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The Story of Us: How I became a Montreal Canadiens fan

July 29, 2010
Full House

You'll see in a second

How are you handling your offseason, my four readers? Are you searching high and low for someone to boo? Are you setting fire to stuff and finding that it just does not burn the same? Are you possibly thinking RDS was a tad hasty in making Benoit Brunet go away? Are you insane?

Or have you just developed a little bit of a twitch, like me?  This summer has been pretty eventful in my personal life but now that things are calming down I’m… going a little nuts. TYPING IN ALL CAPS nuts. I’m self-medicating with my hockey memories, and I have some great ones. My favourite one is of the day I fell in love with the Habs.

As some of you know, I did not grow up in Montreal. I actually come from a land in a faraway place where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face, and did not move to Montreal until I was 18.

My parents were from here, though, and we spent a considerable number of summers and holidays here. One of my many cousins (my family is kind of like a clown car) had taped the entire 1993 Stanley Cup run and when I came to visit that summer he sat me down and made me watch it.

Every. Day.

All I wanted to do was watch Full House reruns but he was having none of that. Those were the days before I decided I could fight anyone, no matter how much bigger than me they were, so he always had the remote.

Patrick Roy Cup

All I knew

Ten-year-old me started seeing Jacques Demers’ big pale face in my nightmares, but over the next few summers, as my cousin made me watch those tapes again and again, Kirk became my dreamboat and Patrick Roy my hero.

Of course, living so far away in the days before the Habs’ every move was plastered all over the intertubes, I had no way to ever find out just how badly the years after Cup No. 24 went for the Habs. My only exposure to the Montreal Canadiens consisted of tapes of one Stanley Cup run. I just kind of sat around, confident in the knowledge that the Montreal Team Was Better Than All The Other Teams. For years.

Back home, I discovered two sports I didn’t totally suck at and kind of forgot about hockey. You can’t really aspire to be the female version of Kirk Muller when you have no access to an ice rink at all (yeah, wrap your heads around that, Canadian kids… I still can’t skate). What I did have access to: football and softball pitches galore (goalkeeper, outfield).

And then your Active Stick landed in Montreal. My first semester was an overwhelming mess of parties, term papers, homesickness, the demise of a high school relationship (and a friendship or two), and no time to watch hockey. Diva me eventually met a new boy, however, who took me to a hockey game on our first date.

That hockey game?

Saku’s return to the team after kicking cancer’s ass.

I don’t care who you are, if you could be in that building that night and not fall head over heels in love with the game and the team, there is something seriously wrong with you. I remember bursting into tears and having no idea why, cheering so loud my lungs hurt for two days and clapping so hard my palms stayed red for two more.

And of course, the Montreal Team Was Better Than All The Other Teams. How could they not be, if the Captain came back and they won the game and they made the playoffs for the first time in four years all in one night?

That was it for me. I read and watSakuched everything about the Montreal Canadiens I could get my hands on for the next couple of years. The lockout year was especially convenient for anyone who wanted to catch up on almost a century of history, by the way.

I guess I know a little bit more about hockey now (not really, I’m totally full of shit and you can’t prove otherwise) and I love my Habs even more, not less, than I did for those few games they played after I “met” them.

I am still not over the Saku being allowed to walk thing. He is always going to be the reason I fell so hard for the game, even though there have been many other reasons I have stayed in a relationship with it. People keep asking me what the big deal is about Gomez taking his sweater number next year. My answer is that I just don’t want Saku to come back to the Bell Centre for the first time to find someone else wearing a Montreal Canadiens No. 11 sweater on the ice. That’s it.

I met the love of my life (hockey, not the boy) when I accidentally ended up at the Saku comeback game. I also accidentally ended up at the Centennial game this year, as well as some other big games. Which is why I know, I know, one day I will accidentally end up at the game in which the Habs clinch Cup No. 25. So you know who you’re taking if you accidentally get tickets.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Roberto permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:56 am

    I remember trying to get tickets for the Saku comeback game. Unfortunately my wallet was not big enough at the time and after negotiations with scalpers fell through, I settled for watching the game at the Bell Center Cage aux Sports. Hearing and feeling the roar of the rink I would have killed to be in there. I did manage to go to the Centennial which was also a great experience.

    I will go skating with you anytime!

    (If you decide to fall back on your previous love and start a Full House Rerun blog, I’ll be sure to read it…)

  2. July 29, 2010 10:48 am

    Your story echoes mine quite a bit (though you were even farther away than me AND at least Hartford had a semblance of what hockey was). I think the biggest difference seems to be, why the hell did you wait so long to go to a Habs game? When I got to Montreal, that was like, the first thing I did (and probably went to about 20 games in those 4 years).

    However, I will say that the Return of Saku is definitely an excellent contender for Best First Habs Game Ever. When the buzz in the media said Saku would be coming back soon, I skipped class and went to the Molson Centre (as it was) box office as soon as it opened. It was a gamble that paid off, since I walked back and the announcement was made.

    Roberto — I have that same exact story for the game when Zednik got hit by McLaren. ActiveStick, this is how you weave a community together — EVERY Habs fan has a story.

    • Roberto permalink
      July 29, 2010 3:08 pm

      Smalrus – I was at the game when Zednik got hit by McLaren. That pretty much screwed us that year.

  3. July 29, 2010 2:16 pm

    I was at the 2nd home game after Saku’s return…does that count? It was fan appreciation night and I won Yanic Perreault’s game worn jersey. Got to meet him on the ice, got him to sign the jersey, got a picture of the team. It was pretty cool, but I was annoyed because the person in line before me got Theodore’s jersey (back when Theo mattered) and the person next in line got Gilmour’s jersey. I don’t even remember when I became a Habs fan. I think being immersed in Habsland, you just sort of become a part of the collective. There was no moment in time where I fell in love with the team, but the ’93 playoffs took my obsession and cemented it forever. I can recall just about everything from that year. I have the VHS copy of “Champs”, and I know it by heart.

  4. Number31 permalink
    July 29, 2010 11:43 pm

    I can’t skate either even though we used to go at least once a week in the park.

    Don’t really have much of a story. I was born into it. I wanted to be Patrick Roy but my parents said it wasn’t a sport a girl like me should be playing and that I’ll just lose all my teeth despite the fact I wanted to be a goalie…… Ended up chipping my teeth while skiing lol.

  5. July 30, 2010 5:37 pm

    Such a great story! My crush on the Habs started in 2008 and grew to full-fledged love in 2009. Maybe one day I’ll record that for the masses 😉

  6. August 1, 2010 3:09 pm

    The long, drawn out process of my fandom began on May 8, 2006 (and I had to go back to my old Livejournal account to find that one). On that evening, I was invited to the annual Snowdon YM-YWHA Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, where they were honouring the late Cecil Hart. As part of the evening, they brought the Hart Trophy to the event as well as every living member of the Montreal Canadiens to have won the award. At my table that night were Elmer Lach, Dick Irvin Jr., Red Fisher, Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau. It was like being in a some kind of sports dream.

    It might have taken me a few years to make the adjustment/have my life epiphany but that night set the wheels in motion for my eventual conversion. The proof is in the pudding (or in my case, the Beliveau sweater).


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