Ottawa Senators defenceman André Benoit was raised in St. Albert and before his pro hockey career took off had a summer job in the cheese factory destroyed by fire on Sunday.
Photograph by: Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Sunday’s fire at the St. Albert cheese factory hit home for Ottawa Senators defenceman André Benoit.
Not only does Benoit come from the small community, but he also worked in the factory as a “summer job” before his professional hockey career took off.
“It’s not something you expect, to have a fire like that anywhere, so for it to happen at the cheese factory is a shock,” Benoit said after the Senators’ practice at Scotiabank Place on Monday.
“My first reaction was to hope that everybody was OK, that nobody was hurt. I think that’s the case. I don’t have confirmation, but that’s all you can hope for.”
Benoit has first-hand knowledge of what the place means to St. Albert.
“My uncle is a dairy farmer, so (the family) is involved in the cheese factory. I know the manager that was there and a few (other) people that worked there.”
Benoit says “it’s a lot of jobs”, but he’s unsure of what happens to employees now that the factory isn’t there any more.
“The building can always be rebuilt,” he said. “Just as long as everybody is OK.”
Benoit, 29, is a source of pride for the St. Albert community, a native son who went on to hockey stardom, having won the Memorial Cup with the Kitchener Rangers and the Calder Cup with the Binghamton Senators. Now that he’s in the NHL with the Senators, a replica Senators jersey had hung proudly in the factory. That, too, went up in the flames on Sunday.
“I guess I will have to get them a new one,” Benoit said.
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