Zeitungsbericht über Victor Gervais mit Interview
Nov 11, 2003
Veteran Gervais brings leadership to Pride
By DOUG REESE
FLORENCE -- Five years ago, Victor Gervais left North American hockey, primarily for his wife and daughter.
He bolted across the Atlantic, like many aging minor league players, to earn a better living from the wider rinks and thicker wallets of the European leagues.
"The money's a lot better over there. I got to see a new world and it was very good for my family," he said of the experience. "It was a good family life, that was the main thing. My last year I think we had 28 kids (of players) on the team. Everybody's married and has two or three kids."
But after a half-decade abroad, the pool of options had dried up in the top-level German DEL. And Gervais wanted 6-year-old Dominique to start first grade in an English-speaking school.
He made some calls to old friends, including Norfolk general manager Al MacIsaac, about work back in the States. And MacIsaac just happened to have an opening for a veteran leader on his team's new affiliate, the Florence Pride.
So Gervais packed up his life, left Frankfurt and prepared for a return to the ECHL, where he had last hoisted the Kelly Cup with the Hampton Roads Admirals in the spring of 1998.
Another move of several thousand miles across the ocean for his family.
First-year Pride coach Perry Florio worked with MacIsaac to bring Gervais' wisdom to the youthful roster he was assembling.
Now Dominique isn't the only one looking to him for guidance.
Not that he's trying to be a father to his Florence teammates - he's not THAT old at 34. He's more like a big brother.
"Being older like this, it's kind of good because all the younger guys come up to me and ask me for advice. I look after them," Gervais said. "If they want to come over for pregame meals, they can."
Gervais jokes about the age gap with his fellow Pride members, pointing out that if he wants a conversation with someone his own age around the rink, he has to go to Florio, his senior by less than two years.
The next oldest Pride player is their only other true veteran, Allan Sirois, who's still six years Gervais' junior at 28. The rest of the roster is 25 or younger.
For Florio, a coach without an assistant, his captain provides a "sounding board" and a valuable locker room asset.
"He gives me a good feel for the mood in the dressing room," the coach said. "If it's been a long weekend (he'll say), 'Hey coach, the guys are a little down today, take it easy.' Or, 'Hey, I think we need a kick in the pants and today's a good day for it.'
"Sometimes as a coach, you don't know what the guys are saying in there. And that's what a good captain is, a liaison between the coach and his players. He's not a tattletale or a snitch, but he helps me understand what the players are thinking and why they're thinking it."
And when the Pride need someone to show them how things are done, Gervais can handle that, too.
While he's 11 years removed from his career year - the season after he won the first of two ECHL championships in Hampton Roads - Gervais' physical condition hasn't suffered. At 34, he's still in the peak shape that allowed him to post 38 goals and a league-high 80 assists in 1992-93.
He's still readjusting to the North American hockey style, yet he leads the Pride with four goals, is tied for second at five assists and shares the team lead in points with nine. Gervais posted two goals and assisted on Sirois' game-winner Saturday in Florence's 3-2 victory over division rival Greenville - a sign that even better production is yet to come.
In addition to the physicality of the game that the native of Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, hasn't had for five years, there's the space issue. After playing on the European ice that measures 13 feet wider than here (98 feet versus 85), the Florence Civic Center sheet, which measures 15 feet shorter than the regulation 200, can feel darn near claustrophobic.
"Over there you can hold onto the puck a lot longer and make plays," Gervais said. "Here you've got to move the puck quick. There's always somebody hitting you and finishing their checks on you. Things happen a lot faster."
One aspect of his center duties hasn't suffered at all. Florio's eyes widen when he mentions Gervais' faceoff prowess thus far this season. The ninth-round Washington Capitals draft pick (1989) has provided the Pride with a facet historically lacking from their game.
"He's been about 75 percent this year on faceoffs, which is unheard of," Florio said. "You're lucky if you're 55, 60 percent."
And Florio anticipates his former on-ice opponent from his playing days in Johnstown will only improve as the year progresses.
Just a few years removed from the ice himself, the coach has no problems with the slight age difference between himself and Gervais. After all, while in Roanoke, Florio coached Greensboro goaltender Daniel Berthiaume, who's his senior by a year and a half.
The key is attitude.
"He's young at heart," Florio said. "He's 34 years old, but he's one of the first guys here every day, he always stays on the ice and he still acts like a 20-year-old."
He's even found new experiences in Florence, a city that likely frustrates his younger teammates for its lack of diversions.
"I've been hunting a couple of times - never done that before," Gervais said. "Golf, go to the movies, it's great. I love it."
So do his wife and daughter. And that's all that really matters.
Kurze Zusammenfassung in Deutsch:
Victor ist der Leader im Team, er ist Captain und mit 34 wesentlich älter als der Rest seines Team, wo die meisten unter 25 sind. Er erzählt über seine Zeit in Frankfurt und sagt, das es ihm bei uns immer sehr gut gefallen hat. Dann erzählt er über die Unterschiede in der Spielweise, das man in der DEL mehr zeit hat das Spiel aufzubauen und die größere Eisfläche ein Vorteil für ihn war und das in der ECHL viel mehr auf den Körper gespielt wird.
Außerdem hat Victor ein neues Hobby gefúnden, "Jagen" außerdem vertreibt er sich seine Freizeit mit seiner Family, Golf und ins Kino zu gehen.
Ach Victor, werd unser kurzes Gespräch in Schwenningen niemals vergessen, warst schon ein klasse Kerl, auch wenn ich erst sehr spät erkannt habe, wieviel du wirklich für die Lions wert warst
Aber bald ist ja wieder ein bissel Victor in Frankfurt
Gruß Met \"der Gaddesträßler\"