10 Things Every Habs Fan Should Do Before They Die
A couple of years back I Read a book called "100 Things Canadiens Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die", while I did enjoy the read, I didn't think every one of those was worth it and it made me wonder what I would consider essential. In no particular order, here's my list of 10 things Canadiens fans should do before they die, a Habs fan bucket list if you will.
1. Attend an outdoor game
Granted there may be too many of those now and the novelty has worn off but I've rarely had such a thrill as when I attended the Winter Classic on January 1, 2016 in Foxboro. It's hard to describe the feeling of starting a "Go Habs Go" chant in the middle of a giant Bruins' fan tailgate and survive to tell the tale. There's something special about sitting amongst 66, 828 fans and cheering on your team, especially when they win. Worth trying at least once for sure.
2. Attend a practice in Brossard
There's many ways to enjoy this one. For collectors, it's a way to go autograph hunting and for those who do not collect, it's still interesting to see the practice facility first hand and discover the day's lines and D-pairing first end. If you're lucky, you might even get to chat with a few Habs covering journalists and most of them are rather interesting to talk to. You can also witness in person some pure fun because sometimes, those pro look just like little boys playing on the pond. If Price makes a spectacular save and the shooter screams in frustration, there will be some teasing you can bet on that!
3. Get On the Press Gallery
A lot of fans believe the best seats in the house are in the red as low as you can go but personally, I enjoy the view higher up and from one end of the ice, that way you miss nothing of the action but there's something even better still: the press gallery. I was lucky enough to win a contest that allowed me to watch the game from up there and the view is absolutely priceless. It's an experience I wish everyone could take in...
4. Read some Habs books
If you're really passionate about the team, you can't go wrong by reading a few books about it or its players. Some of my favourites include: The Game by Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy: Winning and Nothing Else and The Montreal Canadiens 100 Years of Glory. Chances are, you'll learn something about your team and really enjoy the entertainment.
5. Attend an alumni game
Les anciens Canadiens takes part in a lot of events during hockey season or even in the summer. Former players play hockey or softball and you can generally get VIP tickets which allow you to meet the players and get some autographs. I'm from the south shore of Québec but one summer, a friend had surprised me with a Guy Lafleur pop art painting he had made for me so when I heard that Lafleur would be coaching the Anciens Canadiens softball game in Sherbrooke that August, I couldn't resist and that piece is still one of my favourites. Furthermore, proceeds of those events go to charity so you'll even be doing a good deed!
6. Take a kid to his first hockey game
I don't even have kids and I enjoy doing this...I was lucky enough to win 4 tickets in a box to fan appreciation game last season and I decided to take my nephew (as he had said 2 weeks earlier he dreamt of going to the Bell Centre) and my parents (grandparents love seeing their grandkids experiencing new stuff and looking over the moon). I didn't regret my pick of guest, my nephew still talks about that night and I think you can tell by the picture that he was rather happy.
7. Learn about your team's prospects
That will just make it even more interesting when those players reach the NHL. Back in 2009, the Hamilton Bulldogs played in the Gardiner Cup in Scotland against the Toronto Marlies, the Belfast Giants and the Edinburgh Capitals. As I lived in London, England at the time, I took a train to Scotland with a mate and we had the pleasure of seeing some young players perform including P.K. Subban and David Desharnais. It was so obvious back then that Subban was head and shoulders above others talented! That experience really made me follow the farm team more closely and I do enjoy watching the Laval Rockets play... yes, even though they are struggling.
8. If you Collect, learn to trade and team-up
I collected hockey cards for most of my life and the arrival of trading forums online was a major game changer. It meant that even from England, I was able to get new gems for the collection and swaps unwanted stuff for things that would forever be in my personal collection. Same thing goes for autographs or memorabilia. I've met quite a few Habs fans over the years and there's one of them in Montreal with whom I'm always trading items for our respective collection. When I attended a public event where Patrick Roy was signing this weekend, I had him signed a jersey and I just knew who to trade it...I already have a Roy autographed and framed jersey so I thought it was a good opportunity to improve both of our collections.
9. Attend the VIP night at the Casino
This is an event the Habs have thrown for the last 4 years for lucky selected fans at the Montreal Casino. Free drinks, free bites, the game on a giant screen and a hockey quiz that lasts the whole game and allows you to win insane prizes...Who could say no?
10. Attend a game in a box
Yes it's expensive but it's a great experience and why do we work if not to treat ourselves from time to time? Food, drinks and private bathroom means no queue and a truly special atmosphere when you're with a group of friends... Something to think about!
What would be on your Habs fan bucket list?