Martin C. Barry
Officials from the City of Laval were joined by family members and friends of one of the greatest hockey coaches ever to emerge from Chomedey for a ceremony on Dec. 6 marking the official renaming of the Chomedey Arena in honour of former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Pierre Creamer.
A true son of Chomedey, the 75-year-old Creamer paid his dues while coaching the sport he loved. A specially-designed plaque, created by artist Olivier Gaudette, will now adorn a wall at the renamed arena and feature a short biography of Creamer.
Gradually moving up through the professional ice hockey hierarchy, Pierre Creamer coached the AHL’s Sherbrooke Canadiens (a Montreal Canadiens farm team) during the 1980s, while leading them to a Calder Cup championship.
During his career behind the bench, Creamer also coached the Montreal Juniors (1980-1982) then the Verdun Juniors, both of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Creamer helped lead teams to three President’s Cups while coaching in the QMJHL.
Although brief, the professional summit of Creamer’s career was in 1987-1988 when he coached the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although the team benefited from legendary Pittsburgh centreman Mario Lemieux’s scoring prowess, the Penguins missed the playoffs that year.
Creamer finished his career coaching the Laval Titan of the QMJHL during the 1989-1990 season when he led the team to a league championship. It’s also worth noting that Creamer made enormous coaching contributions to minor league hockey in Laval throughout his career.
An ‘exceptional career’
“Through this recognition, Laval underlines the significant contribution by Pierre Creamer to the community and his contributions to sports in Laval as a volunteer, administrator and builder, as well as his exceptional career, which focused national and international attention on his city of origin,” the City of Laval said in a statement on the renaming of the arena.
It was not the first time the City of Laval chose to pay homage to Pierre Creamer. He was previously inducted into the Laval Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989, then into the Laval Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Always based in Chomedey
Despite his ascent to the highest levels of international sport, Creamer was noted for always remaining closely in touch with the community he came from. For example, he has been a director on the board of the Caisse populaire Saint-Martin, as well as a member of the board of the Fondation du Centre de la nature.
In all, more than 140 people attended the renaming ceremony, including Laval mayor Marc Demers, several city councillors, Pierre Creamer’s son Justin, as well as former New York Islanders right winger Mike Bossy who is Creamer’s brother-in-law and who was coached as a youngster by Creamer.
Six decades of hockey
As Creamer recalled during a short speech, he started out in hockey nearly 60 years ago, in the park where the Chomedey Arena was built, as a local sports monitor on the playing fields.
Justin Creamer said that even though his father received numerous coaching offers that might have required travel and moving, Pierre Creamer turned them down as he wanted to stay close to his family in Chomedey.