Canadiens fans aren’t like other fans

This article can be found published on Chicks Who Give a Puck and featured on All Habs.
Montreal Canadiens legends located in front of the Bell Centre. (Candice Monhollan)

Montreal Canadiens legends located in front of the Bell Centre. (Candice Monhollan)

Like the television commercials from a year ago said, hockey fans are unlike other fans. They have blind faith in their teams. This is their year to win the coveted Lord Stanley’s Cup, no matter how bleak the outcome may look. It’s always good versus evil, David versus Goliath, where their home teams are always the champions.

In my experiences as a Philadelphia Flyers fan, I have seen the way fans act to each other. I know how Flyers fans are. I know how we are perceived by the rest of the league as some of the roughest and nastiest around. To us, our team is the best in the league, hands down, and we won’t let anyone else tell us otherwise.

I have gone to a few away games and I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of all the hate from the home fans.

I went to school in Boston, Mass. during the 2008-09 season, and while I was there, I made sure to attend the two games when the Flyers came to town. It was during the second game when I really got the feel of what it was like. Once the Flyers took the lead is when several of the Bruins fans began to zone in on me. They were threatening to throw me down the stairs or make sure I get a nice black eye before I left.

Even in a recent trip to Lawrence, Mass. a month ago, I still received dagger eyes from Massachusetts residents while I walked around in my Michael Leighton shirt. There were a lot of murmurs as I passed and I caught a bit of, “How dare she” and “%$@^*& Flyers fans.” Needless to say, it wasn’t a friendly atmosphere for me.

This past weekend, my two best friends and I took a trip to Montréal for our vacation. Since it had just been a mere three months since the Flyers knocked the Montréal Canadiens out of the playoffs in the third round, I expected about the same treatment from them.

As the Flyers fan that I am, I made sure to pack at least one name and number T-shirt for when we visited the Canadiens Hall of Fame and toured the Bell Centre. Some of you may feel that is sacrilegious, but tell me, what would you wear? Seeing as though I own nothing Canadiens, I thought it would be fitting to wear a hockey shirt to a hockey arena.

The inside of the Montreal Canadiens locker room. (Candice Monhollan)

The inside of the Montreal Canadiens locker room. (Candice Monhollan)

As such, one of my best friends was extremely nervous about all three of us walking the streets of Montréal wearing Flyers shirts. She has seen the videos of the fans taking to the streets after a win and the path of destruction they left. I told her to relax. What more could they do to us other than verbal attacks?

As I headed down the elevator in my hotel, I passed a couple. The man looked at me and I heard him mumble as he walked by, “She’s wearing Flyers stuff here? Not very smart.”

I disregarded the remark and as we headed to the Bell Centre, we did receive a lot of attention, but not the way that the three of us thought it would be.

We received the occasional boos from passersby, but we didn’t really get the comments until we reached the arena.

As we walked around the outside of the building, a Habs fan looked at our shirts and shook his head.

“You’re wearing those shirts on this sacred ground?” He smiled at us as he kept walking by.

At the beginning of the Bell Centre tour, the guide had us sit down in a section to tell us a little of the history of the arena and the different price ranges. He started off by asking how many of us were Habs fans. Maybe three or four people raised their hands.

“I see we have some Flyers fans,” the guide said. “You are not welcome here.”

But the guide had a grin on his face. He ended up talking hockey with the three of us more than anyone else in the group during the rest of the tour.

It was the same way the rest of the day throughout the city. People walked by with comments like, “I really hate you guys” or “You know, I usually hate the Bruins and [Toronto Maple] Leafs, but you guys beat them out.”

But it always ended the same way. The person was still kind about it and would end up standing there talking hockey with me, whether it was about the Canadiens, Flyers or just the NHL in general.

There were no hard feelings from anyone I met during my five days there. A few even congratulated us for making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Their love of the game allowed them to be so open and friendly with fans from other teams. There were times while I walked the city that I saw multiple teams represented by people, including the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and New York Islanders.

Candice Monhollan posing by a replica of one of her all-time favorite goaltenders. (Heather Morton)

Candice Monhollan posing by a replica of one of her all-time favorite goaltenders. (Heather Morton)

The only bad part during the whole trip would be Patrick Kane haunting me the entire time. We went out Saturday night and I ran into two Kane look-a-likes at the same place. One looked like a 28-year-old version, but the other looked like the 19-year-old Kane with the curly blonde hair and all. I mean, he looked I-DEN-TI-CAL to him. I had to do a double-take to make sure it wasn’t the real him.

Not to mention I found out that as we were flying to Toronto for our connecting flight Friday, we passed over Niagara Falls the same time Kane was there with the Stanley Cup. That would explain the silver glint I saw out the plane window.

But I digress. Besides the terrible reminders of the Blackhawks throughout the trip, it was otherwise an eye-opener into what kind of people Montréal Canadiens fans are.

All the videos from the postseason celebrations gave Canadiens fans such negative publicity. Just because a group of people take things overboard is no reason to judge an entire fanbase. Believe me, I know how it feels to be misjudged as fans. For those of you who do not agree, take a trip to Montréal wearing your team colors and then feel free to write me back on how they treated you. I can guarantee you, it will be just about the same experience I had.

I, for one, would never pass on another opportunity to visit such a beautiful city and some of the best fans in the NHL.

Despite the Flyers knocking out their beloved team for the second time in three years, they were more than welcoming to the enemy. It is a lesson that should be learned throughout the NHL fanbases. No matter how much you may despise another team, we all do share one common thing: our love for the great game of hockey.

I wish to extend my most sincere gratitude to the people of Montréal for being the classiest fans I have ever had the pleasure of being around.

Montréal, je vous remercie de tout cœur.


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Categories: Editorial, Ice Hockey, NHL, Sports

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