The Montreal Canadiens officially started the centenary celebrations yesterday in their first home game. They faced the Bruins in what turned out to be a 4-3 shootout win.
One by one, each member of the support and the coaching staff was heading to the Montreal bench, acclaimed by thousands of fans.
Then, as Ryan O’Byrne hit the ice, the noise got stronger. By the time they arrived to the number 27, the building got even louder. The newcomers—Alex Tanguay, George Laraque, and Robert Lang also received a loud welcome from their new fans.
Last but not least, team captain Saku Koivu hit the ice after his teammates, like every year.
Emotions invaded the building, filling the air with “Go Habs Go!” chants once the organization revealed the Ring of Honour—a tribute to the Montreal Canadiens legends.
The 44 players who are members of this Ring of Honour have accumulated more than 160 Stanley Cup rings with the Montreal Canadiens. Twelve of them were present at the ceremony, and they alone reach a total of 75.
The Pocket-Rocket, Henri Richard leads in this category with 11 Stanley Cup championships as a player, followed by Jean Beliveau with ten.
From Dick Duff to Jean Beliveau, from Guy Lafleur—and the “Guy! Guy!” chants—to Bob Gainey, there they were, bringing back to life these years of great history.
Then came the traditional puck drop. Emile Bouchard and Elmer Lach hit the red carpet and the two teams' respective captains proceeded behind them, in front of a crowd screaming “Saku! Saku!”
Among the best moments of the franchise’s history figure the dynasties of the 1950s and the 1970s, when Les Glorieux won six Stanley Cups in ten years. In 1976-77, they recorded only eight losses in 80 games.
Thinking about Montreal Canadiens, a few names will surely come to you. George Robben recalls a few of them in his top ten.
The Montreal Canadiens are, as head coach Guy Carbonneau proudly calls it, "a hundred-year-old big family." And well, according to what Jennifer Conway tells us from her research, he is right!
The Old Forum, named by most the Temple of Hockey, hosted the best moments of the Montreal Canadiens, with 22 Stanley Cups. It was a place of gathering for the fans.
The Forum also witnessed marked moments of support from the Montreal fan—if it took a riot to bring back Maurice Richard in the roster, riot it was!
But it was also a place of tragedy and tears. In 1925, during a game against Pittsburgh, goaltender Georges Vezina collapsed in the room, and was later diagnosed with tuberculosis. He died four months later at the age of 39.
In 1937, Howie Morenz’s funerals were organized in the Forum, where thousands of fans came to give him a last tribute.
Since the team moved to the Bell Center—or since Patrick Roy has been traded, if you prefer—the team hasn’t reached the highest honours. Years have passed, and it seems the ghosts of the Old Forum stayed at, well, the Old Forum.
But fans (real fans, that is!) never give up, right?
Go Habs Go.
From around the Internet: TSN's tribute to the team.