Jay Baruchel celebrates lifelong relationship with Habs in new book

In Montreal, the actor and writer says, hockey is a religion. So he decided to put pen to paper and write a book about the fan experience, entitled Born Into It.

The Montreal-born actor and writer holds a book-signing in Montreal Monday evening

Jay Baruchel is set to attend a book-signing event in Montreal at Lower Canada College in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Monday evening. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Actor and writer Jay Baruchel, born and raised in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, wears his love for the Montreal Canadiens on his sleeve wherever he goes. 

In the film This is the End, Baruchel's charcter can be seen sporting a Habs baseball cap. In his loving portrait of feuding hockey teams in Goon and Goon 2, Baruchel's screenplay speaks to his love of the sport and its ardent fans.

In Montreal, he says, hockey is more like a religion than a sport. So he decided to put pen to paper and write a book about the fan experience titled Born Into It, published Oct. 30.

The book details Baruchel's coming to the game through his father, his clinging to it as a remedy to his self-described homesickness while living and working in Los Angeles.

Baruchel stopped by CBC Montreal's Daybreak Monday morning ahead of his book-signing at Lower Canada College, hosted by Paragraphe Books.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

On being inspired to write the book

When I looked at my bookshelf and saw that there's a whole bunch of Habs history books — and Ken Dryden articulated the macro experience of what it is to be a pro-hockey player in The Game — well, I thought the fan experience is equally important, equally vital, equally Canadian. And yet no one had shone a light or romanticized it the way that I could, at least, try to.

On the process of writing 

There were many times when I was on this lonely literary highway in my basement, just questioning many decisions I'd made in my life — not the least of which is why I thought I'd be able to do this. In those moments, I get really Canadian in the worst sense, which is [to say], 'Who do you think you are? You can't just read books? You have to write them, too, Mr. Show Off?' But it was ultimately super fun.

On still not being over the P.K. Subban trade

It's a bloody nose that will never heal. I still don't think it was worth doing. I think that the vast majority of Habs fans agree with me. I think the vast majority of the hockey world agrees with me. That this was not the greatest decision. Trades like that really shine a light on how tenuous this relationship [between the team and fans] is. The team will do what it wants. We will be there, regardless.

Jay Baruchel formerly of NDG, joins us to talk to Jessica Rusnak about his new book on Habs fandom. It's called "Born Into it - a Fan's Life". 14:01

On his hopes for this season

Look, when you have zero expectations, everything is gravy. So I think that what we're seeing is watching a team play without the weight of expectation for the first time in God knows how long. We have to start pretending that we have no Stanley Cups. This sort of rich history and legacy that enriches our games and enriches being a fan — it's also suffocating us.

When you watch the team this year, who nobody expected anything from, and they get to just play hockey games, they're entertaining, and they're hungry, and they're ambitious. And like I said, we all expected them to be a garbage fire through 82 games, and they're just not, and they're not going to be.

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak, Jessica Rusnak

About the Author

Marilla Steuter-Martin has been a journalist with CBC Montreal since 2015.