With another hockey season just around the corner TSN.ca thought we’d get you even more pumped for puck drop with a look back at the most unforgettable moments of 2009-10; from Stanley Cup overtime to Canadian Olympic gold and everything in between, join us as TSN.ca revisits the Unforgettable Moments from the last 12 months in hockey. Game on!
Patrick Roy. Ken Dryden. Larry Robinson. Guy Lafleur. Yvon Cournoyer. Henri Richard. Guy Carbonneau. Frank Mahovlich. Bob Gainey. Scotty Bowman.
It's an impressive roll call of players and coaches for any team to be able to call its own; iconic names from different eras of this great game.
But to have them all on the ice at once for a red-carpet centennial celebration honouring one of the most successful and storied franchises in all of sport? Now that's pretty special. And that's exactly what happened on December 4, 2009 at the Bell Centre in front of an enormously appreciative crowd.
"Tradition may be an overused word, but it wasn't nearly sufficient to describe this scene," says Dave Hodge of TSN's The Reporters.
The greats took to the ice for a pre-game warm-up - it's probably fair to say this was the most exciting pre-game warm-up of all-time. Only a truly jaded individual (or perhaps the most die-hard Leafs fan) didn’t feel a rush of adrenaline, a wave of nostalgia or a shivery chill go down their spine watching those former Habs heroes skate alongside one another.
"Seeing Patrick Roy skate on to the ice brought a smile to my face," says TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. "The Montreal Canadiens’ ability to marry emotion with history is unrivaled, and this is a classic example."
For TSN reporter John Lu, who covers the Habs all season long and is already accustomed to seeing some pretty cool moments, the spectacle was a real treat.
"As part of my beat, I have the privilege of seeing Canadiens' legends strolling around the Bell Centre - Jean Beliveau here, Henri Richard there - but December 4, 2009 was the equivalent of a candy addict experiencing a sugar overdose," Lu says.
Lu also says that, amidst the festivities, he couldn’t help but think about the Habs legends who couldn’t be there to see it all go down.
"Watching the parade of names and faces, old and young-ish superstars and role players, I figured that somewhere 'the Rocket', Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante and a host of other late Canadiens were sitting on their clouds and wishing they were there for the party,” Lu said.
With many of their retired numbers dangling from the rafters, it was at once sentimental, profound, surreal and awesome to see so many players from different generations skating on the same ice surface together.
There were glimpses of history in that skate. Glimpses of the franchise’s 24 Stanley Cups and 44 Hall of Fame players. Glimpses of 3,000 regular season games since 1910. Glimpses of the greatness that was, and that maybe can be again someday.
History and sentimentality aside, they also looked pretty damn good out there; it was a treat to see Dryden scraping up the crease again, his old mask sitting atop the net, or Lafleur firing pucks on net like it was 1976 (and to top it all off, the present day Habs shellacked the Bruins 5-1 that night).
Lu says the occasion once again reminded him of the Habs' uncanny ability to throw a heck of a great party.
"To see Elmer Lach moved to tears and Butch Bouchard blowing kisses to the crowd when their numbers were raised to the rafters, I was once again struck by my belief that nobody in sports does ceremony better than the Montreal Canadiens," Lu says.
Lafleur summed it up with class when he stepped to the podium to address the misty-eyed crowd.
"It was special for you guys as fans,” he said. “But for us as players, it was something unbelievable." Lafleur was talking about his time with the Canadiens, but he could’ve been talking about the ceremony.
Without a Stanley Cup since that unforgettable post-season charge in 1993, and with last year’s unexpectedly deep playoff run, fans of the Montreal Canadiens are once again looking for something unbelievable to happen.
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