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The bricks the Habs built

November 29, 2010

 

The Centennial brick that captures us all the best

The Montreal Canadiens’ centennial celebrations blended into a sort of blur somewhere down the line. Ceremonies, jerseys, stuff, a Habs wall of fame (or ring of honour, as it’s officially called), stuff, a Habs hall of fame, a Centennial game, stuff, the Centennial Plaza, a street being renamed after the Habs, stuff…

Yeah, it got nuts. Much of the stuff sort of disappeared after the Match du Centennaire on December 4th 2009, but all the crazy left a lot of cool behind.

The Centennial Plaza is so much more than just a big marketing gimmick, which I wasn’t alone in thinking it would be when the Habs first started selling all those bricks. I might be biased, but I think it’s beautiful. I sometimes walk over and spend my lunch hour there because the sun hits it just right around that time. It’s a place you can go when you get crazy drunk on a Tuesday and yell at the statue of Guy Lafleur because he came back as a Ranger, like my friend M has totally never done. There’s always a tourist or two hanging around there, and often the odd scalper (note that we at The Active Stick do not endorse scalpers).  There’s a lot you can learn about all the Cup wins and many of the players just by looking at simple plaques all over the plaza.

And there are the bricks that were built out of the history of the Habs and the experience of being a fan. Whether you spend a few minutes or hours looking through them, some jump out at you and stay with you. Always different ones, too.

Sometimes it’s the ‘ooops’ factor:

Which one?

Then there are the ones that make you go “Awww”

These ones just make me smile.

Wonder if they're still together. I hope so.

The WTF? ones are always fun:

wt t sy ths r nms bt ct b sur

Last I checked this wasn't the Hawks Centennial Plaza

I was there!

Rivalries and a brave dude:

This is also the earliest "Habs fan since" I've seen there yet.

No Leafs No

Representin' in enemy territory

And finally, there is this one…

The day I took this particular set of pictures, I was with metricjulie, who pointed out many of these bricks. When we happened upon this one, we just looked at each other and went “wow.” I’ve been wanting to post these pictures for a couple of weeks now, but I really wanted to know the story behind this one. It took me a while – I don’t know if I suddenly lost my powers of googling for a while, or if there just weren’t any stories about it in the Montreal papers, but I had to keep coming back to it until I finally found this one story in the Sudbury Star.

According to the article, Joe Laprairie was a devoted Habs fan from Toe Blake’s hometown (Coniston, ON). Although he’d seen the Habs play at Maple Leaf Gardens, he’d always wanted to see the Canadiens play at the Forum and never had the chance. At age 52, Laprairie had had heart surgery in Montreal, and was returning for a follow-up visit with doctors. Of course, he got tickets to a Habs game – on March 13, 1976.

From the article:

But as he handed in his ticket, Laprairie suffered a major heart attack. He died instantly. At 52, he left behind his wife, Juliette, and five children.

So heartbreaking.

Years later, the brick was purchased and dedicated to Laprairie by his children and grandchildren, and some of them were at the Bell Centre the day the plaza was unveiled. Amazing.

See what I mean about the Centennial Plaza? It’s just beautiful.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2010 10:16 am

    Fantastic. You captured exactly what it feels like to look all around you at Centennial Plaza and see what it means to love this team.

  2. Number31 permalink
    November 29, 2010 10:29 am

    There’s a couple of awesome ones… Like the “Shoot da puck Score da goal” one. And I think there’s another that says “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” People are awesome.

    I got two. One was my dad’s with the family name and stuff. The other was the one I got from the playoffs fan pack so I wrote a bunch of players numbers with a thanks for the memories since that was my first year being able to buy tickets…

  3. Mel permalink
    November 29, 2010 10:50 am

    That last one is so, so heartbreaking. Kudos to his children and grandchildren for doing that for him, it’s so touching.

    When I visited Montreal this summer, it was my first time visiting the Bell Centre and seeing Centennial Plaza and I was awestruck. Seeing all of that history and the love from the fans was simply amazing. I didn’t want to leave until I had read everything. You certainly did capture with this post what it means to go there and see what it means to love this team. Well done 🙂

  4. November 29, 2010 11:32 am

    Amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  5. November 29, 2010 2:59 pm

    No wonder peoples said there was ghosts in that old building?

  6. November 29, 2010 3:08 pm

    When I visited Montreal in 2009, I was in awe of all the bricks. I could of stayed there for hours reading them! (But unfortunately my friend who brought me there – at my insistence – wasn’t much of a hockey fan and I eventually had to pull myself away to save her from boredom 😉

  7. Jillian permalink
    November 29, 2010 6:39 pm

    it just goes to chow you that no matter how many times they run our team down, we will always have something more that you could never imagine. GO HABS! 🙂

  8. Number31 permalink
    November 29, 2010 11:48 pm

    Did you hear about the Devils trying to copy our Centennial Plaza? So lame… I blame Lou.

  9. November 30, 2010 6:24 pm

    Wow, what a sad story. I imagine it’d be quite the way to go, however.

  10. Harry M permalink
    December 1, 2010 9:22 am

    Great stories Active Stick.

    When does construction begin on the bricks that the Montreal Alouettes built?

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