Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Life as a Habs fan.

Call it laziness if you will but really when it comes down to it, I haven't had really much to say lately. Mainly because I really didn't want to rehash everything that virtually everyone else has talked about. Sure, I could have blogged about how the hit on Max was so vile and gone unpunished. Or, I could have talked about how the Bruins have taken every opportunity to stomp on MY Canadiens in the media. Really though I really doubt that would serve any justice.

Last night I stared at the ceiling in bed listening to the dog snore, I began to remember what it has been like to be a fan of Les Canadiens de Montreal.

My earliest recollections as a child were Saturday nights in front of the Television with my Dad hearing the voice of Danny Gallavan as he described Le Demon blond streaking down the wing taking a pass from Steve Shutt. The Forum faithful dressed in their Sunday best cheering and screaming; Their butts just millimeters from the edge of their seats.

In the 70's, Les Glorieux were just that, God's chosen. No matter what opponent they were to play, no matter what obstacle placed in front of them. My Habs always found a way to win. Sam Pollack was a Genius, trading for that pick who would turn out to be Guy Lafleur. It wasn't only him that made the Habs of the 70's great. Sure he could skate on water but so could the rest of the team. The water was frozen silly! There have been many great teams since then but no one could ever come close to that dynasty of the 70's.. yes not even the Oilers of the 80's.

After their cup in 79, my family had moved overseas to Germany where my Dad was posted. That was a complete shock to the system for a young Habs fan. Hockey to me was the only thing to do in winter. It was what you looked forward to come October and longed for in the long summer months while playing road hockey out in the sun with friends. In Germany, all they knew was soccer. Only fitting that I would become a fan of another storied franchise, FC Bayern Munich. But I am digressing here.

I can remember at the age of 8, we finally got a TV that would allow us to pick up Canadian Armed forces TV. It was on a 1 week tape delay of course but when you are starving for hockey from home, you will watch games from 20 years ago if you have to. That tv never worked that great. It was a small snowy black and white and due to our location it was hard to pick out the puck due to it's reception or lack their of.

By the Mid 80s we were back in Canada. I can still remember the Good Friday Massacre as the media has named it. The brawl to end all brawls .. World Wars 1-2 and 3 in the same Hockey game. We were visiting my grandparents that easter weekend and I can remember my uncles shouting at the tv while I was in bed. I got up ran in to the living room and to my amazement saw the brawl.. I could not believe what I was seeing. As a kid, I remember there were 4 teams we were to hate and when I mean we were made to hate it was in our Hockey DNA. The Bruins, Leafs, Flyers and that other team from Quebec that we hated more than anything. I hated the Nordiques more than the others because everything we did in my eyes they tried to copy. I was 10 and as a preteen it was sacrilegious to even try to imitate the Montreal Canadiens.

In 86, We were in the playoffs with a rookie unknown goalie by the name of Roy. I can remember that year thinking to myself, if we could have the oilers lose somehow and we got in to the finals, the cup was ours. When we got into the finals that year, I wrote on my math notebook "Les Canadiens vont gagner La Coupe!". Of course you all know by some divine intervention and the blessing placed upon some rookie goalie named Roy, we did just that.

In my senior year of high school the Toronto Blue Jays had somehow made it to the world Series. I had pleaded begged and hounded my Dad for tickets. Sad thing is that he tried his hardest to get tickets but could not. However, Dads are great honorable men. He went to plan B. You see this was 1994, the year The Leafs led by Doug Gilmore had started the season 10-0. What Dad got us was 2 tickets to the first meeting that year between the Habs and the Leafs at the Montreal Forum.

There were many first for me that day. Being 18, It was the first time I shared a legal beer with my Dad in a Bar. We arrived at the Forum around 2pm that day and he suggested a beer. After a few beer we decided it was time to line up for that dash to our standing room positions. I have never ran stairs like that in my life. If only my wrestling coach could have seen how fast I made it up he would have been so proud being first right at centre ice between the reds and whites. Standing there at the Forum cheering on the Habs as they beat the Leafs 5-2, breaking their 10-0 streak. Vincent Damphouse scoring that last goal, a wrister at the top shelf where the peanut butter is kept.

In 05 I made another pilgramige to Montreal this time in the playoffs against the very same Bruins we are facing tonight. Like in 86, we had a young goalie who had the divine Blessing from above to steal that series away from the hated Bruins from Boston. If it weren't for Jose Theordore's heroicts of that series, I would have never been able to feel what it's like to be with 21,721 other screaming fans at the Bell Centre. If the Montreal Forum was a Cathedrial, then the Bell Centre is the Holy of Holies. There is no way any team can come in to our barn and not be nervous or scared. The Roar of the crowd is something so magical so mystical it makes even the most devout atheist question his own creed.

Now that I live almost 20,000 Kms away from this heavenly place, part of me remains there. I may have made a choice to move to Australia and a damn great choice it was. But every year between the months of October and May with my jersey and hat on, my spirit will always find it's way back to Montreal.

Go Habs Go!