Writing about how I became a fan of the Montreal Canadiens is tantamount to explaining how I became Canadian; it is who I am. It is a large part of my identity. Whether it is a family member, or a long-time friend, they will all list my attachment to the Canadiens organization among the top-5 things that make me who I am.
This post is part of an ongoing series on Eyes on the Prize wherein the authors will tell you how they came to love the Montreal Canadiens. It is also the beginning of a contest! In order to enter, write your own experience of becoming a fan as a fanpost on EOTP. All those who write a post will be entered into a draw for a Habs t-shirt jersey (shersey) of their choice. The Active Stick encourages you to not choose Rene Bourque. The deadline to enter will be December 1st, so we'll have time to give the winner his or her gift before the holidays.
I can state honestly, and without a hint of exaggeration that I became a Montreal Canadiens fan before I understood this fandom as a conscious choice. In my home, in my family, in my neighbourhood we were simply Habs fans.
I was born within 250 metres of the Montreal Forum, and grew up in a poor Irish neighbourhood just 10 kilometres (Montreal south) from the one true hockey shrine. The first time I saw the Forum –and understood what it was- was from a ninth floor of the Montreal Children’s hospital. My reaction was simply to weep; it meant that much then, it means that much now.
Many of my strongest memories involving the Canadiens also involve tears. From Ken Dryden’s retirement, to Dale Hunter’s overtime goal against Rick Wamsley in 1982. My entire youth was spent focused on these moments; living them viscerally.
Now, nearly 40 years-old; a father of two and a husband to one incredibly understanding woman. I still feel an indefinable attachment to the Habs. My emotions can still be impacted by their performance, and I can still be worked up into an emotional fury by an ignorant comment. In fact, the whole idea behind my work at Boucher Scouting germinated from this frustration with uninformed opinions (particularly in the media).
As this work brings me closer to a dream I never really thought could become reality, and as I slowly begin to make a living from the game I love so dearly; every game I watch, and every single post I write remains, and will always remain, the proverbial hand of a nine-year-old boy waving in the direction of the Montreal Canadiens shouting, “pick me, pick me!”