Friday, April 03, 2009

Canadiens Wrap Up Their "100th Season" Celebrations

Last night, while the Canadiens players put on a show against a team of NHL novices to a subdued crowd of what might as well have been a few hundred given the excitement; the Canadiens organisation and extended family were busy filling the Bell Centre with the customary roar of applause.

By all accounts, the celebration was great and on a great scale. This blogger expresses his amazement at the sight of so many Habs greats, the thrill of mingling with politicians and mentions how the orchestra played hockey music where they could (such as the HNIC theme, among other tunes).

The Gazette covered the story in its entertainment section, but all proof of its existence on the sports pages or their satellites seems to be missing. It nevertheless gave the impression that this was the show to watch if you wanted to be entertained from 7:30 pm last night:
But again the proof was in the performance, galloping and remarkably clear. Nagano, looking animated, got much more than sheer sound out of the 1,500 singers. As for the solo quartet: two minutes for sounding so good.

The night sounded like an out-and-out success. Certainly from an entertainment and musical standpoint. The night also served as the launch for the MSO foundation, which it self was a smashing success to rival a 5-1 playoff-solidifying romp, as a whopping $2 million was raised!

At the beginning of the year, I remember writing that this would be one of the absolute highlights of the Canadiens celebratory calendar. I remember others saying as much. But I sit here feeling like the only one to remember the big party even happened.
April 2009
2. Montreal Symphony Orchestra Concert at the Bell Centre
Opening of the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame

Never mind that "Canadiens Hall of Fame" comes up with virtually no relevant results despite the fact it was meant to open this week. I did manage to find (with some trouble) that it does exist.

Considering all the fanfare that surrounded the initial announcements and the early events like the Builders' night, this decline is surprising. It's clear the ADD media gang moved on long, long ago on this one; but have the Canadiens moved on too? If so, does anyone think they're regretting starting their 100th season celebrations in their 99th season of play? Will anyone be able to muster any excitement by the time the 100th anniversary rolls around 4 years after that first press release?

Have the Canadiens soured on the whole thing at this point?

As I was saying, it seems to me that we are hearing less and less about 100 seasons these past few weeks than we had been for the preceding few hundred weeks (the first press release was 3 1/2 years ago). The players have other things on their minds, as do the coaches and GM (/coach). One has to think the fact the owner and his administrative support also have other things on their minds just now as well.

If the MSO concert had taken place in October with the parade of Cup winners who turned up, this event would surely have made the front page of the Gazette. Probably even the sports pages, and Habs Inside/Out would not have overlooked it altogether.

Even the whole shirt thing has been played down more recently than say in December. Tobalev was right to point out that the Canadiens wore a different shirt than the one they were slated to wear.

According to RDS:
"Le Canadien devait porter son uniforme dit de "barbier" de la saison 1912-1913. Bob Gainey a estimé que ce costume n'était pas approprié pour un match aussi important. Il s'est tourné vers l'uniforme plus sobre de la saison 1915-1916."

Don't blame the barber shirt

While we're all a bit fatigued by the centennial celebrations, I imagine. One can't really take it all out on the barber shirt can they? I mean, we saw it for all of 3 hours (except for that guy in the low bowl of the Bell Centre every game...). Even it's record isn't dismal enough to be blamed for the slide:

1970-71: 2-0-0, 8 GF, 4 GA
1945-46: 0-2-0, 2 GF, 5 GA
1915-16: 2-1-0, 12 GF, 8 GA
1912-13: 0-1-0, 1 GF, 3 GA

If you remember, that game was a tight 3-1 affair against the Bruins. We lost, but it also happened to be our best game over the span of a month. You could be forgiven for blaming the 45-46 vintage, which certainly didn't help anyone emulate the Punch line.

If you want something to blame, blame the whites that seem to bring the road play home:

White sweaters (Present day, 1970-71, 1945-46): 18-21-3
Red sweaters (Present day, 1915-16): 22-5-7

Alas, I'm sure Bob Gainey would put an end to the white sweaters and, more importantly, the road games if he could. Instead, he seems to have taken a look and don't what he could by putting a lid on the celebrations for the rest of the season, not just the fancy dress show. He seems to have realised that this team exists for the fans that watched a certain game in Long Island and not really those who went to meet Damphousse and Quintal after they trotted out to the strings of Beethoven.

Perhaps he was tired of giving the visitors one more reason to want to spoil the party. Or, maybe he realised that like the team did over this hockey season, this 100th season needs a rest, a talking too and a reboot before the big push:
2009-2010 SEASON

October, November, December 2009
Centennial Jersey Nights (1910 – 1911, 1909 – 1910)

December 2009
Public launch of the Canadiens motion picture « Pour toujours, les Canadiens ! »

4. Centennial game at the Bell Centre
5. Centennial Gala

I appreciate the pageantry when I see it, but I certainly don't mind waiting if Gainey thinks that might mean some more games against Boston or Washington...

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