Title: A veteran looks back

Sub-title: Victor Hebert remembers clearly the day 40 years ago when he joined the Dorval Old Timers. One major bonus: the league played in-doors!


During early December as Christmas season approached, Victor Hebert was in a particularly good mood. Every Tuesday during hockey season, Hebert drags his tired limbs and his seemingly heavier equipment bag to the Dorval Arena. But on that day he agreed to reflect a bit.


“It’s a great bunch of guys we have here,” said Hebert, who last year celebrated his 40th year in the Dorval Old Timer’s League. “And hockey is only a small part of it. We have as much fun joking around and shooting the breeze, as we do on the ice itself. The game has in a sense become mostly exercise.”


Things have come a long way since Dorval Old Timer’s League got started says Hebert, who proudly remembers his first day. “I was immediately impressed, In part, because, we finally got to play inside,” said the veteran.


“Officially the Dorval Old Timer’s League was founded the year the Dorval Arena was completed,” explained Hebert. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that a lot of us guys actually played together before that –at the Pine Beach rink on the other side of the tracks. Being able to move indoors was a big treat for us. We immediately doubled the league from two teams to four.”


“It was a gang of friends at first,” said Hebert. “Many of us had coached in kids’ leagues before so we knew each other that way. But it was tough too. It was a real garage league. It was only mostly “A” players back then. But we’d also often let in players who were far less than the minimum age in order to be able to keep up the skill level.”


A completely different game

According to Hebert the game has changed considerably during the past several decades. “We all wore a lot less equipment back then, so we had to be more careful,” explained Herbert. We kept our sticks much lower.”



That said injuries were inevitable. “We are all good guys. But something happens once you get on that ice. No matter how old you are, it’s easy to forget everything else,” said Hebert, who has suffered his share of cuts, stitches, bruises and battered teeth over the years. “You are supposed to play the puck. But when two 200 lb players are both skating full speed to try and get it, anything can happen.”


“One of the league’s biggest advantages is its diversity and the range of characters it draws,” says Hebert.


“All kinds of people get attracted to hockey. One player was so rough we couldn’t figure out what to do with him. So they made him a referee. He turned out to be a pretty good referee,” said Hebert with a laugh. “He knew all the tricks.”


Lots of fond memories

In addition to his involvement with the Dorval Old Timers League itself and his participation and volunteer work with the Dorval January Invitational Hockey Tournament, Hebert also helped out with the organization of various events such as the Golf Tournament (with long time league fixture Eugene Strati). He also participated at various times in league outings to Springfield and Cape Cap, -- trips he would have joined in far more frequently had his work commitments at Air Canada’s supply department, not been so constraining.


That said, over the years, the original veterans have been dropping out one at a time, a development that Hebert views with mild amusement. “I can’t figure it out,” he said with a laugh. “Guys are quitting in their 50s and 60s --- when they are still young. Me and Maurice Giroux are the only ones left.”


Peter Diekmeyer



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