They come to play, they stay for the lifestyle

Patrick Lalime is home. Oh sure, his actual hometown is Drummondville, Que., but after guarding the goal for the Senators for four-and-a-half seasons, Ottawa earned a special place in his heart.


BY LISA WALLACE

Patrick Lalime is home. Oh sure, his actual hometown is Drummondville, Que., but after guarding the goal for the Senators for four-and-a-half seasons, Ottawa earned a special place in his heart.

So when he announced his retirement this summer and he and his family sat down to discuss where to settle after hockey — after all, his NHL career also took him to Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Chicago and Buffalo — Ottawa was at the top of the list.

The Lalimes are far from alone. Many former Senators players who grew up elsewhere have decided to remain in Ottawa after their retirement, saying they like the city’s size and they formed deep attachments to the community they did not want to give up.

“We talked about moving back to Quebec,” Lalime says. “We have family there and we have a great house there, but we liked the idea of coming back to Ottawa and this way we’re really not that far from family.

“It was really hard on us when we had to leave Ottawa. We were really happy here so it feels good to be back here.”

Lalime’s two oldest daughters Liliana, 9, and Rosemary, 7, were born in Ottawa. His youngest, Evangeline, 3, was born in Chicago.

During their time in the U.S., all three girls learned English, but Lalime and his wife Marie-Helene want them to maintain their French heritage, which a bilingual city like Ottawa can offer.

And Ottawa is not only a safe, medium-sized city, it is also big enough to offer an abundance of extracurricular activities and allow the girls to pursue any and all their interests.

For Lalime himself, Ottawa is the place where he had his most success. He played 283 regular season games for the Senators and still holds numerous goaltending records. Ottawa also gave Lalime the chance to do some broadcast work with the French sports network, RDS.

“We wanted stability for the family, but Ottawa also gives me opportunities,” he says. “I’ll still be at the rink and able to see some of the guys. I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be fun to be on the other side now. I liked the idea of having an NHL team so close by.”

Lalime is also looking forward to spending time with former teammates and close friends, Shaun Van Allen and Todd White.

White, an Ottawa native, has settled here and Van Allen, originally from Calgary, and his family remained here after he retired from the Senators in 2004.

“We just thought this was the best fit for the family,” Van Allen says. “We loved the people, we had great friends and the city just has so much to offer.”

Van Allen had played in various cities over the course of his career, but Ottawa always remained a special place.

“We just had such an amazing experience,” says Van Allen, a father of three. “The school system was outstanding, there were great sports for the kids and we had so many great friends.”

Laurie Boschman was one of the first to see the benefits of settling in Ottawa. Boschman, the franchise’s first captain, chose to make Ottawa home as he and his wife thoroughly enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and all the city had to offer.

“We thought we would try it for one year and then one turned to three and then five and then it was just home,” says Boschman. “The longer we stayed the more we got to see what the city had to offer. Ottawa is a beautiful city.”

Boschman, raised his three boys in Stittsville, isn’t surprised to see players choosing to return to Ottawa following the end of their careers.

“If anything I’m surprised there aren’t more players moving here,” he says.

Jason York, an Ottawa native, admits he and his wife considered settling elsewhere, but the benefits of living in Ottawa outweighed all else in the end.

“Having my family here played a huge part in the decision,” he explains, “but it was also the sports, the schools and even the winters that convinced us. I loved the outdoor rinks as a kid and now I can give my kid the same experience.”

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