought me to my first ever Habs game in 1986 at the Forum. I still remember, it was versus Buffalo Sabres and finished in a 3-3 tie, Patrick Roy was in net, rookie year!
3. My first ever regular season game in the Bell Centre, March 2015, versus Carolina Hurricanes, a 4-0 shutout win for Carey Price. Got to share that moment with my brother and girlfriend. What a great night and atmosphere!
Why is hockey an important part of your life on the ship?
It’s a wonderful and entertaining way to pass time. Being the namesake city of the Habs, having a signed Carey Price jersey adds to the nostalgia.
Does hockey help you to feel more connected to family, friends, country while on missions/out to sea?
Habs fans tend to come together. On my last deployment, my uncle sent me a magazine commemorating Jean Beliveau. That made me feel closer to my family, being thousands of miles away from home.
Watching games while being deployed overseas proves to be difficult, if not impossible. When staying in the North American area, watching games is much easier. It makes me feel more connected to home, as watching hockey is something my girlfriend and I enjoy doing together.
Do you ever engage in some friendly video game hockey tournaments or other such activities on board?
At this moment, no, as we do not have a gaming station in our mess. On my previous units, it was a daily/weekly event, having friendly NHL tournaments on XBOX or PlayStation.
Why do you believe hockey is the greatest sport?
I do believe that hockey is the greatest sport ever! It is fast and it is elegant, and it can be non-stop entertainment! My family loves it and so do I. I may be a little biased, because I only have to imagine my son, who scored a hat trick on his birthday and was awarded the game MVP during an away tournament. That alone to me, makes hockey the greatest sport!
If you missed any parts of our series on the HMCS Montreal, you can link to them here: