When memory knocks on the door of the mind.
I went to Montreal in September and while there I visited the Temple de la Renommee (or Hall of Fame) in the Bell Centre. The Bell Centre is the home of the Montreal Canadiens. The Montreal Canadiens are a hockey team…um…they’re THE hockey team. If you’re around my age (36) and live in Canada, you probably grew up thinking that there were two Canadian teams in the NHL – the Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oh sure, there were the Winnipeg Jets, the Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Quebec Nordiques, but if you grew up like I did, there were only two real Canadian teams. And if you liked the Canadiens, you hated the Leafs, and vice versa.
I was raised to believe that God had created the Habs (the Canadiens are nicknamed the Habs, after les Habitants, a name used for the French settlers and farmers from the 17th century) on the eighth day after he rested up. Presumably, God needed to rest up in order to create the greatest hockey team to ever exist. I went through a short phase of liking the Leafs, when Wendell Clark played for them. Being a Saskatchewan boy myself, I felt it necessary to cheer for a local boy. I think a good part of it, however, was that I needed to piss off my Dad by cheering for his nemesis. I still loved the Habs, but needed to rebel a little.
As I sat in the theatre in the Hall of Fame at the Bell Centre, watching the history of the Habs, I relived my childhood Saturday nights watching the Habs play the early game at 4:30 on CBC. Hockey Night in Canada. I felt tears well up as I remembered my Dad and me sitting together in front of a tiny t.v. set watching Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, and Patrick Roy win the 1986 Stanley Cup. I was a little overwhelmed by the whole situation – I had no idea how much I loved the Habs, how much they had been a part of my psyche until I was there, sitting in a tiny theatre watching a replay of my 12 year old memory of the Habs winning the Cup.
I called my Dad shortly afterward and we talked a little bit. I ended up buying him a Jean Beliveau shirt – his favorite player. I got choked up on the phone and had to cut the call short – I told him it was because I had to move on in the tour, but it was really just that memory had knocked me for a loop. He’s leaving on a trip to Guatemala tomorrow morning, so I’ll miss watching this season with him – I’ll miss him. I guess I’ll have to create those memories with my son this year.
The shot above was taken in the Temple and is a mask worn and signed by Ken Dryden in his first season as a Hab in 1971-2. The marks are from pucks nailing him in the face. I wonder if that has as much impact as a memory.