100 years ago, hockey's Winningest team was born.
In Montréal,Québec, Canada, the Montreal Canadiens have always been viewed as outsiders, and have always been viewed as role model to French Canadiens. Even their nickname highlights the history of Montréal and Québec, being named "The Habs", meaning Habitants , the french settlers of the province. As a team they always seemed to serve as a winning example to the working class, who were always being stepped on. The town drew its energy from the Canadiens, year in and year out, and everyone followed Habs hockey.
The Underdog Hometown hero has always meant everything to the habs , and the one who most highlights this is Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. On entering the league, he was viewed as too injury prone to last, and just wasted money, but in time he proved them all wrong. He was the first player to score 50 Goals in 50 Games, and still worked as a machinist . He once moved his entire house in a day and scored five goals that night. Did I mention he also had moved a piano? He nevertheless was not perfect, and had quite the temper, and once was suspended for the rest of the season and post-season for knocking out a linesman. The people were enraged by this since it was unheard of to suspend a player for that long. It was considered harsh and severe, and also considered by many to be racist to french canadiens. The next home game, the league president attended, and was pelted with garbage. That night, the entirety of downtown Montréal rioted and it started what was called "The Quiet Revolution" in Québec, which marked when the French Canadiens became proud of their heritage. Maurice Richard stopped the riot by releasing a statement saying he would be back for the next season. The next five seasons the Canadiens would set the record for Stanley Cups in a row by winning all five.
In years to come they won many more times, getting to the 24 we have today. They have forty two hockey hall of famers, including some of the best players of all time, such as Guy Lafleur (another Hometown Hero, but no underdog was he), Ken Dryden (Current Canadian Politician), Bob Gainey (Current General Manager of the Habs), and many others.
Last year,the Habs surprised everyone with a #1 finish in the Eastern Conference, but ended with disappointment in the playoffs. Having rioted in the first round, i think we as a city deserved it, but this coming year, i think with our young teams that we can have some high hopes.
Going into the century mark, nothing would suit "Le Tricolore" more than a Stanley Cup victory, and that is what Bob Gainey has been planning for all along. Last year we led the league in goals scored, but we still added a great goal scorer in Alex Tanguay. We lacked a major physical force, so we added hometown boy Georges Laraque. We also have a very young team, who just gained playoff experience last season and our hungry for more. We have an invigorated Alexei Kovalev who will be looking for another great season, and a veteran Captain with maybe the most heart in the league, having overcome Cancer, and eye surgery to continue to play hockey.
All of Montréal is waiting for #25, and this year, i think its coming. Its time for the drive for 25. Tricolore juscqu'au but!