The NHL Innovating for the Montreal Canadiens Centenary

Miah D.Senior Writer IJanuary 9, 2009

It has been the ultimate place of gathering.

In a place with over 610,000 square feet of underground shopping mall, a staggering retail sector with over 1,600 shops, and infamous Crescent Street, downtown Montreal has been a place of gathering for so many reasons.

It has been home to FIFA World Cup celebrations, when the winning countries would make their own parades. Sainte Catherine Street has hosted numerous events that deserve to be remembered.

While Hockey legends would get the place crowded for the traditional Stanley Cup parades, the city has also witnessed some of the most classless acts by so-called “hockey fans.”

And still, for every event, Sainte Catherine has been the place to be.

Montreal—home of the Canadiens and the legendary Old Forum. This city is hockey — the streets bleeds bleu, blanc, et rouge.

Numerous events have been organized to celebrate 100 years of history, passion and pride; a love and hate relationship between the team and hockey fans.

Some outdoor events were also on the calendar, such as the hockey rink installed in downtown Montreal early last fall or the centenary place inaugurated in front of the Bell Center.

The idea of hockey doesn’t involve only scoring goals, but also another aspect that we and the generations before us much appreciate—the physical one.

So inspired by the 138 penalty minutes between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NHL decided to go big in the innovation.

For the second half of this season, we will witness an innovative tribute to this great sport that is hockey: the “brawl tribute.” It will be the duel of the year, between two hockey teams, two players, two compatriots, and most of all, between two former friends.

From “Forever Rivals” to “New Rivals,” Sergei Kostitsyn and Mikhail Grabovski will engage in a real-time brawl in downtown Montreal, in front of the teams’ respective fans wearing their colors.

The streets will be closed for the event, while the metro stations will operate twice faster than usual faster to facilitate the crowds. For that day only, it will even be open an hour earlier.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans will be invited to enter by one side of the street, while Montreal Canadiens fans take over the other. Remember, the fight will be between them, not us!

The referee will be NHL commissioner himself, Gary Bettman.   

In case Mikhail Grabovski decides to push the referee there too, both Montreal and Toronto fans are invited to cheer for him at that specific moment. Chants of “A-gain! A-gain!” are also accepted.

Unfortunately, Montreal Tom Kostopoulos kindly refused to appear at the event once he learned that the organizers got him a seat between Jamal Mayers and Mike Van Ryn.

On the other hand, Francis Bouillon finally accepted the unique condition that Gorges Laraque sits between him and Brad May; which is not confirmed yet. Laraque might once again call in sick!

The judges will be Chris Nilan, Jonathan Roy, and guest star Lucian Bute.  

The fight starts at 10 a.m., so don’t be late!

Here's a little preview: