We meet together on All Habs...both readers and writers. Some are critics, some are optimists, some are realists, and some apologists. This has been a tough few weeks for the Montreal Canadiens and their fans. We now have an opportunity to remind us why we are all fans.
Tracy Lee lives in Vancouver. She is a very good writer and author of an entertaining blog about her life: tracy-lee.com But more importantly to this story, Tracy is Canadiens fan. She is a new friend to All Habs. And Tracy now has a special connection to Carey Price.
I'm pleased that Tracy has agreed to write a guest article for All Habs. After reading, I hope that it will help you remember why you are a passionate fan of the Montreal Canadiens. If you want to share, please leave a comment.
I'm a Habs fan (with a big goofy grin)
by Tracy Lee
Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur and, of course, Maurice “Rocket” Richard. These are just a few of the many great men who have played for the Montreal Canadiens. As any Habs fan would know, I could go on and on with the great talent the team has seen over the past 100 years.
I am a Habs fan. I have been since I was a small child (I even have pictures of me as a baby wearing the Canadiens logo). I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a lot about the club, as it’s only been the past few years that I’ve really gotten in to hockey. But it’s great to sit back and research how truly great the organization is.
Everyone has their favourite players, mine happens to be Carey Price. From British Columbia, like myself, Carey is the goaltender and has done some wonderful things for the team. Excuse the recent slump he’s been in- everyone is entitled to their ups and downs, including him.
Back during the summer when the 2008/2009 NHL schedule was released I finally was able to find the date when the Habs would be taking on the Canucks. February 15th. I was determined to go, I knew it might not happen seeing as they haven’t battled each other in over three years. I managed to scoop up two tickets; I planned on going with my father- the reason why I am a Canadiens fan.
You see, he grew up watching them along with his father. It’s sort of been passed down through the family.
Game day finally arrived. I woke up at 7:30 and got ready to head down to GM Place. I knew that they had to do a morning skate, so I grabbed my Price jersey off my wall (yes, it hangs on my wall) and made my way over to The Garage. Thankfully I live within walking distance so it only took me about 20 minutes.
I got there just after 9:30 and was thankful when I saw other fans there with their jerseys. I hadn’t missed them. The bus pulled up shortly after ten and I felt like a small child on Christmas morning. One by one the team walked off the bus and, sadly, walked straight into the building. No autographs. No waves or smiles.
Carey came out and was the only one to take the time to sign hats, jerseys, hockey pucks and pictures. He is a BC boy playing his first game as a Canadien in his home town, after all. He made his way around the half circle towards me and I must have had the biggest goofy smile on my face.
But I didn’t care he was there, in front of me and impossibly cuter than on tv (hey I am a 21 year old girl—cut me some slack).
Around five that night my father and I walked down to GM Place proudly in our Canadiens jerseys. Mine, red. His, white. After standing around for what felt like hours they let us in the building. I quickly made my way down to the Montreal bench and held my spot against the glass and waited.
We chatted with other fans and were having a great time. Suddenly the music turned up. The lights dimmed and the Canucks came racing out for the pre skate. I look to my left and see blur after blur of white racing past me.
Can you believe I actually found myself getting emotional? I didn’t cry, but I was overwhelmed with joy. I was finally seeing the team that I had been routing for since I was little.
Then I saw him. Decked out in red, white and blue. Mostly white with a little red, but you know what I mean. The pre skate seemed to speed by, I wish it could have been longer. It was so exciting to see all the team.
Koivu, Kovalev, Higgins, Halak, and the rest of my team. I had my camera out and was snapping away at everything I could. Of course, the lens seemed to magically follow Price. Which may have helped pay off in the end.
Two minutes were all that remained, the blurs of white became fewer and fewer. “Tracy look, Price is skating this way!” my Dad called out. I managed to get one shot before chaos happened. Standing in front of me Carey lifted his arms and goalie stick up and tossed it over the glass—to me.
I can’t tell you exactly what happened after that because it was such a blur of pushing and grabbing but somehow I ended up with the stick. It was mine. All mine. Thanks to my Dad mainly. You see when the stick came over the glass it landed between my Dad and I. He grabbed the blade of it and sat down in an empty seat, he had a death grip and wasn’t going to let go.
Hands were all over it, pulling this way and that. I had one hand on it, the other held my camera (which I’m thankful didn’t smash to the ground). There was lots of pushing “It’s mine! It’s mine! It’s mine!” I called, it was the only thing that was coming out of my mouth.
After everything subsided, I was queen. Queen in a sea full of men and boys adorned in white and red. I didn’t see Carey leave the ice, but I had his goalie stick. My Dad hugged me and kissed the side of my head. I started to cry. Yes. I cried. Only a few tears, but I was so overcome with happiness that I couldn’t help it.
It stopped as suddenly as it had started. Everyone was patting my Dad on the back, congratulating me and one guy offered me 200 dollars for it on the spot. “Are you kidding me” I thought “Sorry, I won’t ever be selling this” I said.
The game, as you all know, didn’t go as well as I’d hoped but I couldn’t be horribly upset. I did have one hell of a souvenir.
The next morning at work, still slightly on cloud nine, I began flipping through The Province newspaper (one of Vancouver’s most popular and widely read papers). I was hoping for some half decent pictures from the game, but what I got instead far surpassed my hopes.
There was Carey, arms raised, lifting the stick to toss it over the glass and me standing in front of him, one arm raised, and mouth open with a shocked expression on my face. A photographer at the game captured the moment I couldn’t completely remember. I had proof he was giving the stick to me, not the kid next to me, he was standing in front of me. This put me back up in the clouds.
Six days after the fact and I still can’t believe what happened and the amazing luck that was with me on Sunday. Not only did I get my first ever player jersey signed, it was signed by my favourite player and later on he gave me his goalie stick.
I look at the picture or at the goalie stick and have the same big goofy grin as I did when Carey signed my jersey. It’s a moment that neither I nor my Dad will ever, ever forget.
(Photo credit: Ric Ernst, The Province)