Friday, 8 November 2013

HABS-TOWN: "Bournival is raising a lot of eyebrows this season"

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely got at least passing knowledge of Chantal Desjardins. The affable girl from small town Winnipeg who made it all the way to big time Montreal to become a hit with local Media. 

Since arriving in Montreal in 2006, Chantal has been everywhere! She has worked on CHOM, CJAD and Virgin radio in various capacities. She's emceed many events. She's run for charity, she's dabbled in stand up comedy and most recently she's been seen on CTV Montreal Television hosting sports and entertainment segments.

Chantal holds a communications degree from the University of Winnipeg and a Creative Communications diploma from Red River college. Early on in her career she appeared as a guest on morning shows for Q94FM and BOBFM in Winnipeg before moving to Montreal permanently. 

Chantal has proven quick on her feet over her many years in Radio dealing with the likes of Aaron Rand, PJ stock and "Bad Pete" Marier. Not only has she held her own with some of their quick wit, but she has improved the quality of their broadcasts. Mike Cohen of the Suburban lauded her "amazing" chemistry with Aaron Rand, a trend that has followed her at all of her career stops. 

A constant running in thread throughout her career has been sports - particularly Hockey. From her earliest days in Winnipeg, to her current post at CTV, Chantal has been the Sports Girl, a title she's glad to hold as her love of the game an passion for talking about is is evident. Chantal is a huge part of HABS-TOWN and if you weren't quite sure why or how, this is the place for you.

What first got you interested in the game of hockey?
When I was five I wanted to be a ballerina, but it took exactly one dance class to realize that I had about as much grace as Elaine from Seinfeld and my mom decided that boys hockey might be better suited to my skill set. I’ve played hockey ever since and I still can’t dance.  

Is it safe to bet, that growing up in Winnipeg the JETS were your first hockey love?
I loved the Jets as a kid. When I was nine years old, my best friend had season tickets right behind the Jets’ bench. 

I should clarify - She became my best friend when I found out she had season tickets behind the Jets bench. Anyways, I swear that whole season, Tie Domi would wink at me every time he returned to the bench. Either that or he just had a weird eye twitch from fighting so much. Either way, that’s how Tie Domi became my favorite player (even now that he’s on those lame commercials selling long distance plans) and the Jets became my team.

Did your allegiances change to the Habs only when you moved to Montreal?
The Jets left for Phoenix back in 1996. I swear the whole city went into a depression. For years after a new petition would pop up every few months trying to bring the team back. It would get hundreds of thousands of signatures…and then nothing. So when I moved to Montreal 6 years ago, the Jets, and my winking Tie Domi, were so far removed from my memory that it was pretty easy to switch teams. And when I started covering the team for CJAD800, I got so wrapped up in the story lines that I found myself cheering for the Habs whenever the two teams would play each other.

How do you feel about the latest JETS incarnation?
I think Winnipeg getting the Jets back  is an amazing accomplishment for the city. The Bell Centre atmosphere is electric, but from what I hear, the MTS Centre in the 'Peg is definitely comparable. Now if Claude Noel can just keep his players more focused on hockey and less on tweeting pictures of themselves in Vegas surrounded by stacks of dolla bills...they'll be fine.  

Do you remember your first Habs game?
My first ever live Habs game was in 2007 after I moved from Winnipeg. It was an October game and the Bruins were in town, and the Bell Centre was electric.  They Habs totally dominated, I think they won 6-1, and the crowd went crazy every time the Canadiens found the back of Boston’s net. It was amazing.

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever?
I don’t really have a favorite player these days. Working in sports, you’re supposed to stay neutral, but if I had to choose one, it would probably be Saku Koivu. I love a good story of overcoming adversity, and his story is one of the best. I also had the chance to interview him a few times, and he was always so genuine. Sometimes that’s hard to find when you’re dealing with athletes making millions of dollars.

Where do you like to watch games? 
I get distracted easily, so if I really want to focus on the details, I need to watch the games alone on my couch. But of course, there’s nothing like watching a game from the Bell Centre. Watching from the press box is okay, but you’re so high up that the players sort of look like ants and since you’re supposed to be “working”, you can’t have a beer up there. The best is when you’ve scored tickets down in the Reds, $12 beer in hand…good times.

When you're not working, do you watch games for fun? If so do you prefer to watch with guys? with girls? why?
I do watch games when I’m not working, partly so that I can be in the loop the next day when I am working, and partly because I love hockey. I usually have a group of friends that will watch it at their place or at a pub. It’s usually guys who are die-hard hockey fans, but I have a few girlfriends who enjoy it too.

Do you have any pre-game rituals or in game superstitions? 
Ha, no I’m not that crazy. Maybe if I was on the team. You think I have a shot?

Maybe you do have a shot at the team, crazier things have happened. Matt Darche was 33 before he signed with the Habs, and he'd only played 101 NHL games before that over 10+ pro seasons. Of course there's always the Manon Rheaume comparable too, and even the Habs have called in Kim St-Pierre to practice with them before. As Randy Teiman likes to often say....."You never know"

Do you still play hockey regularly? You MUST have some pre-game rituals for you own games...
I play beer league hockey with the guys. A lot of them end up talking about their good ol' Junior days...back before they'd get an injury just from tying up their skates. It's still a lot of fun though, even if no one is going pro anytime soon. I don't really have any pregame rituals though... 

Many people may recall you spent a year working with a former Hab - PJ Stock. What was that like? 
It was loud. I worked with Pete Marier, and PJ Stock…both loud personalities. Put them in a room together, and it was basically like babysitting two kids. Two really fun, really talented kids.

Did you and PJ spend lots of off-air time talking hockey? 
Not really. Sports was just one part of the morning show on CHOM, so we spent a lot of time trying to think of different elements we could bring to the show. Like the one time a guy called into the morning show and said they’d gotten a ticket for playing street hockey with his kid. So PJ called up a few buddies and organized a huge charity street hockey tournament for the next day. It attracted hundreds of people and raised a bit of money for charity. He really used his “celebrity” status to help out when he could. 

Lots of people think PJ's a "HAB-HATER" and really a Bruin at heart, what do you think?
I think PJ just likes to stir the pot. He would say the pro-Bruins comments, which would rile up Pete Marier (and most of our listeners). I’m not sure if he even always bought into what he was saying, but it made for great radio.

When PJ was working on Team 990, I felt the same way as a listener, he's just trying to rile people up. It's shtick. I think he enjoy being the heel. (to borrow a wrestling term)


What are your expectations for the 2013-2014 edition of the Montreal Canadiens? 
I think having Therrien and Bergevin are exactly what the Habs have needed to rebuild a winning franchise. There are a lot of injuries right now, so if they can stay healthy, this could be the year. (Now I really sound like a Habs fan…)

For the moment Jarred Tinordi and Michael Bournival are with the Canadiens, do you expect them to last the season here, why or why not? What are your expectations for them?
Whereas Galchenyuk and Gallagher were great surprises last year, Bournival is raising a lot of eyebrows this season. He really seems to be holding his own as a rookie, and he’s making those around him better too. I hope he stays up for the year.

For more from Chantal Desjardins, follow her on Twitter @Chantalonair or check her out on the web at

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