Born and raised until the age of 11 in Saskatchewan, I didn't have a hometown team, but from the first game I ever watched I knew there was only one team worth my lifelong admiration, and that was the Montreal Canadiens. From the moment I saw them take the ice with the famous CH on their chests I knew there could be no other. And to make a gut feeling turn into an ironclad knowledge, all I had to do was look at the net. I couldn't believe how cool these guys looked while stopping the puck, and for some reason ours was so much better than the other team's. He covered the bottom of the net much better, and could drop to his knees and get back to his feet in a split second. Fast, agile, competitive, and young, I'd just been introduced to who would become my favourite player in NHL history, Patrick Roy. In a few short years I watched my idol have (in my opinion) the most dominant playoff performance in the history of hockey en route to his second Conn Smythe Trophy, and more importantly second Stanley Cup. Things wouldn't last forever in Montreal for Patrick, as his fiery temper and a stressed relationship with a rookie coach spelled his end for the Habs during a game against Detroit. When he was traded to Colorado in a move that began Rejean Houle's decimation of the franchise a part of my heart was also shipped to Colorado, but I could never turn my back on the Canadiens. And it was a hard time to be a Canadiens fan, as Houle's disastrous trades of marquee players for bags of pucks drove the team to all new lows.
As my family moved to Alberta in 1998 it seemed that both geographically and emotionally I was moving away from the Canadiens, as disappointment year after year combined with the success of my secondary team in Colorado distracted from my lifelong obsession with the Canadiens. However something was about to change in Montreal, and as Houle was let go, there seemed to be a renewed hope in achieving the dominance of the past. Saku Koivu was an inspirational player to watch; small and talented, but vicious as a bulldog and completely fearless. His diagnosis and subsequent recovery from cancer was inspiring to any true hockey fan, and it inspired an extremely unlikely playoff upset of perpetual rival Boston. The passion had been permanently re-ignited. Andre Savard began to draft much more carefully than Houle, and there were all of a sudden some prospects on the farm. Soon after a legend was hired, and Bob Gainey came to much adoration with a promise to make the Canadiens competitive once more.
In 2005 I graduated from high school, and by complete coincidence my girlfriend of two years wanted to go to school in Montreal as her sister had done. We both agreed to go to university in the mecca of hockey, and it was a match made in heaven. Arriving in late August I made a bee line to the old Forum, I couldn't get enough of the history, and soon after I managed to get to my first ever Canadiens game. What else could I see but a game against the Bruins to initiate myself? October 18th, 2005 I saw Montreal battle back twice to take the win, their first at home of the season. And like a child on christmas morning I was beaming for days. The atmosphere of the Bell Centre was more than anyone could imagine unless they'd been there before.
Now the team that Gainey built has been blown up after a failure of a centennial season, and I get to fall in love with the team all over again as they grow and hopefully prosper in this new incarnation. I hope those who drop by here enjoy this blog as I will comment on the affairs of Les Glorieux.
Here's to the Habs!