Kevin Poulin | Mileage in the body

Kazakhstan, Croatia, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden… Kevin Poulin has seen some of the country for the past five years. But next season, he’ll put on the Laval Rocket uniform. The Quebecer is back home.

The goalie signed a one-year, one-part deal with the Rocket last week.

“The only team to which I would have said yes to come back is Laval,” said the cerberus in an interview with Press.

“Playing in Quebec, it’s been since junior that I haven’t done that, except against the Canadian,” he adds. It will be fun to play in front of my family, my friends and the Quebec fans. It will be a great experience. ”

At 31, Poulin has many years of professional hockey in his pads.

Choice of 5e tour of the New York Islanders in 2008, he played 50 games in the NHL and 156 in the American League until 2015. He was then claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning, who relegated him to the Crunch of Syracuse before trading it to the Calgary Flames. They then assigned him to their school club in Stockton, where he played 29 games.

In fact, travel, in just a few months. And at the time, his wife was pregnant with their second child.

“I said to myself: ‘It’s too complicated, I need stability,’ he recalls. With Europe, there are no ups and downs. You arrive at a place one year, you stay there all year. ”

Thus, in 2016, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean to begin another chapter of his career. First stop: Kazakhstan.

From one city to another

There, Poulin wore the colors of the Barys club, in the Continental Hockey League (KHL), one of the best leagues in the world.

“It is certain that, for Kazakhstan, it [sa femme] asked me the question a few times: “Are you sure there?” It was still hard to go and play there because we had just had our second child. You have a 3 month old child and you are moving to Kazakhstan, you have no family, no friends… It was something. But I really liked it, ”he says.

It is rather rare for an imported goalkeeper to play several seasons on the same team, he explains. So every year he would sit down with his agent to decide what his new destination would be.

In 2017-18, Poulin played in Croatia and Switzerland, before moving to Germany the following season.

In Berlin, it was amazing. We see Berlin in a way here, but when you experience it, that you’re there, it’s a whole other world. There is so much history there. We really enjoyed it.

Kevin poulin

“They love hockey, it’s like a big party,” he recalls. It drinks beer, it’s festive during the matches. We had a nice arena of about 10,000 people, and it was full. There is always a section for super fans. There aren’t even any benches. They are on their feet the whole game. They have flags, drums, loudspeakers… ”

The masked man was also part of the national team which won the Spengler Cup in 2017, then bronze at the Olympic Games in 2018. “Unrealistic” experiences, he says.

PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, PRESS ARCHIVES

Kevin Poulin at the PyeongChang Olympics

The following year, he got a tryout with the Detroit Red Wings’ school club, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for whom he kept goals three times. Then, in February 2020, he hit it off with the Los Angeles Kings. He played four games with affiliate club Reign of Ontario before the pandemic put an end to the campaign.

Then we come to the season that just ended, when he returned to Europe. In Sweden, more precisely.

“The big advantage of playing in Sweden was that there were no restrictions on COVID-19. We lived a normal life there. So we got away from it all a bit at the same time. ”

A veteran

Poulin has returned to Quebec with his wife and two children since May 17th. The Montrealer had received offers in Europe, but opted for the Rocket. However, he does not know what his role will be. Logically, he should be the second of the young Cayden Primeau.

“Right now, there are so many ‘ifs’ and ‘we will see’ that for me, right now, my goal is to train, to arrive healthy, ready to play. As a player, we don’t have a decision [à prendre]. The only thing you can control, it’s boring to say, but it’s to get ready.

“The only thing they told me was that they wanted to have an experienced goalie in the minors,” he continues. This is where we are. ”

Montreal or Tampa Bay?

During his junior internship with the Victoriaville Tigres, from 2006 to 2010, Poulin rubbed shoulders with two players we have heard a lot about lately: Phillip Danault and Yanni Gourde. One plays for the Montreal Canadiens, the other for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two face off in the Stanley Cup Final right now. Is he surprised at their respective progress?

“If you had told me that when I was a junior, I would have been surprised, especially for Yanni Gourde,” he admits. He’s a guy who was on the fourth row, he was in and out of the lineup. He had to work hard. Again, he has never changed: he is a guy who works hard, he puts the team forward, he will do everything to win.

“Same thing for Danault,” he continues. But he had a little more natural talent. It’s a first-round pick. I saw he had great potential when he was 16. ”

So, for whom does Poulin take in this series, he who also belonged to the two finalist organizations? The choice is easy.

“I’m a guy from Montreal, I grew up in Montreal, I just signed with Laval. So, of course, I very much hope that Montreal will win. ”

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