If you didn't know Peter Kilgour you might raise an eyebrow or two at the bottle of organic ketchup and the broken bottle of Molson Export that were wrapped in napkins and situated next to one of the television sets behind his bar.
But those who are on familiar terms with the dedicated Montreal Canadiens fan know there aren't many who take superstition to the level of the owner of Kilgour's, a Bloor St. bar in Toronto where Canadiens fans congregate to watch every game.
There was little joy in Kilgour's on Friday evening, when the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to snuff out the good vibrations the Canadiens provided after their shocking first-round upset of the Washington Capitals two nights earlier.
The aforementioned ketchup and beer bottles did not perform the magic the items did last Wednesday. Neither did the lucky napkins. Kilgour informs me that his joint ran out of ketchup, so his brother-bouncer Andrew was sent across the street for reinforcements.
The condiment not only kept customers delighted when they munched on their fries, Kilgour reasoned the ketchup provided luck, too. The napkins were found on the floor after goals scored by the Canadiens. The beer bottle succumbed to its death also during the big seventh-game win over the Capitals.
"See, it's working," Kilgour informs me after the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead against Pittsburgh on Friday.
"He's easily the most superstitious person on earth," add Sean Bryan, a buddy of Kilgour's who owns a nearby establishment called Crooked Star.
"The buzz in here the other night was amazing," Bryan said.
Kilgour's girlfriend, Karen Austin, was working at Crooked Star on Friday. That was fine for her because the sight of Kilgour's playoff beard is not pretty to her eyes.
"I've grown a very ugly playoff beard that my girlfriend hates," Kilgour said. "But you got to do what you got to do."
As Kilgour watches his Habs go down 6-3 to the Penguins, he sits front and centre in a blue seat from the old Montreal Forum he purchased when the Canadiens moved out of their historic home. He has it mounted to look like a barstool. But forget about trying to sit in it.
"No one comes near this one," he said.
Reserved seating for big names
Most of the seats around the bar are reserved for the big games. Andrew keeps a watchful eye on who gets in and who doesn't. "I'm a Penguins fan, so they're making me sit out on the patio," joked one customer later.
The ones who sit around Kilgour and at the bar are the most loyal Canadiens fans and customers at Kilgour's. Watching intently on one end of the bar is 58-year-old Grant Hurley.
He works in the music industry and hails from Thunder Bay when it was known as Fort William. He's been watching Canadiens games since he can remember.
"There were only six teams when I started following hockey and only one game a week [on] Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday," Hurley said.
"My father cheered for the Toronto Maple Leafs, so I cheered for the Canadiens. I just did what any rebellious son would do.
"I loved watching Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey and especially see Guy Lafleur and that hair flying round."
The 52-year-old Kilgour was raised in Toronto, but his mother is from Grand-Mère, Que., just outside of Shawinigan. Kilgour's favourite player was Jean Beliveau. He has a Canadiens sweater hanging in his closet at home autographed by the legendary No. 4.
"I met him when I was 35, but I felt like I was 14 again when I got his autograph," Kilgour recalled.
His establishment is a shrine to his beloved Habs. He has banners for each Stanley Cup title, banners for the retired numbers and so many other Canadiens keepsakes, not to mention his Pete's predictions on a whiteboard behind the bar (he went 6-2 in the first round and has Montreal, Detroit, Vancouver and Boston in this round).
Kilgour's celebrates its 15 anniversary on Tuesday, when the Habs return home for Game 3 of their second-round series. Here's hoping the celebration at the joint is a merry one and that a few more unique good luck charms have their day in the bleu, blanc et rouge.
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