Someone at work asked me why I was a Montreal Canadiens fan. Well, it’s like this …
Back in the late 70s, Cleveland had a/an (allegedly) professional NHL team, the Barons. I loved ’em, the poor saps, although they were every bit as bad then as the Indians are now. It could be fairly said (given the pitiful state of the defensemen on the team) that the Barons could have a full complement on the ice and still put their opponents in a power play position. My favorite player was goalie Gilles Meloche, one of the few good players on the team (and who later was a coach for the Pens). He had a below-four GA average, which is amazing when you consider there wasn’t much in front of him. Our first line was the 3M line of Al McAdam, Dennis Marouk and Bob Murdoch.
I won tickets to actually go see games, and I almost never missed a game on the radio (or on TV, on those rare occasions when they were televised and I was able to get to the TV set). I even bought a real jersey (I’m trying to remember how I convinced my mom to let me do that!)
Well, one of the years of the Barons’ existence was the 1976-77 season when the Canadiens only lost eight games. The amazing thing was, one of those losses was to the BARONS(!) of all teams. We were all so thrilled (all ten of us fans, I think, by that point) you’d have thought we won the Stanley Cup.
Anyway, after the Barons went away, I became intrigued by the Habs (as they are known in Quebec) and Guy LaFleur, who was one of the big guys in hockey (at a time before Wayne Gretzky came along). And since I couldn’t bring myself to root for the Minnesota North Stars (which is what I think the Barons became when they merged), I started supporting les Habs. It was harder in those days, with no Internet, since my folks wouldn’t let me subscribe to the Montreal Gazette. Eventually, life got in the way and I let my sports enthusiasms kinda fall by the wayside, except for the perennially interesting Browns (this was the era of the Kardiac Kids and the eventual appearance of Bernie Kosar on the horizon), and I let hockey slide too.
Since my current fascination with all things French, French-Canadian and Cajun arose, I started following the Canadiens again — it helped that the NHL didn’t quite manage to commit suicide with that idiotic strike — and so, kiddies, that’s why Aunt Janet has bookmarked the Gazette Canadiens page and why she may have to start wearing a wig. She keeps tearing her hair because Jacques Martin won’t give Halak an ongoing chance as gardien! Ah, well … Go Habs Go!
Can you say ‘Jaroslav Halak’? Good! I knew you could …