Reviewing The Montreal Canadiens 100th Birthday Party

Last night I had goose bumps. A lot of goose bumps. A lot of times.

December 4, 2009 was the 100th anniversary of the very first game played by the Montreal Canadiens franchise. The ceremony was long and elaborate. And it was fantastic. Nobody puts on a show like the Montreal Canadiens!

My first goose bumps came when the former players appeared in the tunnel, in uniform, on skates, ready to take the ice for a pre-game skate/ warm-up. The man that came first brought a smile to my face and chills to my skin. Patrick Roy was once again on the ice in Montreal wearing number 33 and looking like he could step back in and play.

As a fan of Les Glorieux I hoped and dreamed that one day Saint Patrick would be back to stop pucks in the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. But I never thought it was going to happen. Even last year when we all got to see Roy step on the ice to have his jersey retired I figured that was the closest it was ever going to get. Boy am I glad that I was wrong.

At the other end of the ice Ken Dryden was in his pads for the first time since he retired in 1979. He’s a little bigger in the midsection than he was in the game tapes and photos I’ve seen, but the smile on his face was big enough to cancel that out. In fact, the smiles on the faces of all of the former players were larger than life. Guy LaFleur, Larry Robinson, Stephane Richer, Yvan Cournoyer, Vincent Damphousse, Serge Savard and company all skated, took their warm up shots and waved to the crowd. My skin went cold again and goose bumps covered my arms as the first pucks were shot at the feet of the goaltenders. I loved every minute of it.

When the skating and shooting was done the players graciously threw pucks to the fans. Some players even gave away gloves and sticks to the people that have cheered for them as long as they have lived. The 5 minute warm-up was dominated by cheers and song. These fans love their legends, love their glory and love their history. There are 24 banners in the rafters that can’t be disputed or taken away. 24 seasons that ended with the Montreal Canadiens as champions.

But last night there were 4 more banners added as well. 2 banners that were long over due and 2 more that came of age yesterday.

Les Canadiens retired Emile “Butch” Bouchard’s number 3 and Elmer Lach’s number 16 were raised the rafters to never be worn again. In fact, Ryan O’Byrne took off his #3 jersey to reveal #20 as Bouchard’s banner made its way to the ceiling. There will never be another player to wear either number now.

After those 2 banner ceremonies were completed the fans attention was called to 2 new banners that hang at either end of the arena. These special banners commemorate the 100th anniversary of the team and include the names of the 761 players to wear the Canadiens logo in the first 100 years of the franchise.

Other goose bump moments included:

-Gordie Howe’s introduction of Jean Beliveau

-Guy LaFleur’s speech to the crowd

-The team photo with the past and current players together

-The singing of the crowd

-The video board honouring the Habs legends that have passed away

-And this quote on the video board:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.

The celebrations are now over. The 2009-2010 Canadiens won the game 5-1 over their rival Boston Bruins. The fans cheered loudly for Mike Cammalleri’s hat trick in the 2nd period and again as the team waved their sticks to recognize the fans after the final buzzer.

But even though the 100th birthday party has ended the memories remain. In the words of Jean Beliveau “they can’t take the happy memories from us”. Fans of the Montreal Canadiens won’t soon forget what we got to watch last night.

#gohabsgo

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Reviewing The Montreal Canadiens 100th Birthday Party

Last night I had goose bumps. A lot of goose bumps. A lot of times.

December 4, 2009 was the 100th anniversary of the very first game played by the Montreal Canadiens franchise. The ceremony was long and elaborate. And it was fantastic. Nobody puts on a show like the Montreal Canadiens!

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