Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oh, What a Night!

Today I went to the grocery store and in the lineup ahead of me were two guys; one wearing a Habs jacket, the other a Bruins cap. They eyed each other a couple of times, then sheepishly nodded, smiled and started to talk about the Centennial game. The funny thing was, they never talked about who won or lost at all. They were enthusing about the ceremony and the night itself. "Did you see the crowd when Roy skated out?" "Did you see Dryden take shots?" "It was pretty cool when Savard, Robinson and Lapointe were all out there together." "Good old Knuckles." "How about Naslund? He burned our team so often!"

The night was perfect because it wasn't just about the Habs. It was about hockey and how the game has survived the trials and tribulations of decades to become the national passion it is now. Watching the men who helped build the game and make us love it was appealing to all fans, whether they love or hate the Canadiens on ordinary nights. It reminded me of the famous Christmas Eve truce in the WWI trenches when peace between warring factions held sway for one special evening.

There were so many perfect moments, but the ones that stood out for me included:

-Eddy Palchak coming out with the bucket of pucks as though he did it yesterday.

-Patrick Roy leading the team out, then the moment of shock when the crowd realized who it was, followed by the massive standing ovation.

-Roy's CBC interview, in which he told Ron McLean he had to squeeze his older face into the mask.

-Butch Bouchard and Elmer Lach clutching each other's hands as the crowd's cheering swelled to a crescendo.

-The O'Byrne gesture, removing his sweater just as the Bouchard banner hit the rafters.

-Cammalleri, Metropolit and two or three others hanging out in the tunnel from the dressing room in shorts and t-shirts, watching the video highlight tributes.

-The team picture. (I HAVE to get a copy of that!)

-Jaro Halak waiting by the gate until Patrick Roy came by, then waylaying him for a quick word.

-Mike Cammalleri riding the wave of emotion during the ovation after his hat-trick goal, and just mouthing, "Wow."

-Metropolit's joy after scoring for his favourite team on its most special night.

-The gesture at the end, when all the players gathered at centre ice and acknowledged the fans.

It was a perfect night. For the Habs, for hockey and for us.


HC said...

Perfect indeed. I can add last night to my list of most memorable Habs/hockey moments. It took me a second to realize Roy was on the ice and then my eyes welled up, as did the eyes of the fans sitting around me. What a's the stuff that Habs dreams are made of!

x-ine said...

Agree with everything you've said here. It was truly magical.

Number31 said...

Only in Montreal would we chant "EDDY! EDDY! EDDY!" :D What a lovely night.

Bettman was there, I hope he learned something about this game and the history of it all, the emotion of it and how special it is to us fans, and I hope they DON'T change the names of the famous trophies....

Patrick said...

I'm still warm and fuzzy from all those emotions. What a night!

You know what? It reminds me of another strong moment that happened to be a turning point: the night the Habs rallied past the Rangers netting 5 goals on a historic comeback... (Kovalev on its back, all four limbs turned to the sky!)

Of course, the Centennial game had a magic of its own, and for the first time, I felt like the ghosts of the Forum had possessed the whole Habs team, particularly Cammalleri and Price.

Andrew Berkshire said...


Seeing Patrick Roy in gear, taking shots... I can't even describe how amazing that felt. And the fire in his eyes is still there. You can tell he didn't want to leave the net.

All the moments you noted JT, just perfection.

RedheadHabs said...

-The Bell Center litteraly choked when Roy jumped on the ice, you could feel the wave of emotion.

-Butch and Lach holding each other's arms locked eyes, no words were said, but we could see the energy going between them as if it was a full conversation, by far the most touching moment.

-O'Byrne, what a guy, such a gentleman on that.

Will remember every second of it forever.

roger soucy said...

Just got back from Montreal and saw the game Friday night. For maybe the first time in my life I experienced the cliche of not believing my eyes. When Roy came out on the ice it took 5 or 6 seconds for it to sink in, and after the rest of the greats followed I found myself thinking "Of Course, what else would they do" It was awesome. I have lots of pictures and film, saw lots of the players at my hotel, but I can still reconstruct those early few seconds in my mind and get the same chills. As good as it gets.