Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nuit du Les Habitants or How I Became a Canadiens Fan One Night in December

I love hockey. And I'll grant you that I've spent more time writing about horses, and perhaps even hounds, than hockey this past year, but that shouldn't be read as a measure of my love of the sport.

See, I'm a winter girl. I love snow, skiing, skating, hockey, ice in my drinks (not martinis, but most other libations) --I really like winter. Maybe this is because I come from a state, Minnesota if you didn't know, where they build palaces of ice blocks for the Winter Carnival in St. Paul. This is also a place that has dubbed itself The State of Hockey. (Don't let Massachusetts folks rope you into arguing about could develop into a kerfuffle of epic proportion.)

So this hockey-loving Minnesota girl moved east and fell in love with the Bean Pot tournament games in Boston, Bruins games and the like. I've been in attendance at Bean Pot finals and games for the last 6 or so years, one year we were in great seats right by former Olympian Dave Silk. Actually, our seats were better than Dave's, but I digress.

What was great about being a fan out here was that I didn't have to choose a team. I cheered for the Bruins at their games, Northeastern at their games, BU and BC even, just enjoying the competition and fervor of their entrenched fans. Whenever I had the chance to catch the Minnesota Wild on TV, it was great and I rooted heartily for them. But for the most part I was nothing more than a casual fan who watched and attended games whenever and wherever I could.

That all changed one evening in December.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the big celebrations for the Montreal Canadiens 100th Anniversary in early December and I'm not afraid to say it, I was immediately smitten. I'm a sucker for tradition and history. Needless to say, I've since immersed myself in The Habs. I follow several great Habs fans on Twitter and still find myself reading the great pieces that were written for the beautiful centennial program that we all got at the game that night. I listen to all the games on CJAD internet radio and I find myself scouring the Montreal Gazette and the hockey blogs for tidbits to share with my Hab-loving friends. I've jumped into Habs fandom with both feet--and with my eyes open. I've been warned of the number of heartbreaks that the team has suffered (and caused) over the past century, but as a Red Sox fan and loyal Chelsea FC football fan, I'm NO stranger to heartbreak.

So what was catalyst? I can't say for sure, but part of it was watching all the ex-Canadiens on the ice skating during the pre-game ceremonies, they really looked like generations of a family. And then to see how the team honored Elmer Lach and Butch Bouchard among all the other great players was so touching. The team really showed how much they appreciated their history and that really struck a chord with me. The chants of 'Ole Ole Ole' reminded me of an EPL football match and I think by the end of the thrashing the Habs gave the Bruins, I was on my way to being hooked. Add to it that I loved the city of Montreal from the moment I arrived. It's another city that likes ice--neighborhood rinks dot the city--and when you combine that with a European flair...well, I'm in.

I had a ball in Montreal...and fell for a hockey team while I was there. I can't wait to go back--for the hockey, the food, the wonderful people, all of it. Consider this Catholic girl converted to life as a Montreal Canadiens fan. 'Ole Ole Ole!!'

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch Chelsea FC, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.