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Duthie: Habs season will be one long ceremony

James Duthie
10/19/2008 6:50:41 PM
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This is not going to be a good season to be a Habs-hater.

In fact, that's an understatement on the same scale as 'This is not a good month to be a stockbroker.'

You either love or hate the Montreal Canadiens. There is no Middle Earth. If you love them, you are likely to have a winter of sheer bliss. If you despise them, if you gag at the mere mention of Les Glorieux, you are about to enter hockey's version of a Turkish prison.

First of all, they are good. Really good. Second, and much more annoying to you, the next six months will seem like one interminable ceremony celebrating everything bleu, blanc et rouge.

The Canadiens have hugantic plans for their 100th season. It all kicked off Wednesday with the unveiling of the Ring of Honour, a wonderful tribute to the 44 former players and 10 builders in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Nobody does ceremonies as well as Montreal.

Or as often.

Welcome to Habapalooza. The schedule isn't even complete yet, and already we know the Ring of Honour ceremony will be followed by (brace yourself): Builder's Night (Oct. 28), Memorable Games in Canadiens History DVD release (Nov. 4), Patrick Roy's sweater retirement (Nov. 22), Opening of Centennial Plaza (Dec. 4), Centennial Gala (Dec. 5), NHL All-Star Weekend (Jan 24-25), launch of the Canadiens Hall of Fame (April), NHL Draft (June 27), eight ''Vintage Jersey'' games, and two ''Original Six Salute'' games. Oh yeah, and the Stanley Cup Final (June).

The last one is tentative.

In contrast, the Nashville Predators' event schedule consists of a 2-for-1 Pizza night in February. That's it. (I'm kidding, of course. The Predators could never afford to give away free pizza slices.)

And I didn't even get to the Special Edition Montreal Canadiens Monopoly Game, the commemorative stamps, and a special minted Habs loonie (the only Canadian dollar that may rise in value this year).

The Canadiens, to their credit, want to give every fan at every game something special to remember about the centennial.

But man, it's a long season. So filling out an entire home schedule worth of ceremonies is a challenge. Through my extensive sources within the organization (a mailroom intern named Miguel), I've uncovered some of the yet-to-be announced special celebrations on the Habs sked:

Oct. 25 (vs. Anaheim) - Book release party for the autobiography of Youppi, the Canadiens mascot, entitled: Youppi: I really only like baseball, but I needed the money.

Nov. 15 (vs. Philadelphia) - Chez Parée Appreciation Night, a touching ceremony in honour of the distraction (and subsequent losses) this legendary men's club has caused visiting teams for decades. A bronze statue of ''Denise,'' Chez's longest serving stripper, will be unveiled outside the Bell Centre's North Entrance. (You will be able to sit near the statue, but you cannot make any physical contact).

Dec. 21 (vs. Carolina) - Sergei Samsonov Sweater Retirement. After realizing they have already honoured almost every living former player, the Habs are forced to commemorate the nine-goal, healthy scratch-filled 2006-07 season of this current Hurricane.

Dec. 25 - The Canadiens attempt to rename Christmas 'Habs Rule Day,' so that the team can be properly fêted each and every year by all of humanity. Jewish Holiday also to be renamed 'Habukkah.'

Jan. 8 (vs. Toronto) - Leafs Mathematically Eliminated From Playoff Race Night, featuring post-game fireworks and dance party! Live performance by Mitsou - assuming Mitsou can be located (This event may be cancelled if Leafs are already mathematically eliminated by January).

Feb. 21 (vs. Ottawa) - Vito (The Plumber) Sweater Retirement. After officially running out of former players to honour with the Sergei Samsonov Sweater Retirement, the Habs hold a ceremony for the guy who fixed the clog in the men's bathroom in Section 201 during a key playoff game in 1993.

Feb. 24 (vs. Vancouver) - MacDonald's begins giving out Limited Edition 'Guys Georges Laraque has Pummeled' figurines with Happy Meals. Riley Cote, Brian McGratton, Brad May, they're all there! The 'Bloodied Derek Boogaard' proves to be a favourite with the kids.

Mar. 17 (vs. Rangers) - Rocket Richard Riot Recreation Night. To celebrate the 54th anniversary of the Riot, the first 10,000 fans in the building receive souvenir Molotov cocktails. City Chamber of Commerce co-operates to allow limited post-game looting.

Apr. 11 (vs. Pittsburgh) - Last home game ceremony honouring the best ceremonies of the season. Roy, Samsonov, Youppi, Vito, Denise ... all in attendance. Not a dry eye in the house.

From The Ottawa Citizen




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