TORONTO– Max Lacroix is in his dreamland at the Hockey Hall of Fame this weekend, surrounded by legendary goalies, three of whom are inducted.
But the 19-year-old goaltender from Colorado, in the North American Hockey League, is not there because of Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Barrasso or Mike Vernon.
Max Lacroix is here because his grandfather, Pierre Lacroix, is also in the 2023 class with Lundqvist, Barrasso, Vernon, Caroline Ouellette, Pierre Turgeon and Ken Hitchcock. He is inducted posthumously in the Manufacturers category, and it is up to Max to deliver the induction speech for his late “best friend” on Monday.
“I volunteered,” said Max Lacroix.
Lacroix, who will play at Boston University next year, wanted to do this for his grandfather. They were close before Pierre Lacroix, a player agent turned general manager who built the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup championship teams in 1996 and 2001, died on Dec. 13, 2020.
Max also spoke at Pierre’s funeral.
“When my grandfather was around, he always said I would write the speech for him,” Max said. “Now that he’s passed away, we thought it would be nice for all of us to do our part.”
Lacroix’s widow, Colombe, participated in the ceremonial puck drop before the Hockey Hall of Fame game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames on Friday at Scotiabank Arena. Hours earlier, Eric Lacroix, Max’s father and former NHL player, accepted Pierre’s Hall of Fame ring on his father’s behalf.
Martin Lacroix, Eric’s brother, wrote the induction speech that Max will deliver on Monday.
“At an event like this, it’s more of a thank you speech,” Max said. “It’s just to thank everyone who helped him to be here today. We’re very proud of him. It’s amazing to be with all these great hockey legends. It’s a weekend- special end.”
Max said he practiced the speech “many times.” He is comfortable speaking in public, having spoken at his high school graduation and Pierre’s funeral.
“He’s excited,” said Éric Lacroix. “He’s a goalie and this is the year of the goalie. He lives for these things. He’ll do more than well.”
Max’s goal on Monday is to be able to finish his speech without his emotions getting the better of him.
“I hope I can hold on,” he said. “I also spoke at his funeral. There were probably about 300 people there and it was also broadcast live. I actually did really well. I hope I do as good as there. You want to keep it going. To honor him on Monday, I think it’s important to go through it all and smile, because he wants us to enjoy everything.”