Hey, I remember this feeling…
Time for more All Habs, All the Time…
Day 6 – Memory lane
I remember this club being down two games to none a few times over the years but one spring in particular about 17 years ago sticks out in my head. But probably not for why you’d think.
To really tell this story, I should probably begin a couple of months earlier at the beginning of March that year, when I accompanied about a dozen of my classmates on an exchange to La Prairie, Que., a small suburb of Montreal, just south of Brossard – where the Habs now practice.
It’s not important to note I owe that trip entirely to my older sister, who had taken the same exchange two years prior, got my family close with the French teacher in charge of the program and essentially guaranteed my spot on the roster. The only way my school was sending me across the country in a normal circumstance is if they thought I might not come back.
Before this Quebec trip, I had been sent home to Regina from Banff during a GD band trip because I got caught in the condo suite of some girls from Vancouver. Worst part? We were making Kraft flippin’ Dinner when the chaperones showed up but this genius ran to the bedroom and hid beside the bed. Second worst part? The guy who had been with me still had to perform the next day so my arrogant, overweight band teacher lets him off the hook and sends me home at my parents’ expense because I had already played.
This Quebec trip was absolutely packed with the standard activities a tourist might get into in late winter, including tubing down the mountainside at easily the sweetest tobogganing facility I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, that experience tied in with some other nonstop, outdoor activity led to possibly the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life.
Of course at the time I didn’t yet know this cold was bacterial bronchial pneumonia and I was in need of all kinds of medical attention, I just knew I wasn’t seeing any doctors. Because the only thing that mattered to me was the ‘Wednesday Surprise’ written on our itinerary, which I was clearly willing to bet my life was a trip to the Forum to see Les Glorieux take on the New York Islanders.
Thankfully, I was right.
I remember thinking I might not even make it to the game when we were on the bus but when I stepped through the front doors of that remarkable building, I was literally held on my feet by the thickness of its history. I felt 100 per cent healthy once the puck dropped and when the boys lit the lamp in the first minute, all memory of illness had vanished.
The Habs played great that game, beating down the Isle by a 5-1 count. The only disappointment during the game was seeing my idol Patrick Roy on the bench, while Red Light Racicot grabbed a rare start. When the final siren sounded and the Habs gathered around their backup in celebration, the Forum faithful went their usual nuts.
I on the other hand, began to throw up.
My teacher rushed me through the crowd to the stairs but as I hit the first step I fainted and began to tumble down towards the lower level. My next memory is the St. John Ambulance room, where I would wake up long enough to projectile vomit on a stranger and then pass out again.
For some reason this experience did not lead any of those in charge of my care to believe I needed any further attention and so I was sent home on the bus with the other students.
The rest of the exchange isn’t important until our Quebec counterparts came to Regina but it’s neat to point out how the next day and for the rest of my visit I was in a hospital in Quebec City, with a team of doctors skilled in every category but bilingualism and then had to release myself against the strictest of recommendations, only to land in Regina, partially collapse a lung and have to deal with countless rumours of my death when I got back to school two weeks later.
But that’s a different story.
The students from La Prairie landed in Regina at absolutely the perfect time. Round one had started, game two was looming and I was no longer a threat to die at any moment. Unfortunately the boys were already down one game, and out of the baker’s dozen of visiting Montrealers I was the only one stuck housing a Nordiques fan.
Nice kid, if you don’t count his horrible taste in hockey teams, mullets and mint flavoured Kool-Aid – which by the way I saw people out there drowning themselves in and is easily the nastiest beverage I ever had AND resembles delicious Lemon-Lime in appearance only. Don’t be fooled.
Well, after Quebec had won the first game in overtime – the Habs’ lone OTL of that run – the Nordiques skated the boys into the ground in the second game. And I had to spend every second of it with a mullet-sporting mouthpiece yammering about it in my ear.
And seeing as he was a guest in our home and my family is so bloody hospitable, they all felt a compelling need to assist Mr. Bouquet in his celebratory rants. My blood boiled at a roll I’ve only since adapted to through encounters with Leaf fans and I was VERY close to ‘acting out’ in a regrettable way.
Game three went to overtime and I distinctly recall thinking of how I might dispose of the body should Quebec prevail and Bouquet commence in torturous delight. Thankfully, the game ended in favour of a crimeless evening and the tides of the series were turned. And, of course, everyone knows exactly what Les Canadiéns accomplished thereafter.
For the next three games, as the Habs disposed of Bouquet’s beloved, I was able to bask in a few of the most satisfying victories I’ve ever witnessed and I’m only slightly disappointed in my grace-lacking, unsportsmanlike behaviour through their duration.
The little s#!t had it coming.
The moral of this story is not that 2010 resembles 1993 in a ‘Montreal is going to win the Cup’ sort of way because the differences between the two teams and years FAR outweigh the similarities. It’s just that I – like almost any Habs fan right now – have been feeling a little down or at least a little worried about this situation the club is in and it reminded me of another time when I felt this way.
Now I know I haven’t been to the Bell Centre this year, but I sure have thrown up a lot after hockey games. And I know I’m not being humiliated by some mouthy kid staying at my house, but my team has been serenaded out of Philly’s barn twice with their own flippin’ song and that sure did make my blood boil.
So I guess the moral of this long story for my fellow Habs fans out there is, whether fate or history or any other force has a say in this outcome in the end, all that matters to us right now is we aren’t finished yet.
As my buddy Nasty would say: Chip and a chair boys.
Enjoy game three everyone.