"Les Canadiens Sont La!"
We emigrated from the UK in 1967 (I was seven) and we settled in Toronto. The Leafs were the champs that year. But from the first time I saw them I was hooked on Les Canadiens. Maybe it was the colourful uniforms (bleu-blanc-et rouge as compared to the drab blue and white of the Leafs); maybe it was the passion of the fans (the Forum had an organ, a bugler named "Dutchy", and Roger Doucette who sometimes made up his own words to the national anthem, the Gardens had no music until the early seventies, and even then it was endless choruses of "The Maple Leaf Forever" on a very protestant-sounding Wurlitzer, and the same scratchy record of "O Canada" we listened to as part of our public school opening exercises); maybe it was the technicolour language and near cardiac gasping and groaning of Danny Gallivan (while the Leafs had the nasal intoning of Bill Hewitt); or maybe it was the storied, quasi-mythical history and tradition of the Flying Frenchmen. From an early age, I read voraciously everything I could get my hands on about the Canadiens. My favourites were the autobiographies of Rocket Richard and Jean Beliveau, and Andy O'Brien's "Firewagon Hockey", which I read over and over again.
Or maybe I just wanted to be different. The only Toronto team I supported growing up was the Blue Jays. The high points of my teen years were discovering Star Trek and watching the Canadiens kick Maple Leaf ass (see video above from April, 1978--btw this is not a power play!) again and again and again.
I could go on. It's in my blood, I'm afraid. I'll root for the Oilers... except for when they play the Habs. So I'm especially excited this spring... even though the shrine of Les Forum has given way to the hi-tech Centre Bell , Dutchy has long ago hung up his horn, Danny Gallivan and Roger Doucette have shed this mortal coil, and the Flying Frenchmen are more like the Rushing Russians.
Go Habs go!