A condensed version of this letter appears in today’s Ottawa Citizen
Dear Ottawa Senators Fans,
Let me begin by congratulating you on your team’s advancement to the playoffs. It was a hard fought battle right to the end, and you can certainly be proud of the way your guys turned it on down the stretch. I have a hunch that even while you were concerned about the Senators’ future, like many Montreal fans you took some joy in the pitiful season turned in by the Toronto Maple Leafs. But now those snide small victories take a back seat to the ‘second season’.
While ours won’t exactly be a ‘subway series’, our cities are close enough to allow fans to make the trip to the opposition’s building. With this in mind let me provide you with some tips on how to enjoy Montreal as a fan of the visitors.
Our police are currently – and frankly they seem to always be – on the outs with the city. As an essential service, they can’t actually go on strike so they show their disgruntlement by refusing to wear the official police uniform. So those men and women you may see wearing baseball caps, bulletproof vests and camouflage pants are in fact really police, not thugs. Bear in mind that the only thing Montreal police like more than (insert doughnut joke here) is to pull over an Ontario-plated car that has just gone right on red and present the driver with a fat ticket. Can you imagine the problems should that vehicle happen to have a Senators’ flag flapping? The islands of Manhattan and Montreal are the only two places in North America where turning right on red is not allowed. Believe me, getting Montreal drivers to not go straight on red is tough enough.
Please enjoy your stay by partaking of my city’s countless bars and restaurants. But pace yourself. Keep in mind that closing time is 3:00 a.m.; they often say you can tell tourists in Montreal because they’re drunk at 7:00 p.m. Remember you can buy beer and wine at corner stores without having to go to a special outlet as though you were having a prescription filled.
While attending the games at the BELL Centre many of you, particularly those with a background in engineering or architecture, will notice a significant difference in the rafters way up high in the building. While other cities leave them exposed, we prefer to cover them with Stanley Cup banners. Save your time, don’t count, there are twenty-four. (I understand a previous incarnation of your team won several Cups, but we both know that was then, and this is now …)
The Sens have sure had the Habs’ number this season, winning three out of four games. But the playoffs are a new start. Perhaps you have heard about the storied Forum Ghosts who allegedly helped out on a few occasions when the team needed it. A bounce here, an extra Bruin on the ice there. Some would have you believe the ghosts never made the trip from the Forum to the team’s new home, as evidenced by the lack of Stanley Cups. This year we lost three Montreal Canadiens greats, including Jean Beliveau and Elmer Lach. Could there now be some BELL Centre ghosts to take up the flame?
Enjoy your stay and may the
Canadiens better team win.