The puck drops on new-look Habs’ season
True bleu (blanc et rouge) hockey fans love a good story, and fortunately for the Montreal Canadiens faithful, the team is never short on entertaining narratives. Often, and rightly, referred to as the most storied franchise in the National Hockey League (they’ve won 24 Stanley Cup championships, loads more than any other team), they’re not disappointing anyone in that department again this year.
The team, they are a-changin’
Known affectionately as the “Habs” (from the French “Habitants”) in these here parts, the Montreal Canadiens will play their 2017-18 home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 10. There are already a number of interesting storylines unfolding, stemming from a flurry of big player changes, the departure of long-time defensive partner Andrei Markov and forward Alexander Radulov. Adding to the roster intrigue is the acquisition of star forward Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay, sturdy defenseman Karl Alzner from the Washington Capitals and veteran winger Ales Hemsky. And the feeling is that it’s about to get even more interesting.
Home ice advantage
The 101-game NHL regular season includes 41 home ice games at the 21,302-capacity Bell Centre, which boasts the most electric atmosphere in the NHL and which essentially makes Montréal vibrate for six months between October and April. The first home game goes against Chicago on October 10, and the second is against league arch-rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 14. It’s been 12 years of consecutive sold-out home games since the Canadiens moved to the Bell Centre from the former epicentre of Habs hockey awesomeness in the city, the Montréal Forum, which is now an imaginatively repurposed entertainment, business and resto complex that pays innovative tribute to its former self.
Tickets! Get your tickets!
The Habs are so deeply ingrained in the city’s psyche that tickets can be hard to come by. While the majority of regular season seats are sold out before the very first faceoff, the Canadiens organization holds a number of additional individual tickets in reserve, which can be bought throughout the season on the Canadiens' site. Failing that, season ticket holders also put unused tickets up for purchase on the team-sanctioned resale site The Vault.
And perhaps you’d like to join the club?
Named for the year the Canadiens were founded (fun fact: the Habs are the longest continuously operating professional ice hockey team in the world), Club 1909 is the official points program and online portal for Canadiens fans. Anyone can join, it’s free, and in addition to rewards, they also do tons of fun stuff, like their current “Name in the Ice” promotion: everyone who registers for Club 1909 will have their name printed and frozen into the Bell Centre ice when the arena schedule permits, making them a very literal part of the game. Go Habs, go!
Jamie O’Meara, blogger
Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.