Wednesday, April 24, 2024

NHL Update/Oh, Canada

We recently vacationed in Montreal and Quebec City, and, wow, that was fun! 

One reason that my family is pretty good at traveling together is that, once it gets dark, each of the three of us pretty much just wants to get back to a clean hotel room, drink a free cup of coffee, flip on a TV, catch up on messages and explore various YouTube larks. So we typically throw something up on big room TV that we are kind of in and out on, because mostly we are all doing our own things on our laptops. It's usually a pretty happy scene.

I always make the point that it used to be such an adventure when traveling to discover what was being televised in a different market (i.e., "Hey, they're getting My Three Sons and Hazel in the afternoons in Ruston!") but that now you get pretty much the same stuff everywhere but more channels of it. By the time I'm about midway through this sermon, the women, who've heard it probably 45 times over the last 15 years, have usually found the Golden Girls marathon on whichever of those junior-varsity cable networks that roll those every night. Golden Girls is good. It's not good enough for us to binge through the series at home in the way we have great Cosby Show, Gilmore Girls, Good Place, Modern Family, currently Brooklyn Nine-Nine, etc. But it's good--and even excellent for this particular type of in-and-out-with-it application.

On this Canada trip, however, we actually did more local programming just to feel exotic and fancy. Some of it even was in French! None of us speaks French, but the daughter Duolingo-ed her way in advance of the trip to being a pretty good interpreter for my wife and me. We watched some public-broadcasting stuff on First Nations people (I knew pretty much zero about any of that), and we looked some at a Canadian sitcom, Corner Gas. We watched a little curling.

We watched a lot of hockey. My daughter has never much gotten into sports other than rollerskating, but, if she happens to go to college way up north with a bunch of other liberal girls who dig boygenius, I could see her getting into intramural hockey at some rich school with a rink in its student-rec center. She's a pretty big and strong kid, and she likes the speed and the violence. 

I was shocked to discover that the Montreal Canadiens had missed the playoffs the last couple of seasons because it still feels to me that Guy Lafleur and the garçons hoist the ol' Stanley Cup every other year or so. But the daughter deciphered enough of the French pregame April 2 to decipher that our newly beloved Habs were almost certainly soon to be eliminated from contention either that night or one of the next couple of games.

It looked bad early on that Tuesday evening as the Florida Panthers took 1-0 and then 2-1 leads at Centre Bell, about a two-kilometer walk from our Springhill Suites in Old Montreal. But then our main man from London (Ontario), Nick Suzuki, ripped the Panthers for two second-period goals, and the Canadiens never looked back, prevailing 5-3 (or 3-5 as the homies say).

Maybe the Montreal miracle was starting right here, right now! Over the next couple of days, I enjoyed consuming Wikipedia's unsurprisingly super "History of the Montreal Canadiens" page, and, on a trip uptown to see Olympic Stadium and pretend I was a sportswriter in to cover the start of the Expos' season in MLB77, I was thrilled to discover Aréna Maurice-Richard, which is where Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks and all of those other great U.S. boxers won their medals at XXI Olympic Summer Games, Montreal 1976, and one of the places where Speed Skating Canada trains their great athletes today.


Totally juiced by the whole experience, I became almost convinced that our Habs would be climbing out of the Atlantic Division cellar and into the playoffs to chase their 25th Stanley Cup championship in their 108th National Hockey League season. But by Thursday night, both the Canadians and we had ditched Montreal amid the city's biggest snowfall of the year--them down to Tampa and us up to Quebec City. The Canadiens were rocked by the Lightning, 7-4, on April 4 and eliminated from postseason contention; we, on the other hand, had a fantastic time.

So now the Stanley Cup playoffs are underway, and I'm back in the USA rooting for my usual favorites, the Washington Capitals (because they were red, white and blue on the first Topps hockey cards I bought after Innsbruck 1976), the Carolina Hurricanes (because of our happy days in the Triangle) and the Nashville Predators (because of I-24). (The Athletic says the Hurricanes have a chance!Thank you, Wikipedia, for this bracket.

I guess I'm also kind of rooting for the Toronto Maple Leafs (because of John Candy).


  1. The Habs haven't won the Stanley Cup since 1993, and haven't been to the playoffs since 2021. The Maple Leafs haven't won the Cup since 1967. The whole thing seems odd. But then again the Mets haven't won the World Series since 1986, and the Cubs have only won one pennant since 1945, so maybe it's not so odd after all.

  2. Hurricanes are now up 3-0 over the Islanders. I once took tickets at a Hurricanes home game.