Relive great sports moments in Montréal

Sports
  • Rogers Cup presented by National Bank - Denis Shapovalov
  • Place du Centenaire du Centre Bell - Canadiens
Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett

Montréal is a city that loves sports, from the major leagues and the Olympics to amateur competitions and edgy urban sports festivals. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable moments in Montréal sports history.

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Nadia Comăneci’s perfect 10s

There’s plenty of iconic moments (not to mention architectural wonders) from the 1976 Montréal Summer Olympic Games, but none so dear in the hearts of sports fans as Romanian Nadia Comăneci’s gasp-worthy perfect 10s.

Gilles Villeneuve takes the trophy

In the first Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada held in Montréal in 1978, local hero and Ferrari icon Gilles Villeneuve took the chequered flag on the new Circuit Île Notre-Dame, renamed Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve after Villeneuve died following an accident during the final qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix in May 1982.

Click here to read about the illustrious history of auto racing in Montreal, and here for a comprehensive guide to the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada onsite activities and F1 celebrations throughout the city.

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Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Durán 

Billed as “The Brawl in Montréal”, the legendary boxing match between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Durán was held on June 20, 1980 at Olympic Stadium. After 15 hard-foug

Jackie Robinson breaks pro baseball’s colour barrier in Montréal

Jackie Robinson is remembered in American history as the player who broke Major League Baseball’s colour barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. But Robinson broke pro baseball’s colour barrier a year earlier when he played for the Dodgers’ fabled Triple A team, the Montréal Royals, in 1946.

After his historic season in Montréal, Robinson wrote in his 1948 memoir My Own Story, “As the plane roared skyward and the lights of Montréal twinkled and winked in the distance, I took one last look at this great city where I had found so much happiness. ‘I don’t care if I ever get to the majors,’ I told myself. ‘This is the city for me. This is paradise.’”

Click here for Montréal landmarks in the life of Jackie Robinson.

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The Montreal Expos

Canada’s first Major League Baseball team, the Montréal Expos played their first home game at the Jarry Park stadium on April 14, 1969. It was also the first MLB game played outside of the U.S. and the Expos enjoyed a surprise win against the St. Louis Cardinals. After almost 3,000 games and a 36-year history in Montréal, the Expos became the Washington Nationals after the 2004 season. The team is still beloved in Montréal where iconic Expos mascot Youppi! remained to become mascot for the Canadiens de Montréal NHL hockey team.

Meanwhile, Montréal Expos diehard baseball fan Perry Giannias – who organizes the annual all-star Expos Fest Celebrity Gala when former Expos greats return to Montréal to raise money for the Kat D DIPG Foundation at the Montréal Children’s Hospital – owns the world’s largest collection of Expos memorabilia. Click here for a peak at the collection and for news about the next Expos Fest.

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Montréal wins the Stanley Cup in 1993

The year the Montréal Canadiens won their 24th Stanley Cup, they were a team of destiny. The arrival of head coach Jacques Demers and unstoppable goaltender Patrick Roy paved the way to glorious victory against the Los Angeles Kings on June 9, 1993. The match was the last Stanley Cup Final series played in the Montréal Forum, and the last time Wayne Gretzky – “The Great One” – would compete in finals.

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Maurice Richard says goodbye to the Montréal Forum

Hockey icon Maurice “Rocket” Richard adored his hometown of Montréal where he had a magical connection with fans, transcended the sport and was idolized as a god.

The Canadiens de Montréal right-winger and Hockey Hall-of-Famer received a moving seven-minute standing ovation on March 11, 1996, marking the Habs’ last game at the fabled Montréal Forum, revered worldwide as a temple of hockey.

Click here for some Montréal landmarks in the life of Maurice Richard, and click here for all you need to know about attending Canadiens de Montréal hockey games at the Bell Centre.

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The return of Saku Koivu in 2002

In one of the most moving sports moments in Montréal history, fans rose to their feet in a nine-minute standing ovation for the return of the Canadiens de Montréal team captain Saku Koivu on April 9, 2002, after missing 79 games during treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. That night grew sweeter as Koivu led the Canadiens to victory – grabbing their first spot in the playoffs in four years.

Clean sheet!

Major League Soccer club and United Soccer League First Division champs CF Montréal inaugurated their 20,801-seat natural grass Stade Saputo stadium in the Olympic Park with a historic 4-1 win against the Seattle Sounders FC on June 16, 2012.

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Woody gets wet

At the 2007 Presidents Cup at the Royal Montréal Golf Club, golfer Woody “Aquaman” Austin proved the adage that winners never quit – even when they fall face-first into the water.

The Royal Montréal Golf Club will again host the world’s best players for the 2024 Presidents Cup.

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Charles Hamelin’s crowning achievement

In 2015, after postponing retirement for one more year, Montréaler Charles Hamelin sped to victory as the overall world champion in short-track speed skating at the Aréna Maurice Richard in front of an ecstatic hometown crowd. 

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Denis Shapovalov’s surprise win at the Rogers Cup

In 2017, 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov beat world No. 1 Rafael Nadal at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, stunning tennis fans the world over.

The NBO tournaments in Montréal and Toronto alternate the ATP and WTA tours annually. The NBO is the third-oldest title in tennis, behind only Wimbledon and the US Open, and the oldest tennis tournament that is not a Grand Slam.

Beginning in 2025, the NBO expands to a 12-day main draw event and adopts a structure closer to the one employed by the Grand Slams, growing from 56-player fields to 96 players, with the exception of Olympic years. The NBO will also offer equal prize money to women and men starting in 2027.

Click here for information about the latest Montréal tournament.

Touchdown!

The Montréal Alouettes Football Club of the Canadian Football League was founded 1946, and won their first Grey Cup in 1949. The team won their eighth Grey Cup in 2023. The team play their regular-season home games at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium located at McGill University on the foot of Mount Royal.

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Nathan Zsombor-Murray’s golden birthday

On his 15th birthday, Montréaler Nathan Zsombor-Murray won gold in synchronized diving at the 2018 FINA Diving World Series in Montréal alongside his diving partner Meaghan Benfeito. The duo finished in first with 322.08 points.

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Yoland Cabot’s one heck of a catch!

Setting the crowd wild, Yoland Cabot of the UFA’s Montréal Royal ultimate Frisbee team, pulled off a killer catch with style, at a home opener no less.

Women’s hockey sets attendance record in Montréal

During the inaugural Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) season, Montréal drew a sold-out crowd of 21,105 to the Bell Centre in their April 20, 2024, matchup against Toronto, marking the largest attendance ever recorded for a women's hockey game worldwide.

Richard Burnett

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ+ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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