Franky Bouillon was driving down the boards to the left corner at Bell Centre when the fan sitting next to me tugged at the sleeve of my Predators sweater.
“Ah mon Dieu, un but pour Gosh!”
The fan had read the play—perhaps even before Bouillon and Goc did. That is the way all 21,273 fans arrayed in bleu, blanc et rouge view, and participate in, the game in Montreal. They are boisterous and react to every move on the ice. They are very, very savvy.
And they were courteous to those few of us who wore Nashville colors. Some had sweaters with Montreal native J.P. Dumont’s number 71, many more wore nine-year Canadien Bouillon’s 51 on both Habs and Predators sweaters. At least two men sported Jordin Tootoo’s 22. Friends and family support their own. But even we garden-variety travelers from Nashville were accorded some respect after the Preds’ 3-0 win. At the final horn, the man in front of me turned to say, “Les Predators ont très bien joué ce soir.”
That was a satisfying moment in such an atmospheric hall of hockey, where Canadiens history is everywhere. Statues of Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Howie Morenz usher fans through the outside concourse, which also has monuments to players whose numbers have been retired by the team. A large square marble block has the name of every player to don the Canadiens uniform. Inside is the most astonishing display—the banners representing all 24 of the team’s Stanley Cup championships.
Bouillon turned round and waved to the applauding crowd as he was introduced as the game’s third star, then tapped his stick on the ice to salute them. On the way out, a fan informed me that Bouillon had been awarded the team’s Jean Beliveau Trophy for his community work and that he still supports youth projects in Montreal.
History is a presence at Bell Centre.