Leading the game against arthritis

Michel Lacroix commenting at a game

During the pandemic, we have missed out on many things we often took for granted. With large family gatherings, shows and most sporting events cancelled, we are forced to find a new “normal”. Like many others, Michel Lacroix, the Montreal Canadiens’ famous in-house announcer is also experiencing this.

“It’s hard and I miss it, for sure. There’s something special about hosting and energizing a crowd of 21,000 people. Hosting in an empty amphitheater is quite different.”

Needless to say, the NHL shutdown at the beginning of the pandemic significantly reduced the workload of the man whose unique voice can make the Bell Centre vibrate.

The 67-year-old took advantage of this hiatus to respond to special requests from Habs’ fans by creating videos for them on Twitter. From his home, in the midst of a lockdown, he awarded them the first star of a mock game or announced their names as if they had scored an important playoff goal with the help of their favorite player.

“I received thousands of requests, both from here and abroad. It kept me very busy, but I’ve tried to respond to all those requests.”

This determination to get things done in the face of adversity is nothing new for the man  who also commentates  professional golf and the Olympics at the Réseau des Sports, the French-speaking version of TSN.

In fact, what few people know is that Michel has suffered from psoriatic arthritis for many years. His motto when dealing with the pain of arthritis? “Bite on it.”  

Years of experience with the disease have taught him to view his work as a marathon, not a sprint.

“At the Olympics, we sometimes have 12- to 14-hour days of shooting, and we have to do it all again the following day. For anyone in good health, it’s very demanding. I’m careful not to burn my energy reserves too soon and I often find my hand twitching in the middle of shooting. I stay focused and deal with the pain. Funny enough, what goes through my mind in those moments is that I hope it doesn’t show on screen!”

Diagnosis - medication - care team: a winning trio

His medication allows him to control his illness and symptoms. Mr. Lacroix has nothing but good things to say about his healthcare team, with whom he feels very confident. He also had the chance to consult Dr. Mulder, the official doctor of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge  , when his first symptoms appeared.

“I had to change some habits to continue doing what I love. As a golf enthusiast, I used to play and walk 27-hole courses over and over. Since my diagnosis, I’ve limited myself to 18 holes, but I make a point to walk them. My score has taken a toll though!”

Turning to the Arthritis Society

The current climate has brought a lot of questions to immunocompromised people like Michel. To seek answers he participated in Arthritis Talks, an Arthritis Society webinar  on COVID-19, offered in the spring. 

“It was a great and timely event. I had a lot of questions and found a lot of good information”. 

He enjoyed the experience so much that he generously agreed to volunteer for the Arthritis Society, by hosting two subsequent Arthritis Talks events.

Thank you, Michel, for turning to us and for joining your voice to ours!

Today, it is our turn to award you the first star.