“Whatever you do, don’t go and become a Leafs fan.”
TORONTO, ON — The above quote represents everyone’s favourite piece of advice when I tell them I’m moving from Montreal – the city in which I was born and where I’ve lived on and off my whole life – to the hustle and bustle of Toronto.
Now, of course, those who really know me understand that this isn’t a concern. I bleed Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge, and have le CH tatoué sur le coeur. The idea of moving away from my beloved Habs was even one of many reasons to give me some pause before accepting the new position which will see me trade the 514 for the 416 in the coming weeks. But in the end, as a young professional looking to advance his career, I was presented with an opportunity too great to pass up on, and so I shall be relocating to the heart of Leaf country come October 1st.
For those who followed my work on my own site prior to joining the All Habs team in June, you’ll know I did my best to bring you the latest on the Habs (almost) daily. Many wondered what happened when my writing dropped off a bit this summer, and it was simply other life preoccupations that got in the way. Having completed my Master’s Degree in June, I was mired in employment search purgatory, spending my days writing cover letters, doing research, networking, and making numerous trips either way down highway 401, leaving me little free time to contribute to this site. Thankfully, there are many other team members here who have continued to provide you with regular entertaining and informative content.
Some might say I’ve not been missing much, given the locked out state of the NHL since Saturday evening. But this isn’t the case, since we’re just a day or two away from the three CHL leagues kicking off their regular seasons, while teams in Europe have already begun, meaning there are many member of the Canadiens organization in action. And just as they are returning to the ice, with this piece, I am returning to bring you regular updates of all the latest going-ons in the wide world of Habs.
I’m returning, that is, so long as I can survive life in Toronto as an expat Montrealer. Despite its incredible location and amenities, I wasn’t sure I’d actually be able to deal with living in the Residences at Maple Leafs Square – the condo building above the Air Canada Centre (have no fear, that one didn’t work out anyway.) But once you get used to seeing little blue leaves everywhere, it turns out there are a number of saving graces for Hab supporters around the city. Here’s a quick look at some “escapes” that T.O.’s growing community of Montreal originals can enjoy when they feel their red jerseys gathering a tad too much dust in Toronto closets.
Kilgour’s Bar Meets Grill
There are a number of sports bars around the city that may be more receptive to hosting Canadiens faithful, but the one most are familiar with is Kilgour’s on Bloor St W. I look forward to the next All Habs Hockey Party to be held here (once the season begins), and could see becoming a semi-regular for after-work entertainment on game nights.
Hockey Hall of Fame
Here’s an obvious one, but just minutes from the unfriendly confines of the Air Canada Centre is this hockey haven, complete with a mock Montreal Canadiens dressing room. No lockout can shut the door of this temple of hockey history, a good place to reflect on our team’s 24 Stanley Cups victories.
Riding the Toronto subway, as you pass College station, you will get a glimpse of an unexpected site. One wall has a giant mural featuring a slew of hockey players in full-on Habs gear. Hanging out at a metro stop may not sound particularly appealing, but passing by this work of art might merit getting off a stop or two early and finishing a commute on foot.
Copps Coliseum / Ricoh Coliseum – Hamilton Bulldogs
Copps Coliseum in Hamilton and the Ricoh in Toronto are home to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies respectively. The NHL lockout means a number of players who might otherwise have spent this season in the big league will be getting action in the A, which makes attending games in the short term even more attractive than it would have otherwise been. Hamilton’s roster this season includes a number of top flight Canadiens prospects, including Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, and Brendan Gallagher, and particularly once players like Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson return to the NHL where they belong, the ‘Dogs should be highly competitive. The first game in Hamilton this season is on October 19th, and the Bulldogs play 6 regular season games in Toronto. I’ll be sure to make as many trips to watch them play as I can, and will have coverage for all readers/followers out there.
The Man Cave
While the above locations may all appeal to Hab fans, given that they’re public venues, nothing stops them from being overwhelmed by loudmouth Leaf backers. When reminding them how long ago 1967 was just won’t do it for you, the best solution is to create a Habs refuge in your own home. And while my one bedroom apartment won’t be entirely decked out in Canadiens’ colours, I certainly plan to bring some decor that will let anyone who enters know where my allegiances lie. In fact, I picked up a perfect laminated poster which once adorned a wall at the then-Molson Centre at the final Habs’ Used Equipment Sale of the past season, pictured at right.
Chime in, Hab fans. As I return to the never-ending grind of bringing you the latest on your team, I have a request of you as well. Those of you who live in the Greater Toronto Area, what are your favourite “Hab hangouts”? How/where do you watch games? What’s the best way to get RDS? Any other advice before I make the big move in the coming weeks? Please feel free to share your own experiences living behind enemy lines.
Category: Fan Focus