Monday, July 25, 2011

A Contest

I have a confession to make. When I first began following NHL hockey back in the '80s, I was a Flyers fan. There. I said it. But before you think, "How could you?!" let me explain.

When I was about 12, I used to mind my younger brothers on Saturday nights, when my parents went next door to play cards with the neighbours. We had two TV channels at the time, so options were limited. After the boys went to bed, the house was really quiet, and for a 12-year-old with an imagination, just a bit creepy. So, one TV channel played a spooky movie every Saturday evening, while the other showed Hockey Night in Canada. Naturally, even though I'd never really watched hockey before, I picked the game because I was too chicken to watch the movie.

The first game I watched in its entirety was one between the leafs and the Flyers. The Flyers' Peter Zezel caught my eye, and I rooted for his team to win. (Even then, I found there was something off-putting about the leafs.) I thought the game was really exciting, and not only did "my" team win, but the player I liked best was first star. I was hooked.

A couple of weeks later, I was disappointed when the game on TV didn't feature the Flyers. It was Montreal versus Boston, but I decided to watch it anyway. I loved it. The iconic red uniforms just looked right somehow. The game was pretty close, back and forth, until the Canadiens exploded for five consecutive goals in the second and third periods. It was really something, watching a team just steamroll the opposition like that. There was this little guy in red too, the smallest guy on the ice, and he scored two goals against the Bruins in a game rife with fights and obvious bad blood.

I was deeply attracted to the Canadiens, but I felt conflicted. After all, I'd decided just two weeks before to be a Flyers fan. It seemed a bit traitorous and more than a bit fickle to dump my new team so quickly. What would Peter Zezel think?

To help me make a decision, I did a little research. The hockey encyclopedia explained that, historically, there was no comparison between the two teams. The Canadiens were superior in Cup wins, victories, Hall-of-Famers, cool stories and mythology. I discovered the legend of the Habs, and a love affair was born. It would be cemented on a November Saturday the following season, when a long-necked, twitchy goalie previewed the Stanley Cup finals by withstanding a Calgary Flames onslaught to win his first NHL game.

Of course, Patrick Roy went on to win another 550 games after that first victory, on his way to becoming the last Canadiens superstar. A lot has happened to the team since then, but I've stayed a Canadiens fan through it all. Even in the dark days, there was always a hope that somehow the rag-tag group on the ice could pull off a miracle.

Anyway, I thought the dog days of summer might be a good time to solicit your stories. How did you become a Canadiens fan? Why do you remain one? Did you ever have an encounter with your favourite player that meant a lot to you? Post your favourite Habs-related experience, and I'll draw a winner from the entries. The prize is a Habs-related novelty that makes me smile, and be grateful I didn't stay a Flyers fan.

36 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

No contest winner here, but I am a fan because I was born in Montreal. My parents and uncle weren't really -- I think because they had once been Maroon fans. Anyway, there was no question with me, and I have stuck with them over the decades even though I didn't pay too much attention to hockey for quite a few years. The Habs weren't very good for awhile, and living in Leaf/Red Wing territory I couldn't catch many games. The decline of the franchise and the clutch and grab era caused me to lose interest. I was even somewhat disappointed with the last two Cup wins because they weren't won with their old-fashioned elan. However, these days, I take a win any way I can get it.

Paul B. said...

BTW, I remember wI became hooked with hockey exactly on March 17th, 1955. That's so easy to remember. Listening to the radio about the riot that was taking place less than a mile from where we lived, I began asking questions about riots, hockey, Maurice Richard, the Canadiens, the Forum, tear gas and a few other things.

I was barely six years old and since my parents hadn't bought our first TV yet, that was my first "encounter" with hockey. I guess we could say it came with a bang...

Btw, a few days later we got a TV.

Anonymous said...

I was hooked up at a young age as well.

I'd say around 5-6 around 1980-81. I was living in the suburbs on the northshore of Montréal. My dad was a fan and he was watching the games on saturday night like his dad before him.

Every saturday night, I was watching the 1st period with him then went to bed. Almost every saturday night of course, I wasnt able to sleep so I was wandering in the house, find my dad in the living room while my mom didnt know. And we watched the game together until I felt asleep in his arms. Must have done that a hundred time between 5 and 11-12 when I was able to watch the game from 1st to 3rd.

My dad use to have a lot of tickets to see the games in the old Forum as well. That helped a lot creating the fan in me.

Great memories.

Anonymous said...

Back when I started watching hockey as a kid in the early 80's, my favorite team was the Minnesota North Stars and my favorite player was this new guy Dino Ciccarelli. Growing up in Quebec, that was a weird choice considering everything here was about the Canadiens and the Nordiques.
And because it was pratically impossible to watch many of my team games, I had to eventually pick a "2nd favorite team" that I could actually follow closely, and that ended up being the Nordiques. Which meant that I had to hate the Canadians. And hated them I did. Oh how did I despise them!
Then, one heart breaking day after the other, The North Stars moved south followed by The Nordiques moving to Colorado.
I felt betrayed and pretty much stopped watching hockey for a year or two.
With only the Canadians left in town and still in love with the sport, I gradually started watching and following them. But I didnt really care about them.
It's hard to pinpoint when I actually started to love the Canadians, especially since it was in a period where they didnt have a lot of success. But this could actually explain why they started to grow on me, because I always root for the underdog.

Shawn W said...

I claim my fandom began sometime in my elementary school years. When at my grandmothers one Saturday night Montreal was on TV and my grandmother said enough good things about them that I liked them right away and I never waivered. I mentioned this to her not that long ago and she seemed surprised. I'm not really sure who her favorite team is. My heros growing up started with Shutt, Lafleur, and Robinson (Their careers were comming to an end when I stated watching); my greatest heros came afterwards beginning with my alltime favorite Marcus Naslund, Corson (not far behind), Nilan, Smith, Richer, Damphousse, Muller, Chelios, Courtnall (b/c we fleeced the Leafs), Turgeon (b/c it was a while since we had a star at that point in time), Desjardins, S.Lebeau, O'Delein, Koivu, Savage, and of course Roy, todays team I most like Price, Subban, Markov, Eller and Plekanec. there are so many that I loved including the pluggers but This post would be too long
between the ages of when I was under 10 years old my grandmother

Tara said...

My family lived in New Jersey and we only got Flyers games on TV, and I even though I used to go to school with Clarke's son, I never liked the Flyers. It was a visceral reaction to that orange. I digress...
I finally got to go to a live game, and the only tickets my dad could get for me were for this Canadiens team. I wanted the Oilers, darn it (Gretzky, anyone?)! Instead, during warm-up, I became instantly obsessed with this adorable, tic-filled goalie and got smiles from Chelios and Carbo. Hey, I was a 14 year old girl, and there was no chance I was not going to love this team - it was written on my heart.
Twenty-six years later I'm living on a different continent and I am still obsessed.

Patrick said...

I was raised a Nordiques fan. When they moved in 1995 and won the cup the year after, after years of unrespectability, I was truly disgusted by hockey and could not really watch it anymore. And the Canadiens was then a pretty poor team, and I could not accept trading Forsberg-Sakic-Nolan with Petrov-Brunet-Stevenson. It's only in 2004, a few years after moving to Montréal that I switched side. I will ever roots for the Habs (unless they move out to Atlanta), even with the return of the Nordiques in Québec (that would be awesome, by the way). I guess that makes me the more a Montrealer.

LeBuuuuut said...

2 and a half years ago, I was a freshman in college. I had been talking with some people for a while who were big NHL fans (mostly Pittsburgh) and I decided that I wanted to get back into it.

Around 2000, I had a passing interest in the NHL (being from Wisconsin, there isn't much interest in it here without a team). I had NHL Faceoff 2001 for Playstation and steamrolled everyone with the Avalanche, led by my favorite players Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy. Over time that interest fell away since I didn't have much of an opportunity to watch the real version on tv and newer and better games came along to take away my interest.

So, I decided that this was going to be a real, lifelong decision, and I wanted to make a choice that would last. I spent a few weeks going over the teams and rosters to see if any caught my eye. I immediately eliminated Detroit, Chicago (Milwaukee rival), Dallas, and New Jersey from my minor interest in Colorado earlier. I narrowed down my final list to Colorado (former flame), Pittsburgh (people to talk with/keep interest), Philadelphia (I'm an Eagles fan), Minnesota (college), and the Habs (my top Canadian choice).

I realized that I didn't have much of a connection with Colorado anymore, and knocked them off the list. I passed on the Flyers because they didn't draw me in, and I passed on the Wild because I would only be in Minnesota for a few years (plus they were rather mediocre). I was basically left with Pittsburgh and Montreal.

I went home for Christmas break and found out that the NHL had games on Versus every Tuesday (I think). I usually had to work Tuesday nights, but happened to have one off. And what do you know, the Habs were playing. I thought it was a sign that I should choose them as my team. Perhaps they had even chosen me. Saku Koivu caught my attention right away. What a great name! The jerseys were outstanding, and they even had Alex Tanguay (the scorer of many hat tricks off of Joe Sakic assists in NHL Faceoff 2001). It was a done deal.

Ever since then I've been a diehard fan. It was especially solidified during the Conference Finals run 2 years ago. I would never have imagined that I would be so emotionally interested in an NHL team, especially so soon. Over time, I found out that Patrick Roy (one of my favorites) was actually a Hab to begin with. I found out the franchise has an amazing history. The period reviews here helped me learn more about the game, and (in the past year) the posts at Four Habs Fans have gotten me hooked on a more entertaining style of hockey coverage. I overcame the loss of Koivu after only a half season of him being my favorite, and now PK Subban has taken over that title. This past Christmas my mom had to figure out how to get me a Montreal Canadiens PK Subban jersey shirt, which I'm sure she had no idea existed before it appeared on my list.

So, that was longer than I expected, but that's my story. I'm glad I made the choice that I did and I can't wait for next season.

KRaZykeV said...

When I was 4 I was allowed to stay up and watch the 1st period of HNIC on Saturday nights. Living in southern Ontario, it was mostly the Leafs. Then one night in 76, Guy Lafleur and the Habs were playing in Toronto. I think Guy had a hat trick and 5 points in the first period, and the Habs DOMINATED 5-0 after one. This was the first time I ever wanted to watch the WHOLE game, and I was hooked ever since.

Anonymous said...

Family Honoured Tradition

I'm grateful for a lot of things my parents gave me. Comfortable life, life lessons, etc. And that's a reflection of what my grandfather gave my father. One item though is a unique privilege: to be a fan of Le Club Hockey Canadien, and never having a permanent address in Montreal or Quebec my entire life.

It started with a choice after my grandfather was interned as a Japanese Canadian by the Federal Government after WWII: Stay where he was (not sure where exactly), or move to Montreal. He wasn't allowed to go back to BC where he grew up.

So, he chose Montreal. Now bitterness wasn't an option. He had no education, no real skills, and was more or less on his own. But he prevailed. He married, had 4 kids, and found every way to put the ordeal behind him, and become a Montrealer in every sense of the title.

He loved hockey. He also lived in Montreal. Put them together and what do you get: A family legacy. It was the most poetic way to become what he wanted for himself, and his family: A Montrealer. He loved the team so much that the radio was brought everywhere he went: errands, weddings, funerals, and, even to his own. The passion was also left with his kids.

Fast forward to today. Smaller world, smaller Canada, but a much better Canada. Opportunities were seized as the generations went by, and I myself have had the fortune to live in Ontario, BC, Ontario again, and back in BC, with a stint in Japan (and yes, brought my jersey with me). I don't speak French. I love Quebec, but I've never had anything mailed to me there.

So when I tell the world I am a Habs fan until I become nothing more than a part of someone's memory, and admit I've never called La Belle Province home, about 98% of the time I get everything from laughs, puzzled looks, and even disgust.

They all disappear though, when I give them a reason. A reason that is short, poignant, and could not be any more clear: I'm a Third Generation Habs Fan.

Ken Habs said...

Being a Habs fan is something special. The history of the Habs is sparkling with names and symbols that cover the NHL's history. I was born in 1989, started playing hockey in 1995. I began as a player but found that I wasn't all that good compared to the better kids. I was always afraid to play goalie (taking turns goalie system) so I never raised my hand to play. Last game of the season Coach asked all kids if anyone hasn't played goalie yet. My mom tying my skates yells out "he hasn't". I was mad. So I played goalie. We won 3-0 vs. 2nd place team. I loved it! Coach asked me after game if I wanted to be full time for the playoffs. We went to finals and lost 3-2 to the best team. I grew an idol a during the summer which was Roy! I had his road hockey mask. lol. But he was traded that summer to Colorado. I stayed a Habs fan, but followed Roy. I thought it was the most ridiculous trade! So as a child growing up in Windsor, ONT. I followed a little bit of Detroit's success in 97, 98, 03, but never over my Habs! Until one day I seen the 05' draft and Carey Price was drafted. I was excited! I followed Price's career a bit. In 07' for the WJC is where I got really excited and thought he could be the next Roy! I am now 22 years old and Price is my favorite goalie(playing), Roy is always my idol! After Price's season this season, I am sure him as well as the likes of PK Subban will bring a Cup to Montreal and do it's fans proud. Roy was reason for me to become Habs fan. I still haven't seen my Habs win a cup, but have watched many videos, film and whatnot hoping to experience it one day as a Habs fan! Go Habs Go!

Anonymous said...

A Flyers'fan ?
how could you?

Raj said...

I became a Habs fan in 1971. I had just emigrated to Canada with my parents. I was 15 and desperate to be assimilated into the culture of my adopted country. We lived in Ottawa. So, I became on Ottawa Rough Riders fan (for you younger readers, yes, Ottawa had a team in the CFL back then, and a damn good one, too). I also became a passionate Montreal Expos fan because Rusty Staub, "le grand orange," captured my imagination and because the radio broadcasts of the Expos games (we had no TV) in both French (which I knew) and English were outstanding. Dave Van Horne, who did the games, first with Russ Stewart, and then with Duke Snider, fully deserves the award he got recently. Jacques Dussette and Jean-Pierre Roy, on the French language stations were just as good, however.

But neither team could compete with the Montreal Canadiens for my affection. The Habs back then had, gasp!, missed the playoffs in '69-'70 and were rebuilding. In '70-'71, Sam Pollock traded for Frank Mahovlich and also set in place the trade with the California Golden Seals that would bring Guy Lafleur to the Canadiens the next year.

In my first hockey season in Canada, the Canadiens went up against the mighty Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins had finished first in the league and set all kinds of scoring records that season. They scored 399 goals, about a quarter of them on the power-play, Esposito had 76 goals and 76 assists, Orr 37 goals and 102 assists. Even Johnny Bucyk was a 50 goal scorer. The Canadiens had a rookie coach (Al McNeil) that Henri Richard lambasted in the press during the playoffs. McNeil decided to face the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs with a minor league goaltender with 6 games of NHL experience. His name was Ken Dryden.

As Habs fans know, the Habs beat the Bruins in 7 games and went on the win the Cup, overcoming all kinds of adversity, including being down in game 7 of the finals against Chicago 0-2. (There were many times last season I would have bet the team would never have come back from being down by that paltry score). Lemaire scored with a slaphot from outside the blueline to start the comeback and the Habs eventually prevailed. Dryden won the Conn Smythe, Frank Mahovlich set a playoff scoring record, and I became a Habs fan forever.

Even had there been less drama in that playoff series, I still would have been hooked, again because of the radio broadcasts. Danny Gallivan, Dick Irvin, Rene Lecavalier and Gilles Tremblay were superb. I miss them so much. When we finally got TV, even back then, from my viewpoint, HNIC sucked when it didn't feature the Canadiens. Ron McLean (yes, he was on TV back then) and Dave Hodge, at least in my view, couldn't hold a candle to the broadcasters listed above.

I stopped following the Canadiens in the Houle-Tremblay era. I just could not believe how those two could fail so horrendously to carry out their responsibilities as stewards of the Canadiens' proud history. I'm sorry, there's no excuse. I never expected anyone who was associated with the Canadiens of the 70s to be incompetent because the team had such a tradition of excellence. I was glad when Gainey was brought in as GM and became a fan once more. Despite the murmurings we hear these days about Jacques Martin and Pierre Gauthier, I think the team is in good hands now.

Thanks, JT, for allowing me to go down memory lane.

Jessica and Stephan said...

I come from a family of leaf's fans, all raised to be leafs fans! Because I was girl, I was not educated in which team to choose for. I fell into hockey on my own, when in grade 4 we read "The hockey sweater" and watched the cartoon movie of it. From there, I was hooked. I started collecting hockey cards, and attended card-trading days every Friday in the school library. I came into hockey the last season the Habs won the cup. Naturally, I was given a hard time by my Leaf's family. But I stuck to my guns, and obsessively researched anything that had to do with The Rocket,and any of the legends. My love grew from there.

I came in too late into hockey to really remember Patrick Roy very well, and I was too young. He was gone shortly after my love of hockey started. My love of the Habs grew alongside Koivu, and I looked to him as how the heart of a true Habs player should be. When and if I ever have kids, and they get into hockey...that is how I want to teach them to behave and hold themselves...on AND off the ice.

geezerfan said...

I was a small 11 year old immigrant kid in a northern Quebec mining town when I met the whole Habs team. It was the start of their training camp after their Cup win of '53 and as is their tradition back in those days they took the team on the road to a couple of small towns and cities in Quebec to play exhibition games during camp. It was BIG! But other than watching local hockey and playing in the Kiwanis sponsored kids' leagues, I never knew what the Montreal Canadiens were.

During the visit, the schools were let out to gather autographs at the hotel where the team stayed and in the rush to get to some of the more recognizable players, I was knocked down and almost trampled by the bigger kids in front of one of the players. When he saw the situation developing, the player closest to me leaned down and picked my up off the floor, wet and dirty. After the crowds cleared, a bunch of us were hanging around in the lobby discussing how many autographs each one got when a guy in an overcoat and a fedora approached us and asked me if I was OK. It was Old #9 himself, and he gave me signed pictures of most of the team.

In retrospect, the team that I met was to become the greatest team ever assembled in hockey, arguably in any sport. Two years later they would go on to win 5 Cups in a row.

I am a Canadiens Fan....since 1953.

Anonymous said...

Early 1960's, table top hockey game for Christmas present. The two teams were the leafs and the Canadiens. Quick 3-goals-wins round robin tournaments with my father and brothers in a warm corner of the kitchen while dinner was being prepared. My father was a leafs fan and preferred having them for his team. I had to be the Canadiens, so why not want to be the Canadiens. Being a good sport, my father generally let this 7 yr old win. I win, the Canadiens win, life was good.

Fast forward, 1971, living in Mass.,low life bar that served alcohol to minors, Bruins- Canadiens playoff game. Canadiens come back from 4 or 5 goals down. Surrounded by Bruins fans, I inadvertently let out a cheer when the Habs score to go ahead. Pool cue whacks me across the back. I leave in a hurry.

Dryden becomes my hero as he drove Esposito to drink.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Darren Stark said...

I was born and raised a HABS fan passed down from generation to generation through my family both on my mom and dads side. My grandparents settled in MTL when they moved here from England. I was raised on teh HABS and got to see them in their heyday of the 70s I sure miss those days we were sure spoiled by greatness. How I long for days like those again.

Darcy (mckend2@Sasktel.net) said...

My love of the Habs started when I was 10 years old. It was the spring of 93 and the Habs were playing the Nordiques - Although I don't remember anything specific about any of the games, I remember watching them win 4 straight after losing the first 2 at home.. I would listen to the Habs on the radio if the game went to OT/past my bed time for rounds 1-3. For the Cup Final, I remember sneaking out of my bedroom after my mom had gone to sleep so I could watch the games in LA and how I much trouble I got in when she found me on the couch one morning with the TV still on! I remain a Habs fan because I hope to be able to see the next young Beliveau, Roy or Robinson develop before my (our) eys and watch him take off like a shooting star. I had a chance to meet St. Patrick in Kirkland in 1994 at a signing at the grand opening of a CIBC branch. I was so shocked that THE MAN was talking to ME that i could hardly speak. He posed with me for a picture and signed a poster - I I still have both to this day.

Anonymous said...

like many of you i was born a habs fan much to my wife's chagrin i have the habs logo tattoed just above my heart........my earliest memory of being a hab fanatic was 1972 i was ten years old the habs were on another playoff run with a young goalie named ken dryden the morning before one of the games our tv broke that afternoon my dad and i walked to the mall bought a new tv carried it 5 blocks to our house......i remember my mother saying we were both crazy...turns out she was right i am still crazy for the habs........ps your blog is one of the best out there trust me i read most of them

Alex said...

That terrible 95/96 season, the beginning of Houle/Tremblay. My mother and I had just moved to Montreal from Germany. I was 14 at the time. I remember watching my first hockey game ever, a 4-1 loss to New Jersey all the way up in the cheapest Forum seats. It must have been right at the beginning of the season, with Demers still coach. I was hooked. I loved every second of it, that one game made me forget soccer, which had been the sport of choice.

Some time later we did a tour of the Forum, being new citizens, taking in the story and sights if the city. The Habs held a morning practice that day and we were allowed down to the players benches. Some guy named Robert Dirk - one of Houle's new acqusitions - gave me his autograph on my Habs cap. I wore it every day the next weeks. Turner Stevenson would just hand me his stick, claiming it was broken (it wasn't). It's a green Sherwood, it's my prize Habs possession. Now comes the awesome part: the players finished practice and left for the locker rooms. My mom, being busy taking a million pictures, hadn't noticed our guide and group leaving without us. We stood there alone, not sure what to do. There were pucks lying on the ice still. I hopped over the bench and started taking shots with Stevensons stick tha was nearly double the size of me and a RH curve, but nevermind. I was on Forum ice.
Some guy came and asked what I was doing and I left.

The Forum closed down and my friends and I would try to get the cheap tickets to the Molson Center. After one season I loved hockey so much I would go to the summer games of Rollerhockey at the Molson, the Roadrunners, man...

We went back to Germany in 98 and I'm sorry that I've never seen a good Habs team. It wouldn't matter to me though. Saku was and still is my hero. I liked Thibault because I never knew another Habs goalie except the few games Roy played before Dec 95.

Here in Germany I still watch Habs hockey as often as I can. I've got Center Ice and I read Four Habs Fans and your blog every day, checking for news, even in off-season. In a mere 3 years the Habs have made me passionate about a team and a sport in a way that no other game or team could do.

Ian said...

Hi Leigh Anne,

Great story!

I go back quite a ways. I started watching hockey on our one channel in Thunder Bay back in the mid-50's. We'd pick up the game for the second period after Tommy Hunter or Juliette ended (can't remeber which, but I know it annoyed me then as an eight year old not being able to see the whole game).

I loved the Habs red, white and blue (especially the red). Mind you, the TV was B&W, so I had to see the colours in magazine pictures. I loved red so much I dreamed of being a Mountie one day.

Of course, it was a great time then to be a Hab's fan, as they were on their way to five Cups in a row.

After their fifth Cup in 1960, at the age of 13, I decided it was 'boring' to watch a team win all the time, and looked for an underdog team. This turned out to be the Makeya Laffs (I can't believe I am admitting this). The draw was the Big M, Frank Mahovlich, who I idolized! I followed the Laffs until he got traded to Detroit, where I became a Red Wings fan. The fact that he was on a line with Gordie Howe, centred by Alex Delvecchio from Fort William, now part of Thunder Bay, was awesome.

Then Frank got traded to the Habs, won some Cups there and scored his 500th as a Hab. I was back home, where I belonged, watching my idol to boot!

I live and die with the Habs still today, even though I turned 64 last weekend. The people in the corporation I work for across the Province of Ontario primarily know me as a Habs fan, not just that manager in Hamilton. I get mail from all over the province when they lose. But I give it out a lot more than I get. :)

Anonymous said...

Ian that is what happened to me ...I followed the big M, Been a HUGE Montreal fan since.Thought I was the only one:)

Sundowning said...

I come from Mexico, a city called Culiacan, Mexico's hockey program lately has been going on the upside and my home city has two awesome new hockey rinks i can't wait to play at some day. Also its a beautiful city might i add, just not a safe one anymore thanks to idiots and their drugs sadly.
So roll back to 1993 when we came to the united states, by then i had been filled with knowledge of these LA kings that my cousins were watching with this really cool talented player wearing a Jofa helmet who saw everything and anything on the ice. But fast foward to the finals, and lo and behold those Kings are in it, and my cousins are full force calling me to arizona from Los Angeles telling me to turn on the tv and watch a really cool sport. So i saw this team wearing these red jerseys playing a style that was making this super talented Kings team look outclassed, whats up with that right? Well i loved the jerseys, and i loved some of the people on that team. I didnt get to see them win the cup, sadly it wasnt televised in arizona for that game. True shame. Sadly i knew no english save for "Score" "Save" and a few other things

1994 i saw the rangers win the cup, not impressed. Watched the Devils win the cup, impressed, Scott Stevens is awesome after all right? Then this awesome goalie from 93 got traded to Colorado, close to Arizona, and televised!!!! So i got to see him and a few former Habs players pound through the season, and pound through the playoffs and watch another former Hab and devil, Claude Lemieux hit a red wing, awesome!

Fast forward to Fox showing hockey and OH LOOK ITS THE RANGERS VS THE CANADIENS!!!! OH MY!! Of course by then i knew english, and having Canadian Neighbors and a teacher from Minnesota who gave me a book of hockey as a gift. This book taught me about a few good guys, the main best guy was this fiery rocket, Maurice Richard, originally the Comet. The man who revolutionized many things for Quebec not just hockey but in everything. A true identity, the reason i decided i wanted to play hockey because if he overcame all the odds, i can overcome all the racist odds and many others for being from my country and wanting to play! Well the plants of hockey were already being watered and growing. The coyotes ended up moving here, well, Jets, get over it the jets history is the coyotes history not the new team. By then i was already going to ASU games and Roadrunners games. I was obsessed. And it was all good. My montreal posters were getting lots of mileage!

Since then i've been playing hockey on ice since 05, roller since 96 back when spanish was still the main language and broken english was the second and hockey was Number 1-A. (still is, ask the fiancee) Now i watch every game on my computer, listen to it on my phone by tapping into Montreal radio stations, and obsess over montreal hockey gloves, games, players, and talk to anyone who wants to talk Montreal Canadiens.

At 26 now, i've come from a non english or french speaking country, to the first thing in english i watched that actually caught my attention to learn english was this sport with a puck that i now know hurts so bad when it comes into contact with your face or bones. To being a huge fan of The Canadiens. one of my proudest moments was watching a fellow mexican be traded to my favorite team, i wish he played like he earns but gladly i can say i'm not the only Mexican sporting a Montreal Jersey!

Spanish, English, French. I know one language, GO HABS GO. And it will never get old!

Jim Edson said...

As a youngster living in the west island in the late 50's and 60's the thought of seeing a Montreal Canadiens game at the Forum was almost unthinkable. Seats were that hard to get and it was such a hike to get into the city via the old Metropolitan Boulevard and Upper Lachine road.(No 40 or 2/20 in those days in fact it was a toll call to phone the city!)

The alternative was the Junior Canadiens on Sunday afternoons at the Forum. An amazing team featuring Jacques Laperierre(who played nearly the entire games)Yvon Cournoyer, Andre Boudrias, Doug Carpenter, Jacques Lemaire and Serge Savard. Seeing these players live and up close made the TV presentations so much more interesting later on as they moved up to the big team.

Nonetheless every Saturday night at nine PM we would join the Canadiens' live broadcast in progress usually at the end of the first period with either Danny Gallivan or Rene Lecavalier doing play by play.

The darkest weekend of the year was having to endure the LAFFS broadcast when the Ice Capades or Ice Follies annually took over the Forum.

The players were great, the TV presentation was sooo much superior to Foster (what's that players name) Hewitt and of course the winning was paramount.

What's not to love!

Nate Boisvenue said...

I was 5 years old, living in Ottawa in a single-parent home with a mom who knew practically nothing about sports in general.. it was 1986, and Montreal had just won the cup, which somehow caught my attention.

The following year, my mother would let me watch the first period of a game and record the rest on the VHS machine to watch the following day. Since I had school to attend, I would wake up 45 minutes early to watch the rest of the game so that I would know the result and what happened in order to discuss with my grade 1 colleagues during recess. That year, I practically made my poor mother memorize each and every team name in the NHL, as well as most players on the Habs (Love ya, Mom!).

Patrick Roy was my idol, and losing to Calgary in 1989 only cimented my love for all things Habs. It was Roy who carried the team on most nights, and made me want to be a goaltender too. When they won again in 1993, on the magic of umpteen OT wins from St. Patrick & co., it was one of the happiest moments of my childhood and something I will never forget for as long as I live.

Mark said...

I grew up in Northern Vermont in a family full of French Canadian immigrants. From my birth we spent Saturday nights at my uncle Jean-Pierre's where the television and the excitement of a Guy LaFleur rush was a big part of our link back to our French heritage.

Anonymous said...

6 years old in 1971, living in Kingston and along came a goalie named Ken Dryden. Hooked on the Habs ever since

whistlerfan said...

Wow, some of these stories are amazing. Mine is of the more common variety. I grew up in a French-Canadian family in Quebec, my father was a hockey player and Canadiens fan, so I became one as well. I foggily remember Jean Béliveau's last Cup, and being told that it was his last game. To stop me from crying, because I believed he was going to die or that hockey would come to an end, it was then explained to me that he was retiring and while he could still be my favourite player, we now had another player called Frank Mahovlich, and he had a younger brother called Pete and one of them could become my new favourite, or second favourite.

I started playing minor hockey shortly after and became a defenceman, so I was a big fan of Larry Robinson, especially when he would go end-to-end with the puck. I liked the Big Three and Langway, he seemed to be a younger brother of Larry's. I also wondered if Guy Lapointe was jealous of Larry and Serge Savard, since they got to play with each other and he got stuck without a Big Three partner. In hindsight, I'm sure he was okay with playing on a pairing with whoever, since he could hog the puck, and he did.

I thoroughly loved the four Cups from '76 to '79, you could feel that team building with the New Year's Eve Red Army game , and was overjoyed that they ended the reign of the Broad Street Bullies. You could also tell in '79 that a fifth Cup might be difficult, with Jacques Lemaire and Ken Dryden retiring from the NHL, and Scotty Bowman leaving, feeling slighted for being overlooked for the General Manager position. Also, those NY Islanders were going to be tough to keep at bay forever it seemed.

The 1986 Cup was a pleasant surprise, coming on the heels of a disappointing regular season, and after a friend had told me that Larry Robinson, who lived nearby on the West Island, while speaking with her father had called new coach Jean Perron a flipping a-hole, which didn’t augur well at the time. I would seal the deal with her on the night of Patrick Roy’s magical overtime performance against the Rangers, his heroics had us cheering and hugging and breaking down barriers. Patrick was indeed a saint and performed miracles.

The parade was memorable, as I was working for the summer at the Ritz Carlton on Sherbrooke Street, and a lot of us took our lunch breaks and ran down to Ste-Catherine and basked in the sun and celebration. We saw Patrick and Larry and Bob Gainey and all the players crawl by in the convertibles that barely moved, so swarmed were they. We came back to work way overdue, but the indulgent punch-clock operator, a nice gentleman gave us all a wink and told us he’d taken care of punching back us back in on time.

I left Montreal in 1990 and now live in BC. I had trouble keeping track of my team and almost lost touch, but I never became a Canucks fan. The 93 Cup was great because finally I could watch my team on the CBC, and not just the Leafs. I could also prove to non-believers what a great goalie Patrick was. At the start of the 1991 Canada Cup, I had stated that the championship was anything but in the bag, since Canada would be playing without the best forward, defenceman and goalie in the world. When pressed to explain, I would say that Mario Lemieux, Raymond Bourque and Patrick Roy’s absence would be keenly felt. My friends would allow the first two might be best in the world, but dismissed Roy as a flash in the pan and a one Cup wonder. Seeing him win OT game after OT game in the 93 playoffs really shut them up.

Since then, with better TV coverage and the rise of the internet, the love affair that had cooled somewhat due to distance is now as passionate as ever. The Dark Ages/Rejean Houle-Mario Tremblay Era are finally well behind us, and the organization is in solid hands. We can look forward to another Cup soon.

KenHabsFan said...

My parents emigrated to Montreal from Scotland , and quickly became Habs fans, I grew up watching Beliveau , Then Lafleur Dryden et al Listening to Gallivan & Irvin I had no choice but to be an Habs Fan

Jenn said...

Some great stories here. I wish I had been alive to see the glory days of the 50s and 70s. Or at least old enough to remember '93! But alas I was only 2 years old when the Habs last won the Cup.

However, I like to think that I come by love of the Habs honestly.

The story starts in the 1950s when my great-uncle, David Bier, was a sports photographer. Specifically, he was the official photographer of the Montreal Canadiens hockey club throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He took many famous photographs including the iconic photo of Rocket Richard skating towards the camera. With photographs like that around the house, how could I be a fan of any other team?

Somewhere in the family is a photograph of my father as a very nerdy-looking 9 year old getting autographs from Habs greats Jean Beliveau, Boom-Boom Geoffrion, Gump Worsley, Henri Richard, etc. So growing up I knew that the Habs were my team.

Unfortunately I did most of my growing up in the heart of Leaf-land. At some point during the 2007-2008 season was when I actually started following the team. I fell in love with some of the players (especially a certain rookie goalie) and have been hooked ever since!

I was also lucky enough to live in Montreal the last two years and was able to go to a few games (now I'm back in Leaf-land, argggh!). And a year ago I went to the Habs Blood Drive to donate blood and got to meet a few of the players, including two of my favourites, Carey Price and Josh Gorges.

Anonymous said...

Started watching hockey on TV in 1964, as a nine year old in Montreal. A vulnerable age to be smitten by a sports team. But then starting in 1965 the Habs go on a run of 10 Stanley Cups in 15 years! I thought it was our God given right to have a Stanley Cup parade almost every year. What a rush.... and became totally addicted during that era.

Anonymous said...

My father was so passionate about the Rocket and then Beliveau that I started to watch it with him... even though we are from Kingston Ontario. I remember it going in under the Pocket Rocket in '66. From then on I was hooked.
Dad didn't steer me wrong as for the next 14 years they just kept winning and winning. It took me awhile after those years to figure out that that wasn't the natural order of things. Even though I still think sometimes that it should be their divine right.

Ali Berke said...

I came to Canada in 1965 from Turkey for graduate studies in McGill. I was a quite accomplished soccer player (U19 selection) and when I watched my first Canadiens game on t.v. at a friend's house I was hooked. My attraction to hockey was probably due to the fact that hockey was (is) very similar to soccer, albeit played in a much faster tempo given the limited play area involved, in its approach and logistics of playing/winning the game as a team sport.

Of course I was following my home team the Habs' games more than anything else (I think my friend was tired of seeing me almost every saturday but he didn't complain because I didn't have the money to buy a t.v.). The team winning the Stanley Cup that year (1966 Spring) cemented my becoming a dyed in the wool fan ever since.
As they say, the rest is history!!

Now looking forward to the 25th.
Cheers and thanks for this opportunity.

Anonymous said...

One Name:Patrick Roy. The best goalie that ever lived. On the playground whether it was soccer or hockey,us kids pretended to be Patrick,and it was Patrick in goal. His hockey cards were the most sought after and trading for one was gonna cost you. The Face of the Canadiens' Stanley Cup victories in the last 20-plus years was Patrick Roy's. Appendicitis couldn't stop the man who stopped pucks. The news of his return after appendix surgery to play a stellar playoff game raised his stature in my six year old eyes from "Idol" to "Religious Figure Head". The depth of the teams great history would slowly come later,but Patrick Roy was the Montreal Canadiens,and I couldn't(and still can't) possibly love them more.Habs Fan Forever. Time for #25!!!!

giovanni said...

I love ice hockey since I was a child when, in a country where only soccer exists (Italy), I was attracted by the simple fact that ice hockey was played behind the net too. I found it funny and I loved it, but unfortunately there was no satellite tv then, so I grew up a soccer fan just like everybody.
Then I came to Montreal in 1994, and I fell in love with this wonderful, energizing, multicultural and sexy city, and the Montreal Canadiens became part of my life. I watched the Hartford Whalers play at the Forum, then many more games at the Bell Center...among which a 5-4 victory over the Blackhawks with a Brisebois goal in overtime, me and my wife crazy behind the net...just one of the three games I watched at the Bell Center during my honeymoon across Canada :)
Now I'm a proud Habs fan, unfortunately back in Rome, really mad about ice hockey, and despite the fact I'm still a soccer fan too, I find that ice hockey is more exciting, but more importantly now I can watch at least 30 Habs games through satellite tv during the r.s., plus the playoffs, and when game is not televised, I record in on CJAD and listen to it while commuting to go to work... perhaps the only one to do so, but I don't care :) ... just waiting to come back to Montreal for the Stanley Cup final.
GO HABS GO !

PD said...

JT:

Although this is my first post, I read your blog regularly and thoroughly enjoy your insight. Keep up the great work!

Became a fan...
After being a passive fan for a year, my dad finally let me watch an entire game when I was 8 years old. It was the 1984 Good Friday game against the Nords. Down 1-0 with no time left in the 2nd period, brawl #1 starts. Some guy named Nilan was taking on the whole team and Sleigher ruined Hamel's career with a sucker punch. Clearly, the Canadiens were the good guys and the Nordiques the bad guys. But it was only the beginning. Hunter goes after his brother, Tremblay just loses it after discovering the severity of Hamel's injury and brawl #2 is crazier than the first.

Robinson and a kid named Chelios never seemed to leave the ice. But the player that grabbed my attention was Smith. He didn't score any of the goals that were part of the comeback but he set up 2 or 3 with his slick passing. Smooth and unselfish - he was the guy I idolized growing up from that moment on.

Encounter with a player...
After watching the Habs on tv his entire life (we lived in NB), my dad decided that we would see our first ever game. We saw the March 14, 1987 game, which is the one where the CBC fired Dave Hodge for tossing his pencil in the air after the CBC wouldn't show the OT between MTL and PHI.

Coming all that way, we wanted to sneak into a practice as well. We got about 12 signatures of players going in (the only PHI player we got was Ed Hospidar) and decided to make our move. The security guard gave us a knowing smile and we joined a group of goaltenders from PEI who were getting a tour from Chico Resch. It was obvious that I didn't belong to the group and Chico played along anyway. He asked me how long I'd been a goalie and lying, I said "about a year." The PEI guys and their parents just snickered.

So he brought us into the practice where afterwards I saw Shutt and Irvin and met Lemieux, Roy and Bobby Smith. As my dad was taking our picture, Smith asked how I was doing but I was too nervous to say anything. So I just stood there and smiled like an idiot kid.

It was a day I'll never forget!