Weekend hockey in August, baby!

I’ve been optimizing my summer break and focussing on being outdoors, enjoying the weather with family, canines and friends. The past hockey season was pretty intense, especially the last six weeks of the Habs’ post-season. After they got knocked out of the eastern conference final by the dirty rotten Rangers, I largely ignored Twitter (I mean until free agent frenzy and the PK Subban contract negotiations) and started enjoying real life. I also needed that break to be able to look back at the season without heartache.

This was a rare weekend without the boyfriend. The boyfriend has the patience and understanding of … I don’t know, Jesus. Ghandi. Someone like that. It’s not like he didn’t know what he was getting into. On our I think second date I sat him down to have The Talk. Second date is too soon? I don’t think so. I like to have things crystal clear right up front so as to not waste anybody’s time.

I told him about this thing I have going with the Montreal Canadiens. I very seriously told him that I was a Habs fan. He laughed and said it was okay. And I said, “Nuh-no – it’s not about us liking different teams.” I’m really serious about these guys. How I grew up that way and don’t know any other way of life, and that I watch every game of the season and if they lose, it ruins everything, and if they win, you can’t wipe the smile off my face. How I have a seat from the Montreal Forum, and how I lined up to meet Maurice Richard and how not having a photo with him is one of my life’s biggest regrets. How I have game day rituals that I don’t deviate from until there’s a losing streak. How The Sweater is the first story I read to my kids and they know it off by heart. How I watch Sportscentre highlights on game night, and am capable of rewinding the same play to watch it possibly 15 times. How the Habs news is the first thing I do in the morning, well, the second, after I put on my glasses.

He looked at me and said, “So … you’re obsessed.” Whatever, I thought he ought to know. And it’s been nearly four years, so obviously he’s cool with crazy.

Except really, Habs fans, we know it’s normal, not crazy. Last weekend, a long one in B.C., we spent an idyllic one in the hot desert next to a cool, rushing river, and darted around on dune buggies and walked into the river to fish when the sun was going down. I caught two, by the way! Anyway, the deal is, in the desert wifi is hard to come by. And it was PK Subban contract negotiation weekend. We went up on Thursday, and all the way listening to TSN 690, I was confident I’d wake up Friday to the news of a deal. Except I didn’t. The two sides went to arbitration and all of a sudden I was in the desert freaking out along with the rest of Habs nation, and it was all I could do to put my phone down and try to enjoy myself, without checking Twitter and Eyes on the Prize, the best website on the inter webs, every chance I got. On Saturday morning, I got up to more uncertainty and decided to ignore everything. Going on Twitter was pissing me off, mostly because everyone was talking about how it was the end of the world and we’d see PK Subban in a Leafs sweater in two years all thanks to Marc Bergevin’s ineptitude. This was what upset me the most – Marc Bergevin has not steered us wrong and didn’t all of a sudden become some kind of idiot overnight. Also, the idea of Subban in a Leafs jersey? Spending my weekend throwing up all over the place was not what I had in mind. So I put down my phone.

And I picked it up again at about 11:25. First tweet that caught my eye was by EOTP, that Bob McKenzie (TSN analyst who loves to passive-aggressively crap on the Habs AND Subban) was reporting that a DEAL WAS IMMINENT. My heart stopped. Then, we HAD A DEAL. I was so relieved. We piled into the car to go stock up on groceries, including bison meat in honour of PK. In the car, I asked my daughter a question about this personal wifi she had heard of somewhere, and she was happily chirping out her answer when I got a notification on my phone and screamed, “EIGHT YEAR DEAL!! EIGHT YEAR DEAL!!” I totally interrupted her and felt awful but she understood and we all whoop-whooped and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Anyway fast-track to this weekend. He works out of town and had to this weekend, so I mostly just dedicated myself to housework and cooking. And the Habs. Because I got to. I re-watched, on PVR, the Habs/Bruins series from May. And found myself almost in tears when Subban came out of the penalty box in game 3 to score that gorgeous breakaway goal. Then I did more. I looked on iTunes for TSN 690 podcasts and listened to all of them from the playoffs. I heard most of them in real life, of course, but not all, because I couldn’t when I was at work. I even went down a rabbit hole and after listening to all of Tony Marinaro’s broadcasts with WEEI in Boston, went to find the actual Boston radio podcasts. And what I heard was some pretty rational hockey people, which irritates me because hating Boston fans is one of my favourite things ever. Then I started to think back on last season, and with the exception of the Rangers series which I can’t bring myself to fully relive, I have to say it was one of the most exciting seasons I can remember.

Everybody knows I’m a Therrien fan. I like the guy. He has the least enviable coaching  job of the NHL and handles it with grace. Therrien 2.0, anyway. The guy is not “your buddy” as Bergevin says, the guy is a coach. He is cold, and cool, and he’s in charge. And he’s smart. And I think that after denial and rage by the majority of Habs nation last season, they finally accepted him after they saw how he handled the playoffs. People still slag him every chance they get, but I’m not thinking he cares very much.

And then there’s Bergevin. He has changed the face of this franchise in a very short turnaround. He gets it. It’s in his blood now and this is a driven, passionate, intelligent leader. There was that game last season, you know the one: Washington. The Habs were on a three-game losing streak in January, and then lost to Washington, shut out, 5-0. And they had a closed-door meeting. In my imagination, here’s how it went down. Bergevin went into that room, looked everyone in the eye, and instead of freaking out and threatening to fire people, said: You’re winners. Forget about tonight, sh*t happens. It’s in the books, and nothing you can do about it now. I believe in you. You’re contenders. And the trade deadline is coming up, and … you’re all staying. I’m adding pieces to help you, and I’m not sacrificing a single one of you.

Look, that’s maybe how it happened and maybe it isn’t, but they won eight of their next 12 games – despite Carey’s absence after the Olympics. And got absolutely genius trade deadline acquisitions in Weise, Weaver and Vanek. And didn’t just make the playoffs, they wound up fourth in the conference with 100 points and then went on to win two playoff rounds, including a sweep, and proved to the world that they were not just a goalie when Lord Voldemort made damned sure that Carey Price would not be a factor in the eastern conference final. They took the Rangers to game 6 even though the experts were predicting a sweep after the cruel Price injury. Character. Passion. Skill. Heart.

There is no point to this post other than wanting to write something after spending a lot of the weekend looking back. And now I’m looking forward. There is so much to look forward to. For the first time in many years, Habs fans have something to legitimately look forward to come October. No more wishful thinking. No more pipe dreams. This is it. We’re not talking about rebuilds anymore, not talking about how in five years we can do it. The future is now, as they say, and right now, I have to … go make dinner.

#letsgetit

Christmas in April… It’s Playoffs, Baby

“How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” *

How are all the armchair coaches in Habs Nation doing today? We beat the Leafs. No, we SMOKED them. 4-1. Masterton candidate pulled from the net. 4 unanswered goals, no less. With our backup goalie. In their territory. And Carey was the only one who sat the game out. Therrien, once again, called his own shots, dressed everybody else, and it turns out, made the best decision.

And in the game that Hockey Night in Canada was practically drenching us with their drool over the inevitable Habs / Leafs matchup in a so-called “Forever Rivalry,” for the first round after the Leafs beat the Habs to a bloody pulp in the so-called “Game 1” of that series… we won.

We did it with Markov.
We did it without Price.
We did it with Whitey, Patches and Lars!
And the Leafs puzzled three hours, ’till Kadri’s whiny face was sore.
Then haters from Habs Nation thought of something they hadn’t before!
Maybe this team, they thought, doesn’t give up when down.

Maybe this team… perhaps… doesn’t give a crap that they’re midgets and small and doesn’t listen to Toronto trash-talk or CBC or PJ Stock or Glen Healy or all the moaners talking about how they’re going to get swept in 4 in Round 1 and how it’s already time to hit the golf course, and can play their game and focus on only themselves.

I felt a little earthquake last night when all the haters hopped back on the bandwagon. Settle in, guys. It’s gonna be a great ride.

* Credit, obviously, to the brilliant Theodor Seuss Geisel’s “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Middle Age, Flowers, Mussolini and the Montreal Canadiens

Bullet points. Topics all over the place this time.

  • I had another birthday, and my son came home this week from school, bursting with the news that he’d learned in Science that middle-aged people who look much younger live really long lives! 
  • Middle aged? Nice. Reminds me of the time that my daughter started a sentence with, “Mom, when you were in school in the olden days…” and my son stood up for me and said, “Hey! It wasn’t the olden days!!” and she sighed and said, “Olden days, golden days, whatever.”
  • The bf brought me flowers, and they’re now super wilty but I don’t want to throw them away. I love when he brings me flowers, but every time I have to throw them out, I want to cry. Sap.
  • It took three bullet points before mentioning the Habs. I was there, with the bf, for the Bruins game April 6th in Montreal. Not gonna really break down the whole visit, but I saw a lot of awesome friends again, and the Habs won. More on them later.
  • Oh, one thing about the Montreal visit was we absolutely had to go visit a church in Little Italy, as directed by the bf’s family matriarch, that reportedly houses a portrait of Mussolini on a horse. Okay. So we rented a car to see the city because we didn’t have a lot of time to cover a lot of ground and it was way cheaper than catching cabs, and although the initial plan was to walk everywhere, Arctic weather and ears that were about to fall off precluded that. So we got our car and got the tip of which church it was, on Henri-Julien, so I plugged it into my GPS app and we were off. It was a horrible afternoon of traffic in Montreal and my stupid app took us down St-Denis, which we now know was a terrible idea. We were stuck on that street for freaking ever, the bf was dying of hunger as he does whenever he hasn’t eaten in two hours, then we got on a “freeway” that was so congested that we both were saying that this stupid church had better be worth it, and then we were finally a block away from our destination, and I looked down the street and said, “Um, I don’t see a church.” So, that’s because I directed us to SAINT JULIEN instead of Henri-Julien and we were somewhere in Montreal Nord instead of anywhere close to Little Italy. That was a funny storynot. We finally made our way to the correct street and the first order of business was getting some minestrone before the bf expired, and then we went to the church.
  • It was closed, but it was really pretty from the outside. I said we’d laugh about it later, and we did.
  • Another thing about that trip was the flight back home. We had an 8:30am flight, you take what you get when you book on points, and were on no sleep. We had a layover in Edmonton, and after sleeping the whole way there, we were descending and as we were about to touch down, I opened the window and saw miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of snowy prairie. The bf said, “Close it, close it!” Poor Edmonton. Had an unexpected extra hour there so we had a steak and salad at the airport. I was talking to our server and I asked what the temperature was out there, and he said, “Who cares? Look at it. It’s April.” Sums it up.
  • The Edmonton/Vancouver flight started off with sitting down and hearing this adorable little voice in the seat behind me chirping away. Super cute little girl. For a while. She kept on saying, “Mommy, I need dinner!” Crash. Down goes the table on the back of my chair. “Mommy, I’m not hungry!” Thunk. Up goes the table on the back of my chair. “I need dinner!” Crash. “I’m not hungry!” Thunk. “Dinner!” “Not hungry!” Crash. Thunk. Crash, thunk. Crash-thunk-crash-thunk-crash-thunk and I was thinking, this isn’t going to END WELL!!!!!! And then her mother mercifully put a movie on for the child and I didn’t have to kill anyone. But she was really cute.
  • Okay, so the Habs. Here’s the thing. They’ve had a craptastic week. But they’re in the playoffs, having ensured a post-season 10 days before any of the other teams that only got theirs last night. And they’re still in 1st place in their division. And second in the East, only to the Penguins. And the “fans” are planning mass suicides all over the place. I want to scream.
  • Oh, there’s a little birdie on my deck checking out the birdhouse I have out there for show because I keep it empty on account of once I had birdseed in a shed at my old house and when I went to check it, there was a dead rat in the bag. Sorry, birdie. I hate rats more than I like birds.
  • So anyway, the idiot fans at the Bell Centre last night were booing our team that lost to the Capitals. Ovechkin was saying after the game that the Habs have a good team, and they’d already clinched their playoff spot, and they’re saving themselves for the playoffs. I happen to agree with this. It sucks to watch us lose, but we’ve been treated to so much good hockey this season, winning so much that I kind of started missing losing, because losing makes winning more delicious, and winning just got to be a given. Then they clinched the playoff spot that so many Montreal fans with crystal balls had said was unattainable this year before even watching a single game. These are the “fans” that have been waiting all season for an implosion just so they can smugly tell us all that this was what they’d told us would happen.
  • All the morons abusing Carey Price on Twitter are stupid not only because they don’t know how to spell, but they’re idiots because they actually think Carey is checking Twitter.
  • I was watching the locker room interviews this morning. One reporter didn’t even get to finish his, “Are you worr-” question before Carey cut him off and said, “No.” Like he went on to say, there is a far bigger picture than what has happened since by the way they clinched their goddamned playoff spot last week and wildly exceeded all expectations on this season after finishing in LAST PLACE last year and everyone can just shut the hell up. Paraphrasing.
  • Here’s what’s gonna happen. The Habs couldn’t care less who they’re seeing in Round 1, as opposed to every fan who’s quaking in his/her boots over the possibility of playing the Leafs. They may even start on the road, which would be fitting, since the faction of “fans” who can do nothing but abuse the team, and particularly Carey Price, after an amazing record this season, don’t deserve to be treated to games 1 and 2 at home. And then, the Habs are gonna light it up, and sweep whomever they meet in the first round, and the bandwagonners will hop back on and then, if the Habs win the Cup, I hope Carey takes it and shoves it up their collective butts.
  • I wish I had opinions about things.
  • We’re going to Florida to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, which around here lately is pronounced as all one word. Thewizardingworldofharrypotteratuniversalstudios. Who books a holiday outside of Canada during the first round of the NHL playoffs? This genius. I’ve been assured I will be able to see the games down there. If not, there’s an app for my iPad, right? Advice welcome.
  • My daughter’s class is doing reports on famous Canadians, and she’s doing hers on Jean Beliveau. They were given a list of Canadians to choose from, and she chose Joni Mitchell until her mother almost had a stroke then changed her mind to Jean Beliveau, because she wants to stay in the family. Now, she’s fretting about filling the 500-word requirement. Is this teacher kidding? I’d use more than that in just the introduction. This post has already exceeded 1300 and I haven’t really said anything!
  • I love Joni Mitchell too, don’t get me wrong.
  • We went  to tour the Bell Centre in Montreal on game day. We didn’t get in to the locker room, which was what I MOST wanted to see, but they don’t show the locker room on game days, understandably. Do you know why? Because staff brings the team’s equipment from Brossard where they practice and dries it out in the locker room, cranking the heat up to 50 degrees. That’s celsius, U.S. friends, and that’s HOT. Like, Egypt-hot. Must smell wonderful.
  • So we were in the Bell Centre, and got to see the Alumni Room, where any retired Hab can go to eat and watch the game or just have beers and play cards, whenever they want, for life. There’s a couch in there that’s exclusively for Mr. and Mrs. Beliveau. I’m making sure my daughter puts that in her report.
  • I went to Costco yesterday, noon on a Saturday, and the parking lot was absolutely insane, but I scored a spot that was right there by the front doors. Manifesting rock-star parking always precedes wonderfully good luck for me. Which is why I know the Habs are going to be great in the playoffs. Book it.

Speaking of noon, it’s now noon here and that means the kids are up and I have to go. Everybody have a great day and week! I will!

Radar Love

So, yesterday was weird.

It started out like many other mornings on this spring break that I have off work – my nearly 2-year old puppy has mastered the art of sleeping in, and now doesn’t rise until I do. Which yesterday was at about 9am. And then I switched on my Tunein Radio app to listen to TSN 690 in Montreal. Actually, I set the app to start recording the station at 3am my time, then when I get up I listen to the whole morning show on delay. I put on the headphones, take the dog out and for a run, all the while listening to Montreal deejays, their guests and callers.

Here’s what’s weird. It was game day, Montreal to play Boston in Boston later that evening, but it seemed like all anyone could talk about was this Iginla trade that was ruminating. And the gossip was that he was going to the Bruins. And then, all anyone could talk about was the Bruins and the Penguins, who had made a few key moves ahead of the trade deadline. And all this screamed to everyone was stacking up for the playoffs. Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. BruinsPenguinsBruinsPenguins. Blah blah blah.

You know who’s never a part of any conversation? The Habs. No one pays them any attention. The Habs? Oh, man, they suck, not only did they not even make the playoffs last year, they sucked so badly that they couldn’t even suck enough to get a good chance at the first-round draft pick as a result of their suckage. Last year, the Habs were horrible, and painful to watch.

Last year.

Let’s talk about last year, and how the Bruins were on their way to a dynasty to win the Stanley Cup again. The Bruins won their cup in 2011 against the Canucks –  in Vancouver following a horribly disappointing blow-out in Game 7. Those same Bruins had only barely made it past the first round in overtime of Game 7 with the Habs – the Habs who were minus many key players, including F Max Pacioretty who was recovering from a murder attempt the previous month. The Bruins were one goal away from being sent home by this injury-riddled team. Just one goal.

But WOOOOOOW the Bruins were on their way again! Trumpeted from all the sports outlets! Oh, but then they got knocked out in the first round though, and by the way so did the Canucks, who got knocked out by barely-eighth-place Los Angeles.

And now, the Penguins, and not the Bruins, have acquired Jarome Iginla, Iggy, who was the real star of that Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics.

Let me back up – so yes, it was a beautiful, warm spring day, and the bf came over and we took the dog for a hike up at the lake. I did something I seldom do, even though I had the opportunity to watch a Habs game live; I decided to record it and watch it later on delay. (P.S. That was hard. It meant not looking at Twitter, not reading my texts, and then, after the lake, we decided to hit up a pub for some dinner, and at the last moment I realized the Habs game was on T.V. there. The bf went in first to make sure they weren’t playing the audio, then backed me in to a table and a chair where I wouldn’t be able to see the game. It reminded me of that How I Met Your Mother episode where the gang decided to PVR the Super Bowl then had to go all day avoiding the score.)

So anyway, we got home, turned on the game, and it was a hell of a game. The Habs were up 2-0, the second by P.K. Subban, widely detested in Boston – then deflated in the 2nd period to trail 4-2. And then. They came out in the 3rd, and after scoring and giving up another goal, scored twice more to tie – the tying goal in the waning seconds of the period, scored by none other than Boston captain Chara. That’s right. Chara scored for the Habs, in his own building, to tie the game. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

AND THEN OH MY GOD THE RECORDING ENDED. We flipped furiously to TSN to see the overtime highlights, and found out that the Habs had indeed won, again, against Boston, in Boston, in the shootout. Glorious. Glorious.

TSN then went live to hear Jay Feaster’s press conference about Iginla’s trade to Pittsburgh, not Boston, as initially reported.

I got this text from one of my pals: “Craziness, Pittsburgh…just give them the damn cup already.”

OK FINE: Let’s talk about Pittsburgh. Yes, they have Sidney Crosby, widely trumpeted on all the networks as the “greatest hockey player on the planet,” and now they have Iginla. But you know what? They still have Marc André Fleury, too. And Pittsburgh, on a 12-game winning streak, only barely beat Montreal the day before yesterday – and got wildly outplayed by Montreal, to boot. Last time they met, Pittsburgh only won by one goal as well – after letting in 6. So they have Iginla now. Will make it even better to watch, as far as I’m concerned.

Let’s talk about Boston. Last time they met Montreal, they lost, after giving up a lead, in their own building. Nothing but excuses after that loss. And after having umpty-ump games in hand against Montreal, I think it was five, during which they’d smoke us in the standings…are now within one point of the Habs with only one game in hand. And they lost last night to what should have been a tired Habs team.

And the Habs are still firmly in 2nd place in the East.

And are not showing any signs of quitting, not showing any signs of giving up in tough contests.

And only 31 games into the season did they finally concede two consecutive games in regulation.

Am I the only one who thinks Boston’s losing it? I mean, by the same token, they ARE in 4th in the conference, but I don’t know, I feel like they’re losing their confidence. They’re not playing with the same swagger, and do nothing but whine after losses. This year, the Habs’ motto is “Pas d’Excuses/No Excuses,” and all the Bruins seem to have is excuses.

No one is talking about Montreal. That’s okay. No one talked about them either in 2010, other than to predict that Washington would knock them out of the playoffs. Oh, and then to predict that Pittsburgh would knock them out. Which neither was able to do.

And this year, we also have a new system, a new coach, a new GM, and what seems to be great chemistry and a team that doesn’t give up. In so many games this year, they’ve come back from a deficit to tie or win, where last year they would have given up. With all the trade deadline talk and stacking up for the playoffs…I have a feeling Marc Bergevin is either going to make some incredibly big move, or no move at all.

Fine by me that this little team is flying under the radar. This little team, many of whose own fans were matter-of-factly stating before the puck even dropped on this shortened season that the Habs wouldn’t even make the playoffs. No one’s talking about them. I have a feeling that Bergevin might actually like it that way. Let ’em talk. I mean um, not talk.

So, what a difference a year makes. For every team. New year, new season. Keep your predictions, and I’ll keep enjoying watching the Habs and believing.

(The Habs beat the Bruins! Again! And guess what – they next time they meet, I will be there. I’m so excited, I could throw up!)

The Opinions Expressed Here Are Strictly My Own, You Big Silly.

You guys, obviously Geoff Molson reads my blog. Because last Sunday I called him out for not hiring a new GM yet, and the very next day, he did.

I’m still learning about the new guy, and from what I’ve read and after seeing the presser, I like him – I’m excited. Molson is actually kind of a genius because he has appeased all the sensibilities of the francophone militants – the new guy, Marc Bergevin, is a Montrealer who is bilingual – so that’s covered. Bergevin also happens to have management and scouting on his resume, being part of an organization when it has won the Cup, and…a personality? This is personally my favourite part. He’s young and fresh and played NHL hockey for 2 decades, and during the onslaught of speculation of who the new GM would be, he was very respectfully spoken of and his qualifications lauded on the radio. God bless Pierre McGuire, who was the runner-up for the job, and who the radio station I listen to, TSN990 in Montreal, unabashedly schilled for the second the vacancy was announced. People on Twitter love to hate Tony Marinaro, but I don’t – more on that later – and in my opionion it was Conor McKenna who was most constant in his promotion of McGuire. It just kind of made me feel icky. I don’t even get why McGuire got that close, to be honest. So he knows people. What does that have to do with the price of…what’s the saying? Anyway, he didn’t get the job and TSN990 still cannot go a day without mentioning him.

Kind of like how I don’t get why everyone and their mother matter-of-factedly think Patrick Roy will be named as the next coach. Why? Why. I simply do not understand. Yes, he was a great goalie, perhaps the best the Habs ever had (by far not the classiest though), and yes, he obviously would give his eyetooth for a chance to coach in the NHL. He himself has been in the press answering all kinds of questions ever since the speculation began, reminding everyone that his ringer’s always on. My personal opionion of this guy is not positive, to say the least, as far as his character is concerned. I recently rewatched that brawl between the Sagueneens and the Roy-coached Remparts, where Roy Jr. went off like a demented rabid animal on the Sagueneens goalie, who was as far from the action as he could get without leaving the ice; and it still makes me sick. And I will never forget or forgive Roy for how he turned his back on the franchise. Sure, Tremblay and Houle could have handled it better, but Roy went against the family in public – like a spoiled kid. There is much more that can be said but I don’t like to talk about him too much; and I just hate how his name is always on everyone’s lips for the coaching job. I really, really, really hope he doesn’t get chosen. There are way more guys out there with actual NHL coaching qualifications to choose from (or poach, even). I really hope that Molson isn’t considering a hot-headed egomaniacal coach with no NHL coaching experience to turn the last place team in the East around.

As for Tony, I actually like him. We all know someone like him, and he’s just a guy with a radio show. The guy’s not Idi Amin. Some people vehemently dislike him but continue to listen to him, which is obviously to Marinaro’s credit. He talks about soccer too much for my taste, but I can’t blame him for that, of course. He’s on a sports station. The things I like the least about his show is all that Italian music he plays or even when he sings. Everything else I don’t mind, and actually like. I like having a radio station that I can listen to the moment I wake up in the morning that is talking about Montreal sports. I seldom am aware of what’s going on in the city I actually live in because I can’t get enough Habs news. Oh but Tony, if you’re reading, I do have a little feedback for you: don’t remind everyone of when you had a scoop and it turned out you were right. I’m happy for you that you were right, but you knew you were right, and eventually everyone who attacked you knew you were right, so there’s no need to remind everyone. It’s unbecoming, and one reason I dislike that so much is because Don Cherry does it all the time. I can understand you wanting to remind all the people who attack you that you were right, but in the end, who really cares about them. You’re still the one with the show, you’re still the one people are listening to (even, apparently, when they don’t like it), and I like you. You seem like a nice person, and it does take character to put up with the abuse you get on Twitter. I’m on your side.

Now that we seem to know who the Assistant GM is, who’s going to be the next coach? This will be huge. And, as with every year, fans will be critical from the first moment anything negative happens. Hell, a lot of fans are critical even when nothing negative has happened.

No pressure, Bergevin. No pressure. Welcome to Montreal.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

I’ve been on a Stevie Nicks kick for about a week. You know how when you hear something you haven’t heard in a long time then go into a phase? Like that. It started when she was on American Idol last week or maybe the week before – she was “consulting” with the contestants. Whenever anyone else consults they look like an ass and it’s obvious they’re there as filler so Idol can greedily gobble up as much airtime as possible. Not so with Stevie. She cares. And she’s awesome.

I’ll bet you think this post is going to be about 30-year old music you probably haven’t even heard of and how ancient I am. It’s not. It’s about the Habs. Of course.

No matter what generation you’re from, there will be a point in your life when all the music you hear you think directly applies to you. Like, “Oh, my god, they looked into my soul, saw what that rat-bastard who said he loved me and would love me forever was saying and doing behind my back, and then they wrote this song.”

So it’s funny, but listening to Stevie, I started thinking – all of this applies to a very high-highs, low-lows, tumultuous relationship I’ve had for the past six months.  A heart-wrenching, sickening relationship. The kind that makes me laugh, and cry, and want to throw up from the anxiety.

My dysfunctional relationship with the Habs.

We all know that this season has been a write-off since about January, and although I claimed to hold onto hope and have faith in mes boys, I had that 1,000 pound rock in my stomach that knew otherwise.

“So you had a little trouble in town,
Now you’re keeping some demon down,
Stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my heart a-round”

It’s totally what they did, although I’m sure it was unintentional. Get me hoping, like waiting-by-the-phone-waiting-for-it-to-frigging-ring hoping, lifting my hopes with decisive wins and stringing them all together like popcorn, only to send me crashing back down to earth when they decided my feelings didn’t matter anymore. Heart. Draggin’. All OVAH.

But during those moments when I realized everything the Habs were doing was not actually all about me, I got a little maternal and my heart just squished for them.

Imagine this bunch of guys, and the B.S. they’ve been put through by their fans, by the media, by management, coaches, everything – I can really only count maybe 3 or 4 games this year that I thought they were phoning it in. And I had admiration. I felt their hopes rise when their coach finally got canned about a season too late, and loved them as they stood by their new coach and fought hard for him. Under their new coach, they got to communicate and were also communicated to. They started scoring goals, lots. And enjoyed getting to score even when they had a lead. I was so happy for them.

They had a bunch of wins in a row then, for the first time in forever, and it felt like all we could do was win. And there came a point in the season when they had about 24 games left, and they could still make they playoffs if they kept streaking and won 17 out of 24 at least. I could tell they wanted it. My heart started hoping and believing they would do it. Seventeen.

But from the moment that I first laid
Eyes
on
him
all alone on the edge of
Seventeen

I remember that magic number.

Then we saw it dissipate before our very eyes. We were all fed up, screaming for a house-cleaning of monumental proportions, from the TOP DOWN GODDAMMIT, and just…what were they even waiting for? We’re talking about the “Yankees of Hockey” – and a franchise that had become a laughingstock. It was sickening and embarrassing. With the apologies for hiring an anglophone coach, who they pretty much cut off at the knees even before he coached his first game, by telling everyone he was temporary. Nice.

I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted that job. But take it he did, that Randy Cunneyworth, and despite the cries for his head and harrumphing over his lack of acceptable language skills, he held his head high, and even shyly tried out a brief French phrase when meeting his would-be lynch mob face-to-face: “Je suis tres content”. It was such a sweet phrase. He won me over. I was already on his side, truth be told – I always take the side of the guy who’s being treated shabbily. Always. Especially in this instance – he wants to coach these guys he cares about, but all anyone, or at least the squeakiest wheels, could talk about was the fact that he couldn’t speak French. I thought, and tweeted, that if I were Cunneyworth, I’d tell them all to shove their French up their butts and coach my team and do what was actually important – win games and communicate with the players. Not communicate with the media. What the hell was this? This was supposed to be about hockey. Then I’d take my last paycheque at the end of the year, flip everyone the bird (no I wouldn’t but I’d want to), and go get a better job in a different market.

And the rest of the NHL world was clapping with glee at another reason to make fun of us. The stupid language debate. And the team got behind their coach, with Carey even saying during interview something to the effect of, “gee, sorry I’m not francophone, I’m just trying to tend goal,” and the like.

It was not lost on me that some of the most derisive scoffers were Leafs fans. For a time, it appeared the Leafs were in a playoff position. And astoundingly, these fans of this team who had for the seven previous years not even made it to the post-season, and whose team had not won a Stanley Cup since the NINETEEN SIXTIES!! felt entitled to be in a position to look down their nose at us.

Hey Leafs fans, whatcha gonna do with that parade you were planning, btw? Maybe dress the Leafs like bunnies and call it an Easter parade.

After that inevitable, crushing game where we were finally officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it was just a couple of days until the Habs’ owner, the fully bilingual Geoff Molson, held a press conference and announced that the General Manager and Bob Gainey were leaving the organization. And he talked about the franchise. The storied franchise. And restoring it to glory. And doing right by the fans, the best fans in the sport. And about how winning is the only acceptable outcome; how simply qualifying for the playoffs is not the goal, the ultimate goal is the only prize; every season; no lesser standard can be accepted. The Cup. End of.

The speech, carefully delivered in both French and then English, gave me chills. It was brilliant.

Then I wanted to eat my own head when I heard the first question of the Q&A: have you decided that the ideal profile for the new GM be that he is bilingual?

Molson’s response made me want to leap out of my seat and fist pump in the air (but I couldn’t because I was listening in my car while driving to work but I screamed out a YAAAAHOOOO!) – “Um, um… la réponse est NON.” Of course, being in Québec it will be nice for the eventual selected candidate to speak French, but he carefully would not say it was a requirement. Just a nice-to-have. Lots of people listening on Twitter were saying he was being sneaky, and to read between the lines, but let’s not forget: this is the guy who gave his blessing to a “uningual anglophone” coach in this market; interim or not. I’m quite liking the cojones on this guy. And how many years have the Leafs been sucking in general, for example, and how long has Burke had his job? Molson basically gave his brass 2 seasons. Then he did what was right. AND, seemingly and genuinely (to me) listening to the fans. The guy opened a Twitter account, for god’s sake. He also made some veiled digs at the exiting GM, saying that the new one had to be an “excellent communicator.”  The last guy was not so much with the communicating. With anyone. And the dude was bilingual.

Now, all the names being bandied about since the presser thus far are French, but there has been no selection or announcement made by the Habs organization, and Molson made clear that the selection and process would be completely confidential – and refused to bow to the francophone-requirement questioning. “La priorité #1 est trouver la meilleure personne.”

Molson’s response to another question: ” The third element, which is difficult to quantify, that undying desire to win…at all costs.”

I’m crossing my fingers that they go out and find the best, most kick-ass person for the job. I don’t care if he speaks 14 languages, or only one. And I believe that this team, with so much character, who could have thrown in the towel weeks ago (hi Leafs), but have had a great few last games, even winning 5-2 tonight, have got the stuff now.

Markov is back.

Gionta will be back.

Carey is still focussed.

Pacioretty, Desharnais and Cole give us all reasons to celebrate.

Subban is developing beautifully.

And we could get a terrific draft pick!

Can you feel it? It’s just early days of Spring, but I smell October. I smell it. The old coach and the old, pasty GM devoid of any character or personality or affection for the team are GONE. There’s all kinds of possibilities now. And I can’t think that the core bunch of guys on this team, who continue to show that they care even in the twilight of this black season, will do anything but change things around for us.

Stand back, stand back!

Just 2 more games now. Last one’s against the Leafs. I don’t care about what the stats say or what the standings say – Saturday will be fun. And beating the Leafs will be VERY fun. I will continue to watch every second of hockey that the Habs have left.

And it’s going to be an exciting off-season too, non-hockey readers. Sorry. There will be blog posts.

Life is Just a Fantasy

Image

Check it. It’s written by yours truly to Twitter, the night before the Habs were due to play in Vancouver.

And GUESS FREAKING WHAT.

I know, it’s been two weeks, and I really should have blogged about March 10th, the night the Habs played in Vancouver, the night I look forward to all year, way before now. However, mama’s been busy, like way busier than usual even, and then it seemed like old news and way too late to blog, but then the Habs won in regulation last night for the first time since March 10th, and I saw a tie-in opportunity, so here we are.

So I voiced my private fantasy to Twitter, that my very favourite player on the Habs who I have this (un)secret thing for, would play for the first time in 16 months on the very and only night I could be present to see him. And oh, Andrei. Didn’t you just.

Of course I’m no sort of clairvoyant, Andrei had been travelling with the team and rumours had been running rampant the whole road trip, and I could never decide if the rumours made my heart sing, or break. And then, the day or two before the game in Vancouver, no one was talking much about it, and I thought “it’s too quiet”. I felt something was up. And then I tweeted my tweet. It was met with the usual “dream on” and Mr. Injury Prone responses, but I held onto my dream.

The next morning the rumours were back, and I told everyone to can it because my heart couldn’t take it. And then, the Habs confirmed it. Andrei had been taken off the injury list. He wasn’t confirmed to play, however, just off the injury list. I said to myself, “self, you’re going to see Andrei on the ice tonight. And you will be there. And he will be there. And you’ll BOTH BE THERE.” As if they’d make that big announcement if they had no intention of playing him. I even took  the trouble to post it to Facebook, which I’m never even on anymore.

I was actually ill with excitement and anticipation. Well, I was also just ill. I’d been hit with a sledgehammer of a cold or bronchitis or the plague or something just a few days earlier and was still feeling awful but no longer like I was dying and I was popping Benylins like popcorn because there was no way I was staying home and missing the Habs play in Vancouver and there was NO WAY I was missing Markov’s return.

I was also faced with a dilemma. I had said I was wearing my #67 jersey for the game, had actually been planning to ever since I’d acquired it the previous summer. Max Pacioretty, a prince among men, had recovered from a murder attempt exactly 1 year and 2 days earlier, and had rebounded way beyond anyone’s expectations, scoring his THIRTIETH goal of the season just 2 days earlier, on the anniversary of the hit that could have ended his life, let alone his career. Max. Max knows how I feel about him and I decided if I made a last minute wardrobe decision and wore the Markov jersey, he would understand. Anyone who can forgive the man who tried to kill him would forgive me for wearing my #79 jersey in honour of Andrei’s first game back.

I have one in red, and one in white. I wanted to make extra-sure they’d be in their away jerseys that night (last year they wore red) because I wanted to match, and once it had been confirmed to me by various Twitter friends, I laid my white one out, got ready, and went downtown early so I could grab a good spot down at ice level for warmups.

This is how early I got there.

And I got a pretty good spot.

I also got some video of when they took to the ice for warmup:

It was magic. The guys skating right by me, mere inches from where my face was practically pressed against the glass. Oh and guess what? Remember how last year when I went, Max shot pucks right at me from across the ice? Well, this year, I was sitting there furiously trying to tweet out a really great picture that I got, and the lady beside me poked me in the ribs and said, “I think Max is saying hi to you.” And once again, there he was, shooting pucks at me. You guys.

When the guys skate by, they’re all professional and focused on warming up and pretend they don’t see zillions of fans in the CH gawking and picture taking. The next time Max skated by, I grinned and waved furiously at him. And I swear, he looked.

There won’t be a game recap, but it was a beauty. Markov was back for the first time since November 2010, Price was on FIRE, Staubitz fought, White tried to get into a few skirmishes, Subban got a goal, and Vancouver only got to celebrate ONCE. It was more than I could have ever asked for.

When the 3rd started and we got another goal right away, the Canucks faithful started leaving in droves. I hmphed. Even 3 years ago when the Habs got spanked 7-1, I still stayed until the very end. I did this time too, and was treated to the triple low five and the 3 stars…all Habs. Of course.

I recorded the game so I could re-watch when I got home, with commentary. Damn, Habs fans are loud. I’ve set the game to delete “never”. Never ever.

Life is just a fantasy.

Dear Max

Dear Max,

You don’t know me but I know all about you. Not to sound creepy.

I’ve been following you since that July day when you were drafted to my beloved hockey team, the Montreal Canadiens. I saw your proud face in the picture, so smart in your tie, and the first thing that struck me was the hint of a grin on your face and a mischievous glint in your eye, and the second thing was that you and my then 6-year-old son share the same first name. I always instantly “adopt” anyone who plays on my team, but sharing my boy’s name made you a little more special. I was looking forward to seeing you on the ice wearing the coolest jersey in the league. I was so delighted for you that your very first sweater would be the one that most every kid who grows up playing hockey dreams of wearing one day.

I watched you play your first game, thinking, “I like the new guy!” The kids and I would always cheer a little extra for you when you got a point (“Woohoo! MAX!”) and we’d miss seeing you when you played for the Bulldogs.

Last year when you played your amazing stretch for them, lighting up the AHL, I was excited to see you back in Montreal and seeing what you’d surely accompish there. When I heard your radio interview where you candidly said you were more than happy to stay exactly where you were, so you could PLAY, I was so proud of you. And you made me laugh. But I have to admit I worried your words would make it even harder for me to see you again, since I couldn’t imagine that the Habs’ brass would be too happy with your point of view.

They shocked me by doing the smart thing anyway, bringing you back to the NHL and giving you the ice time to put your money where your mouth was. And did you ever. Such a pleasure to watch you, see your grin, and give so much cause for Habs fans to celebrate, time and time again.

I’ll never forget January 8, 2011 during the game against the Bruins – I had to leave home in the middle of the 2nd period, to go to attend a Canucks game. I’m not a Canucks fan, but when the boss invites you as one of his guests in the corporate suite, you just don’t say no. Anyway, I left home, and we were down 2-0. The Habs/Bruins matchups, as you well know, are the ones that fans of both teams look forward to all season. And being down 2-0 had me bummed out, not gonna lie. I listened in my car on the way to Rogers Arena and hopes got dashed for any comeback. I got to the suite, and turned the TV on just in time to catch Gomez’s power play goal and that got me crossing all my fingers and toes as the seconds ticked away in the game. When Gionta scored the tying goal with your assist, I’m pretty sure they could hear my whooping and hollering all the way in Montreal. When you scored the OT winner, I’m pretty sure my family could hear me. In Chile, I mean. That look on your face as PK came to jump on you! I was jumping around so much I didn’t notice that you’d tapped the hulking Chara on the back until later when they played back the reason he got so upset. Not gonna lie, it made me snicker. Big deal! I realize he and his whole team had just been humiliated in Montreal, which has got to be the worst for them, so it was kind of the last thing Chara needed from you, but I mean, it’s not like you hurt anything but his pride. And we the fans had just been treated to a heck of a game, and bragging rights to a perfect season against the Bruins so far.

The next matchup against the Bruins was on February 9th. Oh good lordy what a spectacle that game was! 14 goals in total, fights and penalties galore! I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Two of the best goalies were taking turns letting goals in minutes apart, and the towering Bruins couldn’t wait to start fights with any old Hab that crossed their paths. Chara was after you that game – I particularly thought his slash to the back of your legs, which had to hurt, was in pretty poor form. But it was very clear that Mr. Chara holds a grudge, and was not going to let up until he got you back for tapping him in the back the previous month. He was thirsting for your blood during the big brawl, and I was elated to see that this 7’5″ or whatever he is, 255-pound, 33-year old did not get the piece of you he clearly intended that night. The 8-6 loss really hurt, as you know every loss does, but it does stink when Bruins fans gloat over beating us. They have to enjoy it you know, because they  don’t get to gloat over us very often. But this loss – they were acting as though they beat us 8-0.

I saw you up close and in person when you were in Vancouver on February 22. Did you hear me screaming “Max!!!” every time you skated by me? I was the loud Chilean at ice-level during warmups, snapping furiously away on my pink camera. You did shoot a puck at the boards precisely in my direction – twice. Come on…do you remember?

When you guys played Tampa Bay last Saturday and you scored twice in the 4-2 win, I tweeted this:

I honestly don’t know what I enjoy more – your goals, or your ear-to-ear grin. OK, the goals. But the grin’s worth a million dollars.

On Tuesday, March 8th, Habs nation was excited. The Bruins were back in Montreal. I started the day listening to Tony Marinaro on the Team 990. He played a recording of his interview with a Boston radio station, where they were loudly, interruptingly and obnoxiously trying to goad him into an argument, talking about how Habs are dirty, how the Habs started all the fights at the last meeting, how the Habs are dive-artists, the worst in the league. Because clearly, the Bruins, in their eyes, play a perfect, flawless, respectful style of hockey. Snort. Tony handled himself with a lot of class. I would not have. Then Twitter was all a-twitter with quotes from some dude in Boston who was tweeting quotes from Merchant, Marchant, whatever his name is, trash-talking the Habs. I forget where I first heard the term, but he was sure acting like quite the disrespectful rookie. It was clear the Bruins were riling everyone up for hopefully another eventful game that would involve a whole lot more than simply playing hockey. The Habs weren’t biting. The only agenda that evening would be to play our game, skate, be disciplined, score and beat the Bruins as usual. Early in the game Ryan White had to take matters into his own hands when…I wanna say Bergeron, went after PK Subban. White won his fight hands down, and got an instigator penalty (what?!). It doesn’t matter. The Bruins turned up absolutely bubkus during their power play.

In fact, they turned up absolutely bubkus from then on. Haha. They were making tons of mistakes and looking worse and worse as the Habs put in goal after goal. Lars Eller was having such a special evening, putting in two goals, and Gio and Wiz put in a couple of power play goals, and my friends and I were high fiving and woop-wooping all over the place.

I’m back. I had to go away for a few minutes because what I’m about to write you makes me very emotional. As the seconds were ticking down at the end of the second period, you went racing after the puck after a faceoff. The enormous Zdeno Chara went racing off after you. He knows what you’re capable of, and the man still had that axe to grind with you. You were not playing the puck, and this veteran decided to take what in his experience he knew was going to be a penalty for an illegal hit, but was gonna be so worth the penalty. The rest seemed to happen in slow motion.

Max, I cannot tell you how I felt when I saw you knocked out cold on the ice. The close up of your face, your lashes giving me for a tenth of a second, the vision of my own Max’s thick black eyelashes on his cheeks when he slept as a baby. My eyes filled with tears, because it’s awful to say, but I thought Zdeno Chara had just killed you. And it chilled my blood to see him defiantly skating away from your crumpled body, surely finally satisfied that you’d gotten what you deserved. I was sickened, disgusted, and horrified, thinking what your parents must have been going through, their beloved son on the ice after what the replay showed to be a devastating, crippling hit. I saw your eyelids flutter and my heart leapt. It seemed to take forever for the team of doctors, and your teammates, to load you onto that stretcher. There are tears in my eyes as I write this now. I cannot imagine, and it breaks my heart to think about, what this absolutely gut-wrenching sickening few moments was like for your loved ones.

Your team went on to handily win the game, but all anyone could think about was you. No one cared about the win, no one cared about the Bruins.

I went to sleep that night only to find that sleep would not come. I was so furious and enraged over the most disgusting thing I’d seen in all my years of watching hockey. It was made all the worse because it stemmed from what seemed to me to be a filthy, vengeful move over a silly gesture made during a celebratory moment 2 months earlier. I could not get over my rage, and somehow found sleep while my rational side told me I’d be cooler in the morning. Well, I wasn’t. If anything, I was angrier in the morning. My first thought was of you. When we received the news that you had a serious concussion and a broken vertebra, all I could think about was you, your family, the team…and the thought that surely, Mr. Chara would be unable to live with himself, and what he did to the season of such a promising young player.

What ensued these past couple of days has been discussed ad nauseum so I won’t rehash it here. But I and the rest of the Habs’ and your fierce fans have been following every moment. Rejoicing over the news that you could speak and were using your limbs. Hi-fiving and celebrating the news that you were walking around. Astonished over the news you’d gone and checked yourself out of the hospital 2 days after having your neck broken. Truly we should not have been surprised. The day after having your ribs cracked this year, you were all, “what? I’m playing tonight.” I cried again when I heard your emotional statement to Bob McKenzie of TSN, and I was also once again SO PROUD of you for speaking candidly.

Max, I want to take this opportunity to say, on behalf of Habs fans who have been living and breathing every snippet of news about you for the past 100 hours, we love you. We fervently wish for your complete recovery, and are looking forward to seeing you back with our boys when that day comes. We are proud of you and you are in our hearts.

Love,

Veronica

Les Boys et Moi…One Magical February Evening

Haven’t blogged in nearly 2 months. You know how when you have that thing you have to do and then you don’t do it and the more you don’t do it the more you feel bad but you still don’t do it and then it just gets worse and worse? Blogging is like that for me. No one is obligating me to do it but I feel bad when I don’t do it. I actually have a reader or two. I feel better after just starting this paragraph. But I just didn’t have anything bloggable to share. Until now, I mean.

Guess what I did this week? I saw the Habs play in Vancouver. I mean, I was THERE. They only come here once per season and I’ve been to see them before but this time was really awesome. Really really truly.

The Habs were coming off a craptastic western road trip, losing in Edmonton to the crappy Oilers, and badly, and then losing at the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary. I mean, they got shut out. What a sad game that was to watch.

That is the reason I thought I was actually in for a treat when they stopped in Vancouver. The guys would definitely want to bring it after 2 such terrible games, and especially playing against the Canucks who have a great winning record. And especially in Vancouver, where Habs fans always (seem to) outnumber Canucks fans in the Vancouver arena.

I used to go to all the Habs games in Vancouver, and in fact was at the last game in Vancouver when the Habs won. In the year TWO THOUSAND. After that, they went on a losing streak when playing in Vancouver, and thankfully I missed 8 of those games because since having kids I could not afford to spend the outrageous sums demanded for ticket prices. And I’m talking the regular priced tickets, too.

But for the past few years, I’ve had a generous benefactor who makes sure I can go see the Habs when they play here, giving me tickets either for Christmas or my birthday, etc. Isn’t that awesome? And a good thing too, since the past 2 times the Habs played here before this year, they lost badly, in particular last year, they lost REALLY badly. Glad I never paid for those games. It was embarrassing, sad and awful to be surrounded by Canucks fans who jeered at me all game, then jeered at me for the days that followed.

The hate for the Habs is an interesting phenomenon, and the hate for Habs fans more so (for me). I mean, every team has douchey fans but I’m certainly not one. But the fascination of cheering against the Habs and then going out of one’s way to make Habs fans feel miserable always bemuses me. I would not want to make a fan feel bad when their team is doing badly or their team has just lost a game, because I know how awful it already feels for that fan. You know? I mean, Evil Canuck Fan Co-Worker excepted, as he is such a specific breed of evil that when I get a chance to take a dig at him, I probably will about half of the time. But I don’t enjoy it. I mean, I do a little.

It started in November, when I got my tickets. My friend from Twitter, known as @TheAbraxasCo, and I got our tickets, club seats no less, for the game in February. That’s a long time to wait, but we were excited-excited-excited. When the year turned, I started counting down the weeks, then the days. Getting to see my boys in person, and this time with a fan as rabid as I (the past couple of years I went with Canucks fans – never again) was something that had me giddy! I didn’t care how they’d done in Edmonton and Calgary, I was going to be there with them and had a good feeling.

So, it got to be Tuesday, February 22nd in Vancouver. The boys were here in town, I could feel them. I had a lot of work to do at the office that day, and I mean loads, and it was so hard to concentrate I can’t even describe it.

The work day finally came to an end and I went to meet @TheAbraxasCo at our customary place for a pre-game drink (or two); where we always watch Habs games together when we can. We were both excited and looking forward to a win. This is what I love about her: she’s my kind of Habs fan, not the kind who bitches and moans and predicts a loss and that we’re not contenders and won’t even make the playoffs. No. She’s optimistic, and the eyes shine with visions of a win, no contemplation of another scenario, and plus she LOVES our boys, never ever doubted Carey, etc. Peas in a pod.

We made our way to Rogers Arena to be in place for the pre-game warmup. The air was electric, and on the way we saw just as many Habs’ jerseys as Canucks’.  I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go to lots of NHL games here, but nothing, nothing, NOTHING compares to the atmosphere when the Habs are in town. NOTHING. We wait for this day once a year, like Christmas, or your birthday, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Gone are the memories of lost games past, and the anticipation of the magical feeling of simply being in the same building as the Habs is huge! And @TheAbraxasCo had not seen our boys live before…twice as exciting!!

We got there, found our seats in the SEVENTEENTH ROW and promptly made our way to the opposite end of the ice where the sea of Habs jerseys were congregating before the warmup. How they knew what end to be at, I don’t know, but I’m so glad. We made our way up to the glass and then…the boys came out. Squeeeee! They started by skating around in circles and every time someone passed me I screamed “Careeeeey!!!! P.K.!!!!! Max!!!” They didn’t look at me but I know it’s just because they were in game mode. Very professional, our boys. AS IF they couldn’t hear me, I was pressed right up to the glass and making a general spectacle of myself. Actually, perhaps they were afraid. Pacioretty actually shot a puck right at me, then a minute later, he did it again. RIGHT at me. Me, me, me! I KNOW it was his way of saying hello.

8 bazillion, 57, whatever, something like that.

We went back to our seats. I noticed some fine folks bringing food and drinks down on trays to people seated in our section. I yelled out to one of them, “What? We can order stuff and you bring it to us?” This lovely person replied, “Yes!” and I was all, “Seriously? Can I order two drinks at a time? YES?! I’ll have two Mike’s Lemonades! Run a tab!” It was wonderful.

The game was about to start. Two guys, who weren’t wearing Canucks jerseys but were Canucks fans, made their way to the 2 seats beside me. They looked nice enough. I felt bad for them for what I was likely about to put them through.

THE BOYS CAME OUT ON THE ICE. After a couple of misstarts, the opening faceoff took place, and we were off to the races! We started shouting “GO HABS GO!” and when I watched the game back later on PVR, I heard we really did ourselves proud. We were LOUD.

I was tingling. Carey was in net, I was wearing his jersey, and he was playing in front of his “hometown” crowd. I couldn’t have been happier for him! 6 minutes in, David Desharnais scored the first goal and we leapt out of our seats, screaming at the top of our lungs, so much so that I wound up having a coughing fit. I explained to the guys next to me, “I’m really sorry if I seem at all obnoxious, I get to see these guys just once a year!” They kind of grumbled, “Whatever.” Don’t worry, I totally grew on them by the end of the game.

You know how when you’re at a game, you stand up if there’s a rush, you stand up when there’s a bad call, you stand up when there’s no call, you stand up when there’s a goal, etc.? Yeah, me too. I had my camera and wallet on my lap and they went flying every time. I had all these nice Canucks fan folks crawling around under their seats to retrieve my belongings every time, until @TheAbraxasCo finally grew annoyed enough to insist she put my stuff into her pockets. Which was really nice of her.

You know what happened about a minute after Desharnais scored? Gio scored! On a rebound from a BEAUTIFUL shot by P.K.! Nomez even picked up an assist! Wooooo woop woop woop! I was on my feet and swinging my arms around and loving every minute. Oh and P.S. guess what? We saw those goals right in front of us since we were at Luongo’s end for periods 1 and 3. Watching the guys gather to celebrate mere metres from us was soooooo thrilling!

After the first period, I made my way up to the rafters to meet a couple of other Twitter friends for the first time, @torrievenoit and @misscarboncopy. It was great finally meeting them! I also ran in to two of my real life friends, totally by coincidence. In a building full of 18,000+ people that’s quite the feat. Fellow Habs fans, too. Awesome.

In the 2nd, poor Carey got delay of game penalty and one of the Sisters scored. Big bummer. The Canucks fans surrounding me quite enjoyed rubbing my nose in it, but it was all in good fun. We were old friends by now. The brothers (yes, they were brothers, I asked them, we had some good chit-chat) next to me started saying, “it’s time for the comeback, another Canucks power play is coming, we can feel it,” etc. No worries, Andre Kostitstyn scored and then we were up by 2 again! My neighbour’s prediction was correct, there were 3 more Canucks’ power plays in the 2nd, but the Canucks didn’t score again til the 3rd.

We stayed in our seats for the 2nd intermission, but the conversation was so good and we were having so much fun that this was my only tweet during the game:

The 3rd wound up being really thrilling, because the Canucks scored again and the place got really excited, everyone was screaming, but that was all it would be, we saw our Habs win here for the first time in nearly ELEVEN years, Carey got his win, the guys went to hug him and he was grinning from ear to ear. And you guys. I got to see the triple-low-five between him and P.K. in person. I was hugging onto @TheAbraxasCo’s arm in anticipation, saying, “we’re gonna get to see the triple-low-five! We’re gonna get to see the TRIPLE LOW FIVE!!!!!!” and we DID. We did we did we did!!

What was interesting to me was that with about 10 seconds left to play, the Canucks fans started clearing the building. Last year, when the Habs lost here SEVEN TO ONE, I stayed until the bitter end, and didn’t make my way out of the building until I was sure the last Hab had left the ice. I guess you are more blasé about it when you have tons of opportunities to watch your team, although I can’t imagine I ever would be. We stayed firmly in our seats until the stars came out, and guess who got the first star? Carey. I can’t even.

That was it, it was over until next season. It was an AMAZING night. I close my eyes, and I relive it. I love my Habs so much. And now, our latest memory of their visit to Vancouver is of a WIN. A WIN!!! And a brilliantly played game that we TOTALLY deserved to win. Thanks so much, Habs, from the bottom of my heart, for an experience I will never, ever forget. Can’t wait to see you again!

P.S. And next time, Carey, I WILL get you to look at me. 🙂

%d bloggers like this: