MTL pro-sports roundup

Jamie O'Meara

Montréalers are passionate about a lot of things – food, festivals, fun, music, more food – and this passion also sees its expression in our DNA-deep love and appreciation of the city’s professional sports teams and events. And with the legendary Montréal Canadiens, Alouettes, Impact, Rogers Cup and more filling up an action-packed pro-sports schedule in 2018, there’s a lot to love.

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Habs in the home stretch

We’ll kick things off with the National Hockey League’s Montréal Canadiens (or “Habs,” from the French word “habitants”) because, win or lose, they’re always the biggest sports story in town at this time of the year as we head into the final stretch of the regular season. Though the team hasn’t had the year they’d hoped for, and have been beset by injuries to key players like hard-shooting defenceman Shea Weber, star goaltender Carey Price and captain Max Pacioretty, the “bleu, blanc et rouge” are moving in the right direction as they make moves to get younger and faster with rookie wingers like Nikita Scherbak and Charles Hudon, and Finnish netminding prospect Antti Niemi. The regular season wraps up April 7 – the Habs’ final home game is against Winnipeg on April 3 at the Bell Centre – and with a little luck you might be able to find tickets at the Ticket Vault, the Canadiens’ official ticket resale site.

Play-action on the mountain

Montrealers looove their pigskin, and anticipation always runs high for the season start of our Canadian Football League Montréal Alouettes (or “Als”). Home field Percival-Molson Stadium, nestled into the side of Mount Royal, provides for a dramatic setting complete with scenic views of the city. But the fun isn’t only on the field. Before each home game, ticket holders are invited to the Alouettes’ tailgate party, featuring barbecues supplied for free by the Als (it’s bring your own food). A flurry of off-season signings and coaching changes will make for an exciting, re-energized team on the gridiron this year. The Alouettes open the season at home, June 22, against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, with new Al’s quarterback Josh Freeman (a former NFL-er who has played with the Giants, Vikings and Colts, among others) anchoring the offensive line. Tickets are on sale now.

The other kind of “foot” ball

It’s a mostly new-look Montréal Impact this year – just in time for the popular soccer club’s 25th anniversary – with a bevy of new players and a new French coach (former Lyon boss Rémi Garde). The Impact, Montréal’s Major League Soccer (MLS) team, enjoy a loyal and growing fan base in the city, drawing more than 20,000 fans on average to raucous, albeit very family friendly, home games at the outdoor Saputo Stadium. Moreover, playoff games at the adjacent Olympic Stadium have been known to draw in excess of 60,000 faithful. The team’s next home games include matches against the Los Angeles Football Club (April 21), the New England Revolution (May 5) and the Philadelphia Union (May 12). Best to buy your tickets in advance.

Heavy hitters on deck

Though Montrealers may have lost their beloved Montréal Expos (“Nos Amours,” as they were affectionately called), they’ve never lost their love of the game of baseball. Quite the opposite: annual Major League Baseball exhibition games played at Olympic Stadium regularly attract upwards of 50,000 diehard ball fans (invariably fuelling hopes that America’s favourite pastime will once again make its return to the city). This year’s pre-season matchup features the Toronto Blue Jays taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in back-to-back games, March 26-27. Tickets are available here.

Female tennis aces to hold court

The very best in women’s tennis return to lay down the law at the Rogers Cup in Montréal this summer, one of the most anticipated events on the city’s professional sports calendar (last year’s men’s event set an all-time world record for attendance with 216,097 fans). The greats will again be out in force this year as nine of the top WTA players in the world have elected to participate, including Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Rafael Garbine Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki and Montréal’s own Eugenie Bouchard. All the action gets served up at Uniprix Stadium, August 3-12, and tickets can be found here.

The WWE throws it down in town

And whether you call it pro sports or pro theatre, we can all agree to call it crazy fun when professional wrestling rolls into Montréal (a city with a long and loving relationship with rasslin’). In back-to-back events, WWE Raw – with featured “superstars” Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and more – thunders into the Bell Centre on April 30, and the next night, May 1, it’s WWE Smackdown with AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Charlotte Flair and a pile-on of others. Get a lock on a ticket here.

Jamie O’Meara

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.