The Champlain Bridge is one of four major bridges linking Montreal to its south shore. As you cruise along highway 10 for about five to 10 minutes, you'll stumble upon cookie cutter house developments, condos, and townhouses that all look very similar except for the cars in the driveways.
A kilometer after that, a stone's throw from an outdoor massive shopping complex in the town of Brossard, Quebec, you'll come across a non-descript building of concrete, glass and brick, appearing as if it was abandoned in the field that surrounds it, sticking out like a sore thumb.
Under its roof, however, another chapter in the storied history of the Montreal Canadiens is being written.
Welcome to the Complex Sportif Bell, the Habs' home away from home. At a cost of $36 million, the facility is truly state-of-the-art, perhaps the best practice facility in all of the NHL. It may be even the best rink, too, if tough-guy Georges Laraque is to be believed.
The facility boasts not only two regulation size rinks, but also a soccer pitch. It's almost identical in every way to the Bell Center, from the height of the boards and the glass, to the Zamboni entrance, even the advertising on the boards is virtually the same.
It's behind the scenes, however, that has the Habs' crushing on their new digs like a giddy, teenage girl.
There is a gym and a trainer's room, along with a bigger and fully equipped players lounge and dressing room. For strengthening and conditioning, there are a couple of hot tubs and a pool that allows players to swim against the current, ensuring a quick fix for an injured player.
That alone may help this team lure some quality free agents to the city, which is much needed support as the Canadiens struggle somewhat during this centennial season. The Canadiens are one of the few teams that have not had their own practice facility and with all they've done with their first, it's an appealing piece of the puzzle for any free agent looking at prospective teams. The fact that the facility has been built in the heart of a budding community, with schools and shopping nearby, is just icing on the cake.
With some Habs' faltering in the last few weeks, namely Alex Kovalev and a few others, there is some interesting trade fodder out there, too. Clearing away some of the dead wood frees up some salary cap space and allows GM Bob Gainey to bring in top-notch talent that will want to play here.
When you spare no expense, people notice. Players notice, too. The Complex Sportif Bell is proof positive that this is a team that wants to be contenders, anxious to raise to the rafters of the Bell Center a 25th Stanley Cup banner.
The road there, however, leads through Brossard, Quebec.