The people of Saint-Narcisse, Quebec, Yanni Gourde's hometown, packed 10 buses when they flocked an hour south to Victoriaville to watch the last regular-season game he played in junior.
He treated them to a show. Gourde's team, the Victoriaville Tigres, handed out thousands of yellow T-shirts to salute his 2011-12 QMJHL scoring title. Coach Yanick Jean wore one to spice up his pregame speech. Then Gourde met the convoy's expectations, eviscerating the Shawinigan Cataractes for a goal and four assists in a 7-5 win.
"Racking up points," Jean said. "That's what he was doing that year."
Offensive punch was Gourde's calling card a decade ago, when he bagged close to two points nightly as a 5-foot-9 overager who'd gone undrafted to the NHL. Gourde was used to the snub; no QMJHL club drafted him, either. From humble origins, he became a Stanley Cup champion twice over, pestering puckhandlers and scoring in the clutch as the Tampa Bay Lightning surged to back-to-back titles.
It was no surprise when Macklemore called Gourde's name in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Two months into the Kraken's NHL debut, they're several points out of the Western Conference playoff picture, but Gourde's fit in fine. Coming off summer shoulder surgery, he's put up 16 points in 22 games while matching up against elite opposition, rising to fulfill his city's standards as he did in Victoriaville.