CBC Digital Archives

Last game at the Montreal Forum

Three colours, 24 Stanley Cups, over 3,000 victories, millions of fans – and 100 years. In 2009 the Montreal Canadiens celebrate their centennial as one of hockey's most legendary teams. The Habs have made Montrealers proud, but they are beloved far beyond their hometown for their star players and impressive records. CBC Digital Archives pays tribute to the bleu, blanc et rouge with 14 remarkable moments in Habs history.

On March 11, 1996, a contingent of former Montreal Canadiens captains marks the final hockey game played at the Forum. The gesture quite literally marks the passing of the torch from the historic venue to the Molson Centre, the new home of hockey's most storied team. In this CBC News report, fans and players past and present say goodbye to the Forum, a place of great history and great emotion for the Canadiens.
• During a pre-game ceremony, long-serving Habs captain Emile Bouchard (the eldest of the assembled participants) was first to carry a torch, passing it on to Maurice Richard, who in turn hands the fiery wand to the great Jean Béliveau. The pattern continued until the torch was in the hands of Pierre Turgeon, who would be the first Canadiens player to wear the "C" at the spacious new Molson Centre. • Fifty-six years prior to this historic night, in 1940, Montreal Canadiens head coach Dick Irvin undertook some inspirational redecorating at the Forum. Determined to overcome a nine-year Stanley Cup draught, Irvin lifted a line from John McRae's First World War poem, In Flanders Fields, and had it painted on the Canadiens dressing room wall: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high."

• Although thoughtful and inspired, the torch ceremony was not as touching as the moment at which Maurice Richard was introduced to the capacity crowd of nearly 18,000. Visibly moved by what must be one of the most sustained ovations in the grand old building's history, The Rocket waved in acknowledgement of the eight-minute outpouring, smiling and shaking his head as he dabbbed at the corners of his watery eyes.

• Also on hand to pay tribute, and be paid tribute to, were Canadiens greats Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Gump Worsley, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Frank and Peter Mahovlich, among others. Legendary Habs general manager Sam Pollock and former dynasty-crafting head coach Scotty Bowmanweare in attendance, too.

• The final game at the Forum featured the Canadiens taking on the Dallas Stars, affording Dallas coach Bob Gainey an opportunity to participate in the ceremony alongside many of his former Canadiens teammates. The Dallas roster also included longtime Canadiens forward Guy Carbonneau.

• The Canadiens win their final game at the Forum by a score of 4-1.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: March 11, 1996
Guest(s): Guy Carbonneau, Vincent Damphousse, Dickie Moore
Reporter: Mark Kelley
Duration: 2:48

Last updated: March 12, 2014

Page consulted on March 12, 2014

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