Former Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak, now with the St. Louis Blues, signs an autograph and thanks Mikel Diotte at Faiview on Saturday.
Peter McCabe, The Gazette
Fans began lining up at 8 a.m. for Jaroslav Halak’s visit to the Fairview shopping centre in Pointe Claire.
The event began at 2 and Jaro spent the afternoon signing whatever was put in front of him – Girls, control yourselves! – for $20, with all proceeds to the Ste. Justine children’s hospital.
Estimates of the crowd ranged from 1,000 (RDS’s Renaud Lavoie on Twitter) to 5,000 (Allan Walsh). The fan frenzy had Dave Stubbs, on Twitter, calling Halak “the Bratislava Beatle”.
One fan’s Tweet: Halak gets longer lineup then the iPhone 4. Take that Steve Jobs.
The event was supposed to end at 4 p.m. but went into OT (with no Shootout) so that fans would not be disappointed.
Lavoie points out that many fans had multiple items to sign – at $20 per, so Ste. Justine is a big winner today.
Walsh said that Halak was “shocked and overwhelmed” by the turnout of fans. Fairview had security on until mall closing at 5 pm and when the goalie was still signing at 5:30, he was told it was time to pack up. So he went outside and shook hands with the estimated couple of thousand fans still in line, posed for some photos, and finally drove away saying he had no feeling in his signing hand.
He and his entourage will be having dinner in Montreal tonight.
Not, we’re guessing, at Lafleur.
• Halak was low-key and gracious, as always, in his conversation with Montreal media
• Ticket packages on sale this morning in the virtual waiting room. Gentlemen, start your keyboards. And good luck.
• An online ticket broker is offering good deals on exhibition games.
• Arpon Basu on the Canadiens’ cap situation.
• Yvon Pedneault on Carey Price, who wil be “under more pressure than anyone else” in the NHL.
• Réjean Tremblay went down to Tampa to do a feature on Guy Boucher.
• Jean-François Bégin’s last sports column in La Presse. He’s the paper’s new sports editor.