Former Expo Tim Raines honoured at Montreal ceremonies

Former Montreal Expo Tim Raines is in Montreal for two days of honours, including a ceremony at the Olympic Stadium Friday. He drops the puck at the Bell Centre tonight.

Star outfielder to be inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame in July

Tim Raines played 13 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos. (Jonathan Daniel / Allsport)

Former Montreal Expo Tim Raines is in Montreal for two days of honours which include a gala Thursday and a ceremony at the Olympic Stadium Friday. 

It's expected that Mayor Denis Coderre will give Raines the key to Montreal during the festivities — an honour previously bestowed on Al Pacino in 2015 and William Shatner last year.

Even the Montreal Canadiens are getting in on the act: the star outfielder will drop the puck at the Bell Centre when the Habs meet the Florida Panthers Thursday evening. 

 A montage of Raines' accomplishments will play on the big screen.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Raines said he came to Montreal as a 19-year-old from the U.S. and grew up here.

"It was different to me, being a Florida boy, a country boy, I didn't speak French very well," Raines said.

Looking forward, he hopes to see the Expos back in Montreal one day.

'It's been a lot of fun, thinking about it, talking about it and the chance that it could happen," he said.

The Baseball Hall of Fame

Montreal's baseball fans were thrilled in January when it was announced that the Expos star outfielder was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Raines will join Andre Dawson and Gary Carter as the only players to enter the hall representing the Expos.

Coderre, a major league fan — and one of the key advocates of bringing professional baseball back to Montreal — was excited to see another one of the Expos honoured.

"I mean the Kid, the Kid with the Hawk: the Rock will meet them, with Pedro. It's amazing," Coderre said in January, referring to the three Expos Hall of Famers by their nicknames.  

"It's great for baseball. It's great for sports. It's great for Montreal."

Raines spent 13 big league seasons with the Montreal Expos.

Coderre dismisses upcoming Expos return

Despite Coderre's enthusiasm about bringing the Expos back to Montreal, he was quick to douse rumours that the team could be returning in the near future.

"What I'm saying to people is, be patient. There is work being done," Coderre said Thursday. 

He said as the proposal's backers look at possible sites for the stadium, parking and public transit are among the considerations. 

On Wednesday, The Canadian Press reported that a group of investors had met the conditions of Major League Baseball to get a team back in the city.

According to secret sources, investors are now just waiting on MLB commissioner Rob Manfred for the green light.

Coderre tweeted that the article was misleading fans.

He added later that the process of getting a team back wasn't being rushed, despite how fast it seemed to be moving.

"For the return of the Expos: he who goes slowly, goes sanely and goes far.," he said, referring to an old Italian expression, tweeting half in Italian and half in French.

"Step by step, slowly but surely. We respect the wishes of the MLB."