Wednesday, October 8th 2014. For many, it is just another day to go to work, put in their eight hours and go home to their families. For fans of the Montreal Canadiens though, it is an opportunity to wipe the sleight clean, start over, and start up another pursuit for Lord Stanley’s Cup. For me and my father though, October 8th will represent something even greater, at 7:00 o clock on Wednesday we both become armchair GM and coach as our passion for the Canadiens shines through, 82 games and beyond.
As a young boy growing up in Dashwood Ontario, I have faint memories of the Canadiens last trip to glory. Winning the Cup in 1993 meant I got to see my dad cheer and soak in all that came with winning the franchises 24th Stanley Cup. The only issue was, I was five years old and barely understood the game myself, the significance of winning a cup, let’s just say that went sailing over my head. The lasting memory I took away from that night was, when the good guys win, I wouldn’t want to be with anyone other than my dad. We moved to Rochester NY in 1995 and with that came less and less Canadiens games. Living in the heart of Buffalo Sabre territory meant the boys in red white, and blue were less and less available. By the early 2000’s, I had fallen in love with the goal-tending position and current players like Jose Theodore and Saku Koivu. While they did not represent the Lafleur’s, Robinson’s and Dryden's of my father’s era, they brought us out of our seats in the spring of 2002 for the first time since that magical run in 1993. I was fourteen years old and that six game victory over the Bruins was the first time I had seen my dad cheer and dance the same as in 1993. This was our team and they were winning again! I will never forget when we returned home after game six, my dad turned to my mom and said "Jill, the Canadiens won, and the Bruins lost, all is back to normal."
Each playoff season, the fire would return and the love affair with the Canadiens grew more and more. The comeback in 2004 and the magical end of season run led by Cristobal Huet in 2006 were some of the highlights. The thing was, it was only that end of season playoff runs that made it onto our TV’s in Western NY, no more.
The fall of 2006 I moved to Oshawa Ontario for University and discovered a magical thing my roommate had called, NHL Centre Ice. Suddenly each and every Canadiens game was available to me and from 2006 to 2009 I didn’t miss a game. I had, like my dad before me, fallen deeply in love with the Canadiens. The brilliance of Kovalev, the demeanor of Markov and the rise of now franchise goalie Carey Price were all things I loved watching on a regular basis.
Once I moved back home, and during the lockout of 2012 I decided to purchase Centre Ice for dad and I. We could share in the ups and downs together again! New stars such as Subban, Galchenyuk, and Gallagher have emerged and each and every game is filled with cheers and the occasional player personal decision made from our couch. Watching the run of 2014 go all the way into June just reaffirmed what I already thought. Hockey for me is not just about the players on the ice, it’s about who I am with. Hockey for me is about family. Where will I be Wednesday the 8th, at 7? Right next to my dad, in our game time seats, cheering, together.