What better way to start my blog off by explaining what makes me a Habs’ fan.
Here is something I wrote 5 years ago, on April 18th 2008 to be exact. How do I remember the date? Because it was between game 5 and 6 of the NHL Northeast quarterfinals between the Habs and Bruins.
I was out with some friends, got home late, and started writing, and kept writing. It’s fairly close to the initial draft although I cleaned it up a bit to make it somewhat more readable. In reading it again, a lot of it can apply to any sports and to any team. It certainly resonates with me five years later now that I’m expecting my first child.
Anyway, I know I seem insane when I watch hockey hopefully this helps explain my fanaticism and makes me seem more…normal.
April 18, 2008
I was driving home alone tonight. My mind was flooded with various random thoughts, some were generic worries we all have, some more personal, some made up in my head just to torture myself and keep myself busy. Too often life feels like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill only to have it slip out of his grasp and roll back down, and start all over again…
…The song “Fix You” by Coldplay came on the radio. The Montreal Canadiens skate out to this song during every home game; specifically the instrumental interlude towards the end of the song. I found myself chanting “Go Habs Go” over and over in my head. I thought about the Habs, currently facing a tough match up in the opening round of the playoffs that everyone thought they’d win rather easily. I thought: How can they lose? When they have fans like me, sitting in their car, using up precious personal time thinking about the club and chanting ‘Go Habs Go!’ over and over again like some lunatic.
I think to myself: How does that karma not swell into something more and imbue each Hab player with the strength to play above and beyond. I know I’m not the only person who does this….or am I? I thought about my friends and family who don’t get “it”, who think I’m crazy. I started to think about what makes me, or anyone for that reason, such a big fan? Why do I love the Montreal Canadiens? I understand people’s skepticism, and understand why they may think I’m nuts… … …here is how I can explain it:
At one point during the song I began picturing the Habs skating around the Montreal Forum. I thought back to ’93 when they won the cup. I remember being 12 years old, sitting at home watching the game with my family. I remember jumping into my father’s arms as the seconds ticked down, I remember the anticipation on his face and pure happiness and laughter when the clock hit 0.00. I remember running around the house and screaming like I had just won a million dollars and knowing that I wouldn’t trade that feeling for a million dollars.
I recalled my Dad taking me to the parade and standing with me for hours until I could catch a glimpse of my heroes and the famous Coupe Stanley. Most of all I remember my Dad, who brought his family to Canada for a better life, a better education, who developed a love for the local game and like so many other ethnic Canadians, made it his own. The truth is my Dad didn’t know much about the history of the Habs. He loved sports and the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge became his team and he passed that love on to his son. I remember standing on the corner of De la Montagne and Sherbrooke, and for a moment instead of watching the parade, I was looking at my Dad, who up to that point had only ever been my Dad. In that single moment I realized he was a wide eyed fan just like me, and for the first time we shared something on common ground; our love of the Habs and our happiness at their success. For the first time we were just friends…
…Now some people won’t understand the point of this or why I’m even writing it down. I’m just trying to explain to people that sports and a team, your team; is more than just the players and coaches, more than the fans and announcers, more than the Molson Ex 3 stars and the score at the end of the game. It’s about a connection that brings people together; that makes complete strangers become friends. It is something that is not bound by the color of one’s skin, where they come from or what religion they are. It’s about getting together with your friends, having a beer and catching up. It’s about rallying a city together; a city which seems to be in a constant flux of dispute and decline, but NOT when the Habs are winning. It’s about watching Pierre and Yvon on RDS, but not giving a crap about the language being spoken. It’s about high fives down St Catherine St. and honking with the cabbies, not at them. It’s about casual fans finally understanding the game is more than just a game. It’s about history and culture. It’s about family and Hockey Night in Canada. It’s about a kid and his Dad.
I know…It sounds cheesy, it sounds sappy but the truth often is. Montreal is unique due to how intertwined the Habs are with the history of this city. It means almost everyone here is fan; for better or worse. I know a lot of fans, who don’t see it this way, and I know fans and who think this type of fervor is not enough. There are people around this city who have spent their whole childhood hearing stories about the Habs of the 70s; the best teams ever! In turn their father’s heard stories about the great Maurice Richard and 5 cups in a row in the 50s and the flying Frenchmen who dominated the early years of hockey. From Howie Morenz, to the Rocket, to Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, from Plante to Dryden and Roy, we all had hockey heroes, and our father’s had heroes, and our children will have heroes. Sports is a common thread that bonds us through time.
Some fans in this city never met their grandfathers and many more never knew their great grandfathers, but you know what they had in common? They were all Habs’ fans…and so am I.
Go Habs Go.