With the NHL lockout grinding through its fourth month, Montreal Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges looked to an unusual source to find his next hockey game: Twitter.
Gorges, 28, extended an open invitation to his 23,000-plus followers on Twitter to join him at a Montreal rink Wednesday afternoon, during the Boxing Day holiday.
Fans responded in droves.
Dozens of players, ranging widely in age and skill level, packed into a rink in the city’s Verdun neighborhood for a chance to skate alongside an NHL player.
“I haven’t played outdoors in a long time, but I figured we’ve got some time and I’ve got nothing else to do,” Gorges told reporters during a break from the game. “I was just looking to skate outdoors and I threw it out there on Twitter and so many people were asking where I’d go play. So I thought, ‘Why not set a time and place and we’ll all come and play?’ ”
The event comes two days after the NHL lockout reached its 100th day. One fan who joined Gorges on the ice said he appreciated his effort to reach out to fans after months of frustration.
“I really respect what he did for the fans and I know he cares about his relationship with the community,” said David Stein, 19. “I got to basically live out a dream here playing with one of my favorite players on the Montreal Canadiens. It was really a special day.”
Amar Boudjerida, a 25-year-old who suited up to play goalie, headed to the rink not knowing about Gorges’ invitation — and ended up having a lot more company than expected.
Boudjerida said he also appreciated the gesture, but remains disgruntled over the dispute between NHL players and owners.
“I think it’s pretty insulting for the fans that they’re in a lockout based on how to spend our money, bottom line,” he said.