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A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes


Four Stanley Cups, a Gray Cup and Canada’s first individual Olympic gold medal. These are just a few feats achieved by members of a legendary Montreal training center.

• Read also: (To see) The great history of the MAA Club Sportif in photos

After four years of reconstruction – the duration of an Olympic cycle, as triple Olympic medalist in short track speed skating Nathalie Lambert rightly pointed out – the MAA Club Sportif reopened its doors at the beginning of the month , “ready for another 100 years”.

“We tell the world that we have returned, we are here, we exist. It’s a brand new club, there’s just the historic facade, the windows and the stained glass windows which have been restored,” says Mme Lambert, now director of sports programs and communications for one of the oldest sports clubs in North America.

Pierre-Paul Poulin / Le Journal de Montréal

The Queen

One hundred and forty-two years of existence, it is remarkable and unique, and this is the reason why a little history has been preserved, including the entrance door, which dates from 1905.

“Lord Stanley opened it, so did Queen Elizabeth II, or someone did it for her!” exclaimed the president and general manager of the club, Pierre Blanchet, in front of a hundred guests who came to welcome the reopening of the gym. By my calculations, this door has been passed through approximately 15 million times. »

“Apart from the banks, there are not many Montreal institutions that have prospered for so long,” he added proudly. The club has survived two wars and two pandemics. »

It was falling apart

It is therefore with a nod to the champions who were members of the club that the building on Peel Street, in the city center, was rebuilt. The building fell into disrepair in 2018: plumbing, piping, ventilation and structural problems. The 80 Montreal shareholders therefore chose to invest millions of dollars – they want the amount to remain secret – after having already saved the MAA from bankruptcy in 1998. They joined forces with the Devimco Group, which is building a condo tower in above the premises of the luxurious training center.

The 2,500 to 3,000 coveted members will find and discover a club with seven studios to indulge in pilates, yoga, boxing, dance, cardiocycling, PowerWatts and aerial circus, among others, without forgetting a fitness room. connected fitness, an indoor rooftop pool, squash, pickleball and basketball courts, plus a weightlifting plate. Steam and whirlpool baths, sauna, sports clinic and restaurant complete the experience.

“I would have liked to train here when I was an athlete,” admitted Mme Lambert. We were at the Maurice-Richard arena and next to the Claude-Robillard center, and we were freezing! »

A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes

Bruny Surin can’t wait to train at the MAA Club Sportif.

Pierre-Paul Poulin / Le Journal de Montréal

Always competitive

Already, during the guided tour, Olympic short track champion Olivier Jean jumped on the stationary bikes. Marc Gagnon, five times medalist at the Olympic Games, including three times when he received gold, quickly joined him. The competitive spirit is never far away.

“I would love to come spin here,” said Gagnon, who is training to participate in the Montreal half-marathon with his partner.

“I don’t really like it!” he admitted. Let’s say that after 15 km (out of 21), I feel the full weight of my 190 lbs! »

A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes

Former speed skater Marc Gagnon

Photo Mylène Richard

If there was one who was bored while the club was closed, it was Bruny Surin. The Olympic champion in the 4 x 100 meter relay in Atlanta in 1996 lacked motivation during the pandemic. And despite his busy schedule – he who will be Team Canada’s chef de mission at the Paris Games next summer – Surin is looking forward to reconnecting with the atmosphere of the MAA.

“My body doesn’t allow me to run anymore, so I do the elliptical. I am interested in boxing, swimming and bodybuilding, a little less in pilates. Maybe a little yoga and I won’t say no to dancing! »

A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes

Former speed skater Olivier Jean

Photo Mylène Richard

Inspiration and prestige

Among the other Olympic athletes present at the reopening, there was Marie-Andrée Lessard. The former beach volleyball player has been a member of the MAA since 2000.

“I feel inspired, but I don’t ride my bike anymore. It’s over, the performance, I just want to stay in shape, ”said the director of the Games at the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC).

For her part, Sandra Sassine took advantage of the club’s facilities during part of her fencing career.

“It’s a prestigious place. History follows us and we want to take a moment for ourselves, to tell ourselves that we are worth it,” commented the manager of athlete marketing and Olympian heritage at the COC.

Her new colleague Émilie Fournel, project manager at the COC, remembers that she loved training with the MAA community, a contrast to her solo routine on the water.

“Today, I will be more interested in circuit training,” said the former kayaker. It’s quick and efficient, especially when you have a 5-year-old daughter, and you feel like you’re working hard. »

A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes

Nathalie Lambert, Sandra Sassine, Marc Gagnon, Émilie Fournel and Marie-Andrée Lessard, during the reopening of the MAA Club Sportif, September 7, 2023.

Photo provided by the MAA Sports Club, Ismaël Guénette

▶ Other personalities, including presenters Patrice L’Écuyer, Anne-Marie Withenshaw, Kim Sullivan and Jay Walker attended the reopening of the MAA, as did Dick Pound, a former Olympic swimmer, ex-member of the International Olympic Committee and former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A Montreal club whose four members won the Stanley Cup rises from its ashes

Richard “Dick” Pound, Nathalie Lambert and Bruny Surin

Photo provided by the MAA Sports Club. Ismaël Guénette