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Rogers, HNIC and Guy Lapointe

Guy Lapointe (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Guy Lapointe (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

When it comes to Canada and hockey there is no end to the possible cliches. But cliches usually become cliche because they are true. It cannot be denied; we Canadians love our hockey. Therefore successfully televising NHL hockey should be about as difficult as selling bottled water in the desert. Yet the new rights-holder to all things NHL, Rogers Communications, continues to find ways to make things difficult. Oddly my new hockey-watching experience brings to mind Carole King’s classic lyrics:

It used to be so easy
Livin’ here with you.
You were light and breezy
And I knew just what to do.

I have posted before about the need for a decoder ring and maps to figure out what channel your team’s game is on. Once located the big question is whether or not you actually get that channel.

Unlike many people, I don’t have anything against P.J. Stock, but when a legendary member of the Montreal Canadiens is being honoured, I’d rather watch the hoopla than P.J.

The airing of the Montreal Canadiens tribute to a former player on Saturday night was a fine example of how Rogers has complicated things. Guy Lapointe’s number 5 was to be retired in a pregame ceremony. The Canadiens do this sort of thing as well or better than any other sports organization. During the preceding week it was mentioned several times in various media that the ceremony would commence at 6:30 PM and that although the actual game was scheduled to be broadcast on Montreal’s CITY-TV, the main “homeroom”  Hockey Night in Canada program on CBC would carry the ceremony nationwide, then broadcast the Toronto Maple Leafs game.

So there I was plunked down in front of the telly at 6:27 PM,  chores done, cold beer in hand, ready to be transported back to the glory days of the Habs as they were recounted during the retirement proceedings. On came the HNIC program featuring new host George Stroumboulopoulos and an army of analysts and commentators: but no Guy Lapointe. After a few items of general hockey interest Strombo informed the viewers that the Lapointe number retirement was now being broadcast on something called SportsNet360, and that the main network would join things just in time to see the raising of the banner.

SN360

Now I had to find where  SportsNet360 was; having done so I, not surprisingly, also found out that I don’t get that channel. Since Rogers took over I have been forced to rejig my cable subscription twice to find Canadiens games, I was getting tired of doing so. I don’t know what the hell F/X is, nor why my Canadiens games are on it. I tried CITY-TV where they would eventually air the game, but no dice, they also had the main Toronto feed of George and his panels. Unlike many people, I don’t have anything against P.J. Stock, but when a legendary member of the Montreal Canadiens is being honoured, I’d rather watch the hoopla than P.J.

True to their word – at least their second word – HNIC switched to the BELL Centre just in time to see the raising of the banner and hear Lapointe’s speech. Once done, the broadcast schedule was picked up and various games were to be found on the array channels. Except CITY-TV Montreal where the entire ceremony was now being rebroadcast!

Ironically if there is an upside to this confusing new world of hockey broadcasting it’s that with so many games on offer, the average fan, armed with a remote control may never have to watch another commercial.

Evidently the NHL itself contributed to the confusion. They used to hold these ceremonies after the pregame warm-up, and before the puck drop. Depending on the length of the ceremony, players may have sat for almost an hour since warming up. Now the ceremony and warm up have been flipped. Retirement fun followed by pregame warm up, ice resurfacing, national anthems and bingo! the game. But it looks like they forgot to tell Rogers.

Ironically if there is an upside to this confusing new world of hockey broadcasting it’s that with so many games on offer, the average fan, armed with a remote control may never have to watch another commercial.

 

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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The Boston Hockey Fan’s Montreal Map:Irish Pubs, Strip Bars and a Basilica

None of the Canadiens had played at (12:30) since Pee-Wee, and those games comprise three 15-minute periods. No wonder the Habs stopped playing after 45 minutes!

Welcome to Montreal Boston hockey fans! So the 34th Bruins/Habs playoff series is all tied up at one game apiece after that sneaky 12:30 start for game two. None of the Canadiens had played at that time since Pee-Wee, and those games comprise three 15-minute periods. No wonder the Habs stopped playing after 45 minutes!  Now you’ve decided to make a mid-week trek north to watch games 3 and 4. There are millions of tourist maps available online and at various locations in the city, but I’ve provided one below that cuts to the chase and includes the essentials for a Boston hockey fan in Montreal: the BELL Centre, Strip Bars, Irish pubs, and a basilica!

In blue is the BELL Centre where the games take place. If you are feeling nostalgic you can venture west to the old Montreal Forum which now houses retail outlets and a cinema or two. But remember we still haven’t found those Forum Ghosts from when the team moved, but we’re pretty sure one or two have hung back at the Forum – think of it as a Ghost Trap Play – as I’m told there are several Leafs’ fans who popped in and then, like a Toronto Stanley Cup parade,  were never been seen again!

In green I’ve pointed-out several Irish Pubs. Montreal has a slew of bars and pubs, many of them Anglo/Irish in theme. The four I have indicated on the map – Hurley’s, 1225 Crescent Street,  McKibbon’s, 1426  Bishop Street, the Old Dublin, 636 Cathcart Street, and the Irish Embassy, 1234 Bishop Street –   are just the ones I’m most familiar with.

The same goes for Montreal’s strip bars; they are all over the place, on main streets and side streets. The two I have selected are Wanda’s, 1458 Mountain St and Chez Paree, 1258 Rue Stanley which is an NHL players favorite!

Should you feel the need to cleanse your soul, St. Patrick’s Basilica, 454 René Lévesque Blvd. West, is the mother church to Montreal’s Irish Catholics.

MontrealMap

Enjoy your stay, and may the Canadiens best team win!

Me DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Boston vs Montreal: Playoff Rivalry Take 34

BosMtl

Old and new in Boston

Any day now, after what seems like a decade-long break, the Montreal Canadiens will begin the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. The long period of downtime was the result of a four-game sweep of their first round opponents, the Tampa Bay Lightning. All teams like a bit of a rest during the hectic day-on-day-off playoff schedule, but it will be almost two weeks between games for the Habs. I hope they don’t lose their edge.

Their next opponent will be the Boston Bruins, a team they have met in the post season a league-leading 33 times, winning 24 of those series. To say a rivalry exists between the two clubs is an understatement. Rivalries used to be a big deal in the NHL when there were just six teams, but the league expanded over the years and teams now see less of each other, so it takes longer to foster a good inter-city rivalry.

Montreal has two languages, however if you spend enough time with native Bostonians you’ll start to wonder if they don’t also have a language of their own!

Looking back over the years Montreal’s main rivals have been the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and, for an all too short period of time, the Quebec Nordiques. The last one, was the shortest, ending with the Nord’s move to Colorado. Based in Quebec City the club arrived with a built-in rivalry given the Province’s linguistic and political make-up. Just check the infamous Good Friday 1984 game to get a taste of the hate that existed between these two teams.

Montreal fans are limited to one real rivalry now. The Maple Leafs are still in Toronto, but haven’t figured in any real sense for a number of years. A visit by the Leafs to Montreal just isn’t what it used to be. Maybe a playoff series would rekindle things, but that will have to wait as the Leafs didn’t qualify for the post season this year. So we are left with Montreal vs Boston.

Aside from both being original six teams, I believe the rivalry has much to do with the cities being similar. One often hears that some siblings don’t get along well because they are too much alike, I think some of that may hold true for Montreal and Boston.

Whatever the outcome, I look forward to my next sunny afternoon in the Boston Common, either gloating in my Habs jersey or basking in my Red Sox shirt. C’mon, you didn’t really think I could wear a Bruins shirt did you?

Montreal has the edge in population, but not by too much. Both cities comprise an element of college town; Montreal has four universities, two English and two French while Boston is chock-a-block with students. Both cities have large Catholic populations, are steeped in history and are working class. Montreal has two languages, however if you spend enough time with native Bostonians you’ll start to wonder if they don’t also have a language of their own! Perhaps most importantly both cities are comfortable in their skins; neither is trying to be something it isn’t, as is the case with the Habs’ other rival. If you have to keep telling people you’re a world-class city, you probably aren’t!

Old and new in Montreal

Old and new in Montreal

I like Boston very much, the rich history, the pace of things and an ability to have fun are all familiar to me as a Montrealer. Our cities do a great job of maintaining the old while at the same time developing modern urban centers. To gain entry to many of Montreal’s skyscrapers you pass through a century-old portico that has been retained and worked into the new edifice. In Boston you can have a pub lunch smack in the middle of downtown, but also immediately across the street from a centuries-old cemetery that is the final resting ground of many historical figures including John Hancock and brewery owner/politician Samuel Adams. (As the saying goes, it’s the only place where you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams!)

So let the series begin, and may the Canadiens best team win. Whatever the outcome, I look forward to my next sunny afternoon in the Boston Common, either gloating in my Habs jersey or basking in my Red Sox shirt. C’mon, you didn’t really think I could wear a Bruins shirt did you?

 

 

Me DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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