Habs, Leafs always an event in Montreal
Monday, November 5, 2007 | 11:18 AM ET
I know it’s cliché, and been said a million times but there is still something special about a Saturday night in Montreal when the Leafs play the Habs. It’s tough to explain, unless you’ve been there and felt it. Kind of like asking an old sax player to explain jazz… “if you have to ask, you’ll never know”.
If you’ve never made the trip to la belle province for an Original Six match-up on a Saturday night, do yourself the favour and book it now. The city completely revolves around the game and with good reason: in Montreal a Habs/Leafs game is an event. It’s not just another game on the schedule. People build their entire weekends based on the game. It occupies every conversation and interaction and while the Patriots/Colts game may have been the most anticipated sporting event this past weekend, you’d never know if you were in Montreal on the weekend.
It’s all about hockey. The game. The Habs. The Leafs. The history. The rivalry.
This past weekend was no exception.
Walking around old Montreal Saturday afternoon eavesdropping on conversations at the restaurant and coffee shops, the talk was all about either the game that night or the Saku Koivu French language flag that lit up the headlines and phone lines of talk radio shows. Everyone - not just people in Higgins and McCabe jersey’s - were talking about the game, the storylines, all the “what if” possibilities a game like this brings out in people.
Scalpers were getting pretty much what they wanted out of people and I didn’t talk to one single person who got a break on tickets or got a deal. I spoke with someone after the game who watched people dig down deep and pay pre-faceoff prices for scalped tickets even five or six minutes into the game.
Now, the game itself was not exactly a wonder to behold in my opinion. I know the fans enjoyed it, and it was exciting to watch but that was mainly because of the teams involved. If you watched the game or were there live think about this: if you took the Maple Leaf jersey’s off Toronto and put them into Blue Jacket sweaters and removed the Canadiens jersey’s off the Habs and replaced them with Panthers outfits, would you still think that was an exciting game?
Probably not but because of the history, because of the lore, because of the drama and because of who’s involved, it still feels like it means something, even if it’s between two teams who didn’t even make the playoffs last season…and might not again this year.
This afternoon on Hockey Night in Canada Radio at 4 p.m. ET (Sirius ch. 122) I’ll be joined by Kelly Hrudey for the full two hours and I’m pretty stoked to talk to Ralph Mellanby, former executive producer of Hockey Night in Canada and now author of Walking with Legends - a book outlining Mellanby’s work with HNIC. Ralph’s son Scott, 21-year NHL veteran and now analyst with Hockey Night In Canada will be in on the conversation. Also, Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the surprisingly good Columbus Blue Jackets will join us.
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About the Author
Jeff Marek, one of sports talk radio's brightest stars, is the host of the all-new HNIC Radio on SIRIUS Satellite Radio. A twelve-year sports-talk radio veteran, the Toronto native provides intelligent hockey talk, insight and debate during the two-hour national daily drive-time hockey program.
Well known for his previous work on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 Toronto Radio, Marek is one of sports talk radio's most respected personalities. He joined AM 640 in 2000, hosting The Jeff Marek Show, a nightly open-line talk show, while working as the stations' morning news anchor. He quickly became the director of sports news and joined host Bill Watters on Leafs Lunch.
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