Ring The Bells For The Bell

When the time came for the Montreal Canadiens to depart the hallowed halls of the Montreal Forum in 1996 and move into the brand new and much bigger Molson Centre,  I took it personally. I thought, “you rotten bastards.” 

So what that the Forum was no longer economically feasible, that more luxury boxes and more regular seating were needed, and that a new rink was necessary for the franchise to carry on. What about my memories? Didn’t anybody care about  that?

I can be like that sometimes. Stupid.

But then I saw Jean Beliveau interviewed one day on television, and he said he was happy to see the team move over. He said the old Forum had used up its usefullness, it was old, and it was time to get with the modern age. He was excited.

So I thought, if Jean Beliveau, who should be feeling worse than any of us about this, is happy and excited about the move, then I’m going to be too. And the Molson Centre, now the Bell Centre, has proved over the last fifteen years to have its own charm, its own ear-splitting thunderous cheers from the rafters, and I’ve come to embrace it.

I have one complaint, though. I’ve never been crazy about the larger painted crests at centre ice with the wording “Centre Bell, Bell Centre.” The Forum had two smaller and simpler CH crests, with no lettering, and I liked this better. But talk about nitpicking.

Below is the official news release for the inauguration of the Molson Centre, taking you through the various events beginning with the final game at the Forum against the Dallas Stars on March 11, 1996 with the ceremony following. On March 15th the “Big Move,” with the parade from the Forum to the new building, then the official inauguration on March 16th. The following day, visitors could enjoy an open house to have a look for themselves.

15 thoughts on “Ring The Bells For The Bell”

  1. Dennis, I love the Bell Centre. But I still think it’s scandalous what they did to the Forum. Why could it not have remained preserved as a national historic site? I’ll never understand this.

  2. You said it, Danno. It’s scandalous, horrible, sinful. I’ve never understood it. But then again, it’s a bunch of politicuians making the decisions and so that explains it.It’s really really sad what the Forum has become.

  3. I don’t blame anyone for being upset about the Forum. That place is history (and then some). Some of it remains inside the “new” building but it’s not the same.

    It would have been nice to keep it and put the Hockey Hall Of Fame in there!

    One thing about this night (when the last game was played) was it brought one of my all-time favorite Habs memories:

  4. Hey Dennis,I’ve seen the Habs play in both arenas,they both have a way of impressing the serious hockey fan.The Forum has it’s history,that in itself puts it above any other hockey venue in the world,the Centre Bell has a beautiful layout,no bad viewing areas,crawling with pubs and bars(or should I say crawling from) and little shop,painting ,pics and of course the mystique that followed the team from the Forum.I t is a shame that the old Forum couldn’t have been put into retirement gracefully,to spend her after years as a hockey museum,maybe a place to watch Slap Shot in any language.

  5. Darth, I just think they could have kept it and used it not only as a museum but also as a rink for the juniors and others. To make it an amusement/bowling alley/video game centre is unacceptable. And that final night was unreal. Especially the ovation for Rocket.

  6. Derry, I’m very impressed if the Bell Centre has no bad seats. That’s excellent. Some rinks and ballparks are notorious for poor seating. I was at a game in Vancouver about 15 years ago, way up at the top, and because the front row of my section could lean over on the railing, they blocked my view completely. I’d rather see it on TV if that’s going to be the case. The last time in Vancouver, though, we were 8 rows from the ice and it was fantastic. The Habs won too.

  7. Dennis, your comment (#5) is reason enough why the Habs must put you in charge. Your plan for the Forum is exactly what Habs fans would have embraced. Instead, we are left with an empty feeling. Like we lost an old friend needlessly.

    Mr. Molson, I know you’re reading this. Please make Dennis Kane stick boy as soon as possible. Before he buys the team, at least.

  8. Thank you, Danno. It’s hard to believe but they haven’t contacted me about the stick boy job yet. What’s up with that?

  9. Danno, that first part was hard to watch for sure. I sure hope Markov is going to be okay and this is good news, they he wants to play in the opener. Did you notice what the guy talking said? “If Price is good, the Habs WILL make the playffos.” Big deal! It’s not about making the playoffs at this stage, it’s about winning the whole thing. Again not a lot of respect. They’re going to surprise everybody.

  10. Danno, do you recall last year a rumour Marinaro came out with that didn’t happen? I remember we were talking about it at the time.

  11. Yes I do Dennis. I think he exaggerates somewhat to get some attention. Which works, because we’re talking about him now. I can’t remember what it was about…

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