Spending the pandemic to build a massive hockey card collection of NHL superstar Connor McDavid has paid dividends for a New Brunswick teenager.
Recchi Robichaud, 15, has nearly 500 hockey cards of his favourite player.
It's a collection the Baie-Sainte-Anne teenager started several years ago. But it more than doubled in size as Robichaud put in extra effort over the course of the pandemic — when he wasn't working at his part time job or in school.
Earlier this fall, the reigning NHL MVP caught wind of the superfan's collection.
In September, McDavid had a video call with Robichaud to invite him and his parents to Edmonton to watch the Oilers practice and play a game. And, of course, to meet McDavid himself.
Robichaud's dream came true this week. On Thursday, the teenager and his parents, Brian and Paula, watched McDavid and the Oilers practice at the Rogers Place in Edmonton.
"Seeing McDavid out there — oh my goodness," Robichaud exclaimed. "Everybody knows he's fast and that, but when you actually see him skate in person… you see how really fast he really is."
Robichaud said the rink was virtually empty, saying watching the practice was like having the entire arena to themselves.
"Watching a practice you really see all the skill that they have. And you really see how good they really are and how athletic and in shape they are — it's really neat."
But the excitement didn't stop there. Shortly after practice ended, McDavid paid the family a visit at their hotel across the street from the stadium.
"We went downstairs and Connor was waiting for us," said Robichaud, who had just enough time to sneak back to his room to grab some pucks for the superstar to sign.
Robichaud said the meet-and-greet happened in a lounge in the lobby of the hotel that was blocked off specifically for the meeting, surrounded by security and some of the Oilers public relations staff.
The meeting took about 15 minutes. He signed some pucks, hockey cards, a jersey — and gave Robichaud a signed stick that he had used in practice.
"It was amazing. It's definitely something that I'm never going to forget," Robichaud described.
"Eight years of collecting — all worth it for this moment."
Robichaud said it felt like a normal conversation with his hero, unlike the video call he had with McDavid back in September, when the teen was admittedly starstruck.
"He's such a great guy, super nice, you know, he's laid back, he's relaxed, he's chill."
Robichaud said his biggest takeaway from their conversation was an inspirational comment Robichaud hopes to apply in his own life.
"If you work hard enough for anything, you know, anything is really possible."