Bonjour Fackers. Pardon my French; I spent the weekend in Montreal for a college buddy's bachelor party. It will take quite some time for my sleep patterns, liver, bank account, and sense of dignity to recover. The file on this weekend has been permanently sealed, but I am at liberty to disclose that our waiter at the steak house Friday night looked exactly like this guy.
As I've touched upon here several times in the past, I'm a big hockey fan as is the groom to be. So Saturday night naturally entailed a trip to the Bell Centre to see the Canadiens play the Devils. It isn't nearly as historic as its predecessor, but with so many of the NHL's most fabled rinks - the Forum, the Boston Garden, Maple Leaf Gardens, Chicago Stadium - now just memories, the Bell Centre, with 24 Stanley Cup banners and 17 retired numbers filling its rafters, has to be considered hockey's foremost cathedral.
As Yankee fans, we're familiar with having our team play in a historically significant venue. We're fortunate enough that when the new Yankee Stadium opened this past year it was christened with a championship. The Bell Centre is currently in its thirteenth season as the Canadiens' home and has yet to add a new Stanley Cup banner to its collection.
Unfortunately for me, I couldn't even see those banners Saturday night. Our seats were in the third to last row of the arena, and the suspended press box blocked our view of the rafters. No cup banners, no retired numbers (including the #7 of Howie Morenz, distant relative of the Yankees' 1995 #1 pick Shea Morenz), not even the banner commemorating the Expos' retired numbers of Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Rusty Staub, and Tim Raines.
Despite our nosebleed location, the view was still pretty good. The atmosphere was outstanding; the arena was packed and the crowd was extremely into the game; the Canadian national anthem may have been the best part of the night. Just as the Yankees do at the Stadium, the Habs are certain to remind you of their storied history, with an outstanding pre game presentation listing the names of every player in their history interspersed with highlights of the likes of Jean Beliveau, Denis Savard, and Patrick Roy. The fans were extremely friendly, especially considering most of our group were Devils fans. I think the obnoxious Jersey Shore reject in the row in front of us helped in drawing to himself whatever ire may have been directed at us otherwise.
Lastly, because I'm sure friend of the blog Jonah Keri will be curious about it, yes, there was a Youppi sighting. He's so barely discernible in the picture I took that it's not even worth posting, but he was last seen hitching a ride atop a zamboni at the end of the night.
One last hockey note: the NCAA tournament started this weekend, and like its basketball counterpart, it was not without drama and upsets. RIT, alma mater of my good friend Lutkus and my friend Matt's girlfriend Rachel, which wasn't even a Divison I program a few years ago and was one of the bottom two teams in the tournament, upset national powerhouses Denver and New Hampshire to reach the Frozen Four. Meanwhile Boston College beat Alaska Fairbanks 3-1 and then took a 9-7 barnburner over Yale to advance to their fourth Frozen Four in the last five years and ninth in the last thirteen.
Thus concludes my weekend hockey round up. Come this time next week we'll have real live baseball to discuss.