Sunday, December 06, 2009

Picture Perfect: Habs 100 - Bruins 85

At around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, word began to spread that the Canadiens were going to retire the numbers worn by almost-centenarians Emile Bouchard and Elmer Lach. It struck me as being the kind of flashy surprise this team isn't known for. The Habs move slowly and cautiously on these ones with the weight of history judging silently from afar. This decision to honor the deans of the team really blew some fresh air into this stretch of ceremonies that even the die-hards have deemed overcooked. It hinted at a night of surprises to come.

The 100-second countdown lifted the curtains on a montage we've seen a few times in various edits. A familair photo here, an unforgettable wink there. It was the team's way of slowly charging the emotional batteries on a night where many of us wiped nostalgia from our faces.

What else can you do but gaze in amazement as you watch Patrick Roy's hulking frame step onto the ice in full uniform and wearing the bright red mask that stands as the third great goalie mask in this team's history. What a sight to behold.

The rest of the legends followed and we were treated to a pre-game skate that served as the highlight of the evening. Legends skating swiftly around the ice with Roy and Ken Dryden taking shots at both ends. And the emotion kept pouring in. Gordie Howe, Aragorn, the retirement ceremonies. The formula used on this birthday pretty much erased the centennial fatigue many had been feeling and renewed our enamorment with this incredible franchise.

The group that always seemed the most burdened by this long fanfare is the very recent and now current edition of the Montreal Canadiens. Their record for games in which the drop of the puck followed a long tribute to someone or something has been abysmal. Maybe the boys aren't big on the late starts; eats into their clubbing time.

But this time around, for this final tribute, the team offered itself the Boston Bruins as a centennial birthday present. This was not a game the Canadiens could even fathom dropping. You don't lose to Dallas on the final game at the Forum. You don't lose game 7 on home ice. And you don't lose on your 100th birthday.

Chapeau x3 and the many more that littered the ice to Mike Cammalleri. One of the only players to get in that room where the legends had gathered and shake hands, show appreciation for what he has now taken over and chosen to represent. One of the only players. That's just incredible and when this team loses 6-1 to an opponent at some point this season, look no farther than this revealing fact. Do they really care? Maybe on this night when time came to perform on the ice, they did. The Bruins also cared not to show up, and Tim Thomas cared not to make routine saves or puck freezes in the crease, so that helped. But it was a fitting end to a night of wonders.

Check that. This is Montreal for heaven's sake. It was the only end.


Habsfan10 said...

And at least for one more night, all was right with the world of les Canadiens. Well said, 4.

Baroque said...

So, do you feel bad for ticking off the Bruins so badly that they took out all their anger on the poor Leafs last night?

Or are you just sitting there giggling to youself with barely repressed glee. :)

Robbie said...

As always 4 not many could have put it better then you just did. The difference between this sports franchise and all the others is its ability to touch you in ways that sports should not. As i sat there watching Dryden, Shutt, Flower, Bird, Savard and Lapointe i immediately thought of my Dad and Grandfather and all the memories i shared with then watching this team. I imagined that if they were still alive i would have watched them wipe tears from their faces because that is how much those players and this team had meant to them.

In Montreal it has always been more then just about a Team. It has been about a family, your own family and how this organization simply became an extention of it. How moments lived with your family became marked by moments on and off the ice with this franchise. How it marked time good and bad. How it affords us the ability to reach back and so vividly touch those moments and connect them to our current lives.

Hopefully this organization can in some way work past its current challenges. Every family is counting on it.

moeman said...

Go Habs Go!

gillis said...

Very nice, I LaCH!

Number31 said...

He wasn't the only one to go in that room. Price was with "Mister" Dryden and "Mister" Roy while Metro was bouncing off the walls collecting autgraphs. I'd LOVE to know what Jaro and Knuckles were talking about during the photo!

Did anyone catch the interviews yesterday on Team990 with Houle and Savard? If the angry mob of "fed up fans" could have listened... Great stuff. Houle nominates Metro for the C (and not because they wear the same number). Savard's was very insightful into the world of a GM.

The Booins did show up. Ended up looking shellshocked. All is right with the world.

cottoneye said...

Cammalleri does start with a C...

Well done, HF4. Well done Habs also.

PS. - Saw the post game reactions on TSN and O'Byrne was really cute and excited about being the only one ''in the know'' regarding the number retirement. Aw.

Anonymous said...

Cammalleri for captain!! Such a class act!

I wonder if "Mister" Roy and Price shared a few laughs about their infamous "hands-in-the-air-after-mocking-applause" moments!!

kevincrumbs said...

My favourite part of the ceremony that no one has mentioned yet was the very classy pairing of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" with the video in tribute to all those associated with the team that have passed away through the years. Very touching stuff and an absolutely perfect choice for a song. I really wanted to see the Rocket, too.

Someone mentioned it in response to one of the recent posts but it was indeed great to see how classy the Canadiens are by being able to reconnect with those that left here in less than happy terms. Carbo, Keane, etc. Hell, it was even nice to see Breezer.

Tom said...

I like the fact that it wasn't just superstars that were there for the ceremonies.

To see John Kordic in the remembrance video, and Lyle Odelein skating on the ice, to me helped capture the magic that were the Habs. Not all the players were Drydens, Richards or Lafleurs. There were players that many don't remember or don't really associate with the Habs, but they were a part of history too.

moeman said...

HF4's words ring true and GG11's juxtaposed Le Gros Bill and Mr. Hockey pic seals it for me. Like 100 CHandelles our Habs love warms our hockey hearts. For me, it always has and always will.

Jason said...

I like your blog, it's pretty cool. I have a couple of sports blogs myself which I hope will make a good contribution to the sports blogging community. I'd like to exchange links with you to help spread some traffic around. Please let me know if this is possible.


Anonymous said...

I like Cammalleri too, but I'd hate to think that a broken foot takes you out of the running for the captaincy. Especially when the Giant carried the team quite a few nights.

WV=moation I'd like to put forth a moation and nominate giant squid

habsss said...

quick question, totally off topic:

I was playing call of duty the other day and my username has the word habs in it. Before the game even begins this random person sees my name and starts bitching at me calling me a bitch and french f*g and everything. I'm confused as to what I did to personally insult this nice young person. What would have the lawyer-y way of handling that situation?

Habsfan10 said...

@ habsss:

You don't want to know the lawyerly way to handle the situation. It's pretty expletive-filled. Habs haters abound. Part and parcel of fandom.

Lukestar said...

Well done 4! I thought the skate with all those generations of players out there was the coolest shit I've seen in a long time...great idea. Especially when Roy and Dryden took a few shots out of the blue!

Now why can't we play like that every night???