How I Fell in Love with the Canadiens

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

So how did I get here? How did I get to my adulthood with a basement full of Maple Leafs gear only to realize that it's not even my team? I have thought about it a lot over the past few months/years and decided if I'm going to get to the bottom of this I need to collect my thoughts and write this down because once die hard fans on each side start to realize where my heart truly lies I'm going to have to explain myself. Big time. So here goes.

I've always loved sports. My first love is the Blue Jays. This was a result of being a little guy with a bag of popcorn at Exhibition Stadium and it just clicked. Crack of the bat. 30,000 strong on the edge of their seats. Love at first sight. These were my guys.

Of course growing up in Canada means that from October to June it was HNIC on Saturday nights. I wasn't bothered who was on. More often than not it was the Leafs but my dad would often switch over to the French channel to watch his Canadiens.

HIS Canadiens.

Moving to Canada from Colombia he didn't know much about the sport at first but in the 70's the Habs were the team to beat. So naturally he gravitated towards them. And I would watch as he pointed out their stars and tell me what he knew about their past. He loved his Canadiens. Still does.

I didn't get that immediate connection with them though. Maybe it was the language barrier or the distance. Whatever it was I didn't gravitate to them naturally at the time. If they were on I'd root for them. Then I'd stay up and if the Oilers were playing I'd root for them. On Sunday Fox might play the Sabres game and I'd cheer them on too.

I loved the game just not a team.

Then something happened in my most impressionable years.
Doug Gilmour happened.
The early 90's was amazing. The Blue
Jays went back to back and I let myself get swept away by the all of a sudden relevant Maple Leafs. It was all too easy to come off a championship high in baseball to root for a team seemingly destined to keep the good times rolling.

We need to do an important side track here. Amidst all this Toronto Sports histeria I came across an ad in the paper. Maurice Richard would be signing autographs.
The Rocket.
Like the REAL Rocket.
I begged my dad. We HAD to go. The Rocket! It was like seeing a unicorn!
He agreed and the day came. My dad bought me an 8 by 10 glossy and I nervously waited my turn.
I'll never forget those eyes. He stared down at me curious. He looked up to my cap. The Blue Jays. He tugged on it as if to say "should be a Canadiens cap."
There were no words other than my nervous thank you but it still burned into my soul.

I digress. The years went by and I stuck to my 'Toronto the best' guns. Adopting the Raptors and TFC along the way.

More often then not the Maple Leafs would disappoint and when they did I did what came naturally. I cheered for Montreal when the Leafs season was done.

Then PK Subban pretty much changed everything.
I attended as many Oshawa Generals games as I could and this meant seeing plenty of the Belleville Bulls and their "damn I wish he was on my team" star defenseman.
I knew he was going to be my favourite player. No matter what team drafts him I'm rooting for this kid.
And you know how that story goes.

Rooting for PK meant learning more about the team then I ever had before. And the more I learned about PK and his charity work the more I wanted him to succeed. And this Price kid! They'd be crazy to deal him they have to move Halak. And man Patches is good. Wait did I call him Patches?
And I knew.

I love the Montreal Canadiens.

Was it love at first sight? No. Am I bandwagon jumping? That's fair. You can accuse me of that. If I were in your shoes I'd be highly suspect of me too. All I ask is for time. Give me time and you'll see.

Dear Leafs Fans

I honestly hope this whole Shanaplan/Babcock thing is the real deal. I hope Stamkos goes home. I hope you're in the playoffs every year. I hope all of this because
hockey is always better when Toronto and Montreal are both at their best. I expect to hear it from you. I might even lose some of you. That's ok. Just know that I'm sincere when I say I want your team to be better. Just not against us.

Dear Habs fans

Well this is awkward. You can be skeptical. I expect it. Let me just make a few things clear.
I'll never claim those 24 cups as my own. I wasn't there. I saw you win two and I was happy FOR you but I wasn't with you. They aren't mine. I get that.

I'm really in this. Like really. I'm a card carrying Club 1909 member. I'm addicted to Habdoku and watching Duel videos. I can't decide who to put on my jersey (I'm leaning heavily towards PK). I've been slowly selling my Leafs gear for months. I watch the games. I'm even familiar with a lot of the kids in the system. I hope you'll let me in.
If it takes time well I'm ready to put in the time. It's the only thing I can do to prove myself. You won't be disappointed. Except for the odd pun on twitter cause sometimes I think I'm hilarious when I'm really not.

Dear Ottawa and Boston

Nothing changes. I still loathe you. Suck it forever.

In the last few years I had thought I lost my signed Rocket 8 by 10. I'd root thru my things all the time looking for it. A couple months ago out it slid from between the pages of some hockey cards. It brought me back to those steely eyes and that tug of the cap and it made me smile because he was right.

It should have been a Canadiens cap.

If you've taken the time to read thank you and most of all... Go Habs Go!!!

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