Friday, December 4, 2009
If you're lucky enough to live to be a hundred, you get a letter from the Queen. That's because a lot can happen in a hundred years and not everyone makes it. Generations rise and fall. Wars, depressions, technology, discoveries and dynasties come and go. Glory is transient, and anything that lasts a century deserves respect and admiration.
So, today is a day of celebration. The Montreal Canadiens were born in war and survived the Great Depression. They've seen owners come and go, and they've broken in five different arenas. They've entrenched the goalie mask, the butterfly and the two-minute-or-less minor penalty in the modern game. They've lived through the Spanish Flu and succumbed to TB. They changed logos, uniforms and players, and nearly folded at least twice. But, as happens over the course of a century, what started as an idea has became an institution.
The Canadiens are more than a hockey team. They are the inspiration for art, poetry and music. They are organic. The team exalted Maurice Richard, who inspired Roch Carrier, whose story became part of the childhood of millions of Canadian children and provided the backdrop for Canada's five-dollar bill. The team made Jean Beliveau a hero and he, in turn, used his celebrity to change thousands of lives through his charitable work and goodwill gestures.
They are in the hearts of leaders, professionals, children and bums. They unite people all over the world who speak the language of hockey and they symbolize a culture. They ignite collectors, inspire dreamers and animate memories.
The Canadiens have been called a religion, and a part of the fabric of Canada. They are indeed those things to some people. For others, they are a great passion and an eternal hope. Shakespeare said all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. In Montreal, the Canadiens are the stage. The players move on and off, but the team remains. We might love the players, but the sweater is what matters.
So, happy Centennial, Montreal Canadiens. Thanks for everything. It's been a hell of a hundred years, and if the next hundred are half as good, it'll still be worthy of celebration.
Get our your pen, Your Highness. You've got a birthday letter to write.
Posted by J.T. at 2:14 AM