(Boston) Hilary Knight joins us in the lobby of the Boston Sports Institute, training location for the new Boston women’s team. She just finished a 45-minute gym session, preceded by an hour-long ice workout.
This is their new reality, for her and her teammates. On weekdays, the team travels to this beautiful building located in the suburbs of Boston, about 40 minutes from downtown. There are two ice rinks, a swimming pool, a synthetic field, an athletics track, a large gym and a fitness center with sports therapists. The total, that is. It is not for nothing that Patrice Bergeron chose this place to train since his retirement…
” Good morning ! Hi! », says Knight, with a smile on his face, his hand outstretched and his hair still wet, the result of a shower which undoubtedly did the greatest good. On his shoulders, his United States national team coat.
After two long hours of training, the American star didn’t seem at all bothered to take 15 minutes of his time to answer our questions, quite the contrary.
Knight is the captain of the Boston team, which, like all the other teams in the league, does not yet have a name. The 34-year-old athlete also received his sweater, with the C, from the hands of Patrice Bergeron. Hey, here he is leaving the place when we are talking to Knight about this significant moment.
“Everything he did on the ice… it’s enormous and incredible in every way,” she said after greeting the Quebecer.
Qualities that Knight also seems to possess, from the outside at least. You should have seen her on the ice, two hours earlier; she clearly enjoyed training, without ever taking an exercise lightly. She was seen, pencil in hand, explaining a game to a teammate on the board.
Being the first captain of the Boston team represents an “honor and responsibility” that Knight struggles to put into words. A responsibility, yes, because this role comes with challenges. Among other things, that of building an identity and a culture.
So, how do we go about building this identity, when the page is blank? we ask the four-time Olympic medalist.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” she replies. In a way, it’s very easy because it’s exciting. Everything is new and you can blaze your own trail. And in another way, it’s a big challenge because you can be so many things. You want to be everything at the same time, but it’s impossible. »
In Boston, the sports history is masterful. But beyond that, the different professional teams have in common that they “work hard, have very good skills, never give up, never die mentally, play a very physical style”, lists Knight.
Take the Bruins. When you think Bruins, you think Bergeron. Brad Marchand. David Pastrnak. Zdeno Chara. “That sounds like players you don’t want to play against,” Knight says with a smile.
“It’s a historic club. And because he’s had this identity for so long, I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it’s already in place. So when someone new comes along, you already know what to expect. And you know what to expect if you watch your team play. From that point of view, it’s definitely a challenge for us, but at the same time, I would say their club shapes ours. »
In Boston, sport is booming. There are the Bruins, the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, the Revolution. That’s without mentioning college teams. Is there room for an additional professional team?
“Definitely,” Knight said without hesitation. “The season has only just started and people come up to me when I order a sandwich and tell me they are so excited. It just happens in Canada. This is something I felt when I moved to Montreal. »
Said team has only played one game yet – a 3-2 loss at the hands of Minnesota. The next one takes place this Saturday, in Verdun, against the Montreal team, for which it will be the inaugural local match. And Knight has every intention of crashing the party.
“I think it’s a natural rivalry, right? It was created between the Canadian and the Bruins. It will always exist. This rivalry between Pou [Marie-Philip Poulin] and me, I think it’s just natural. »
“I don’t think it’s a mistake that we’re visiting them for their inaugural match! »