Friday, February 9, 2007

Those who can't, watch.

I'm not sure what business I have liking hockey.

When I was a young kid growing up in Montreal, I really didn't pay much attention to the Montreal Canadiens, the NHL, or hockey in general. Baseball, yeah. I can still visualize the picture of Gary Carter from the Expos team (circa 1982 I think) on my bedroom wall.

But hockey? One of my cousins played for his university team. But I couldn't skate worth a damn. My dad took me to a Canadiens game in 1989, but I didn't really know what the hell was going on.

And my earliest street hockey memory involves hurling myself bodily out of the way of a hockey ball fired from about 75 feet away by a burly 18-year-old guy with a straggly beard and a pony tail (I was 10) and still rising as it found the top corner of the net.

Did I mention that I was the goalie?

Not my finest hour.

But, as they say, timing is everything. Sometime during the spring or summer (I think) of 1992, I managed to talk my parents into letting me have an old 13-inch tv in my bedroom. With a goofy-looking antenna bought at Radio Shack, I eventually discovered that I could get a fuzzy CBC signal on Channel 6, and a slightly better feed of Radio Canada on Channel 2.

Well.

The first hockey game I clearly remember watching on that little TV pitted the Habs against the Hartford Whalers in Game 2 of the Adams Division Semifinal. Denis Savard racked up 3 assists in the second period alone (finishing with 4 overall) as the Habs trounced the Whalers 5-2. Interesting. Then, of course, they got bounced from the playoffs by the Bruins, Pat Burns quit, and Serge Savard went shopping, picking up Vincent Damphousse and Brian Bellows and moving out Russ Courtnall, Shayne Corson, Brent Gilchrest and Mike McPhee.

As the 1992-93 season began, I discovered that Habs games could be found on channel 10 (TVA) and UHF-35 (TQS). With Dick Irvin and Steve Shutt on the radio and the TV volume at zero, my little TV and I followed the Habs through a roller-coaster of a season, which (of course) culminated in an improbable 24th Stanley Cup.

And I was hooked.

And I still am, despite the fact that the Habs have not been nearly as generous to their fans in the years since what hockey historians now generally agree was a lucky Cup win. Even since moving to the Outaouais region, I've kept my allegiance, despite subtle and less-subtle prods from friends and co-workers that I should move on back the Sens.

Which leads me to the present day, with my beloved Habs stumbling through an inconsistent season that began with great promise. As I write this, RDS is reporting that coach Guy Carbonneau (damn, the act of typing that makes me feel old) has -again - shuffled the lines, with Alexei Kovalev now projected to ride shotgun with Saku Koivu and Chris Higgins.

We play the Sens tomorrow. Blogging will be light. Unless we get our asses handed to us in the first period, in which case blogging will be heavy and colourful.

1 comment:

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