“I had a lump in my stomach”: Gabriel Bourque and the Rocket players affected by the tragedy at the Laval daycare center

“I had a lump in my stomach”: Gabriel Bourque and the players of the Rocket affected by the tragedy at the Laval daycare

MISE & Agrave; DAY

Several Laval Rocket players were shaken when they learned of the extent of the tragedy that took place in a daycare center in the Sainte-Rose district.

Gabriel Bourque has four children, including two twins, with his partner. He was touched straight to the heart when he learned of the death of two children on Wednesday afternoon.

“I had a lump in my stomach,” said the Rocket forward. I watched the news all day. When I put my kids to bed on Wednesday, I gave them an extra hug to say thank you that they were safe and sound.”

His teammate Peter Abbandonato grew up in Laval. Even though he has no children, he is affected by what happened. 

“It's a sad moment,” said the striker. I want to offer my condolences to the families of the victims. My brother has a little guy he brings to daycare every day.

“I thought of him when I heard the news.”

A bus ripped through the front of a daycare center in the Sainte-Rose neighborhood yesterday in Laval, Montreal, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. In this photo: Flowers and stuffed animals were left in front of the daycare. JOEL LEMAY/AGENCE QMI

Dad of three children, including a five-year-old daughter, Jean-François Houle assisted his players. 

“It hits close to home. We have several members of our staff who have children of that age, including me. These are sad times. Our thoughts are with the people who have to go through this ordeal.”

A shocking drama

For his part, Anthony Richard became aware of the situation on television. 

“It's shocking,” added the Rocket forward. I thought of my brother who has a child who goes to daycare. All of Quebec is affected by this tragedy. 

“I even received messages from other players in the league asking if my child was attending this daycare. I was on leave with my mother-in-law. When she got home, the first thing she did was take her grandson in her arms and hug him tight.”

Dad of a little boy 10 months old, he thought of the first responders who rescued the children at daycare, but also of the workers in the hospitals. 

“When I saw that, I had a thought for the nurses who welcomed the children to the hospital after the tragedy. We went to the pediatrics floor at Cité-de-la-Santé this season and they are amazing people.

“For them too, it must be shocking even if it's their job.”

A minute of silence

The Rocket begins the last part of its regular schedule, Friday, with the visit of the Syracuse Crunch at Place Bell. For the occasion, a minute of silence is planned in memory of the two young victims of the daycare. 

We can expect that emotions will be strong in the stands. The whole community is affected by this tragedy. 

In the locker room, Bourque and Richard have launched an interesting project that they would like to set up. They would like to invite the children, educators and parents of the daycare to a party when the dust settles. A great idea.

Do you have a scoop for us?

Do you have something to tell us about this story?

Do you have a scoop that our readers might be interested in?

Email us at or call us directly at 1 800-63SCOOP.