French connection: Vegas’ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare might just be the most interesting man in hockey

By the time Pierre-Edouard Bellemare arrived as a “rookie” at Philadelphia Flyers training camp in 2014, the French forward had already spent a year in medical school, served an eight-year stint in Sweden, teetered on the brink of bankruptcy and learned his third language. wholesale nfl jerseys So the fact that most of his prospective Flyers teammates had no idea who he was didn’t faze Bellemare. Neither did their incredulity at his relatively advanced age.

As he struck up a conversation — in French — with centers Claude Giroux and Vincent Lecavalier about the most recent world championships, Bellemare casually mentioned that he had played in the event for the first time about 10 years earlier.

“Wait, what?” Giroux blurted, after quickly doing the math in his head. After all, in 2004, Giroux was still playing juniors.

“Yeah,” Bellemare said. “I’m 29.”

Giroux and Lecavalier stared at him, stupefied.34

“At that point, I think the guys started realizing that I was maybe a serious player,” Bellemare says now. “Because [the Flyers] wouldn’t just take up an old player for no reason.”

Bellemare made Philadelphia’s roster out of camp. He was technically an NHL rookie — even though, by Collective Bargaining Agreement qualifications, he was three years too old to be labeled as such. And now the winger, one of only 11 French players to reach the NHL, is in this fourth season and an alternate captain for the Vegas Golden Knights. His path to that Flyers training camp — let alone to playing a key role three years later for a No. 1 seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs — is an improbable tale.

Now Bellemare and the Golden Knights, who rolled to a first-round sweep of the Los Angeles Kings and shellacked the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of their second-round matchup, are 11 wins away from capping their wildly successful inaugural season with the unlikeliest chapter yet: hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Bellemare was born in a suburb of Paris, the third of four children. When he was 6, his 13-year-old sister, Aurore-Annick, asked their mother, Frederique,official nfl jerseys cheap if she could play hockey. Bellemare and his 10-year-old brother, Geoffroy-Alexis, tagged along to her first lesson. “She was a little bit spoiled,” Bellemare recalls of his sister. “So my big brother and I were like, ‘All right, if she’s going to play hockey, we want to skate.'”