I hadn’t seen the Canadiens play in Montreal since the late 1980s when they were still at the Forum. I’d moved to Calgary and then to the West Coast, and I couldn’t see them live unless they came to where I was.
I was gone when the Bell Centre opened in 1996, and I grew more and more curious. Could it come close to replacing the Forum? How was the atmosphere compared to the Saddledome in Calgary and Rogers Arena in Vancouver? Would the hot dogs be even close to Forum dogs?
Today I saw my first game at the Bell Centre, a Red vs. White affair to help rebuild the damage done at Lac-Megantic, and no, it wasn’t the Bruins or Leafs in town, and it wasn’t a crucial game in the standings, and there were no fights, no nastiness, or no tremendously dazzling plays.
But it was an emotional time for me. I loved the moment. It made my heart soar like a Mauritian Shelduck.
Tell me how this couldn’t be great. Darth and Lydie picked me up. I wore my mid-1950s Habs jacket. We grabbed great seats at one end. I had a free hot dog, chips and bottled water. The Habs played the Habs and the joint was sold out.
The hot dog was good but not as good as Forum dogs. I suppose it’s impossible to be that good.
White beat Red 2-1. Francis Bouillon made a nice speech. Pleks scored a nice one. Carey Price looked good. The EGG line was fine. Max seemed to have some bounce. Little Martin Reway played well. A whack of rookies played hard hoping to impress.
Peter Budaj let in a goal Betty White could stop but anyway.
I saw the tributes to former greats on the walls behind the nosebleeds. I looked for Jean Beliveau. I saw where Max Pacioretty got nailed by Zdeno Chara.
All of this sort of thing might seem old hat to you if you’ve been a bunch of times. But I’ve probably got you beat in a few other ways. I saw the Rocket play, for one.
I also noticed a new job I might go after. Riding shotgun on one of the zambonis. Little kids have the job now but if I can somehow………
I’d sure like to thank Darth and Lydie. It was a great day.
And the jacket I wore –