The Montreal Canadiens’ fairy tale run at the cup has caught Canadian hockey fans by storm. Their downing of the number one seed Washington Capitals, and then putting ‘Sid the Kid’ in his place had many ‘expert’ predictions thrown out the window.
It also had Facebook lighting up like the Vegas Strip on fight night, especially after the Canucks’ demise in the playoffs.
And rightly so. It has become a Canadian tradition to get behind the last team left north of 49 in the post season. But with a team such as Montreal, there are diehards all across the country who have put up with ridicule in the lean years, but have also had the opportunity to dance a Habitant jig more than any other fans of any other team in the league.
Bob Scott is one of those fans, and this year is marking his 50th year cheering for the Canadiens. His love of the team doesn’t go back to nostalgia of the Montreal Forum (although he does have a seat) or old Montreal, but to playing hockey right here in Drumheller.
He grew up in a house right across from the arena, and every Monday night there were three games on the ice. Paddy Schaffer invited him to play as a youngster and at the time, the teams were all named after the NHL teams. His first team? You guessed it. And to add even more fable to the story, he was able to wear the #4, taking on the appearance of a pint-sized Jean Beliveau.
Along the way he has converted his family and beyond. His wife is even watching the playoffs for the first time this season. He has a basement room filled with memorabilia, and his garage is adorned with posters and even a Canadiens toolbox.
He has no problem with fans jumping on the bandwagon to support the team. There are, however, some distinctions between nouveau fans and the diehards.
“A real fan is still sore about Patrick Roy jumping ship,” laughs Scott, naming the first thing that comes to mind.
He is referring of course to “La Trade” in December 1995 when Roy demanded to leave. This is just a handful of epic moments in the history of the franchise that makes up the collective culture of the Montreal fan.
Scott’s son Tony defines it truly as a culture. To be a Habs fan is about immersing one’s self in the culture of the team. As he grew up and learned more about the team, in turn he learned more about the Quebecois culture. This is something that separates the Montreal team from dozens of other sports franchises.
Across the street from Scott lives Marcel Augey, another diehard. Both the Augey household and the Scott household have Habs flags visible to anyone who drives by. He says one key to being a diehard fan is knowing what ‘le but’ means. This is goal in French.
Most diehards, said Augey, and Scott concurs, watch most of their hockey in French. A must for a fan is Réseau des sports (RDS) the French cable sports channel. Augey said they play all the Canadiens’ games all year round.
He has no problems about new fans jumping on.
“It’s good, people are excited, all Habs fans are excited,” said Augey. “All Canadians are like that when there is a team in.”
He admits, “I had a Flames jersey on when they made a cup run, I was so excited.”
He has one more little tidbit about knowing who is a true fan of the Le Bleu-Blanc-et-Rouge.
“Real Habs fans should know what the ‘C-H’ on the jersey stands for,” said Augey. “It stands for ‘Club de Hockey.” Some think is it is for the Habs or something.”