Sunday, October 21, 2007

Habs Fans Summit A Rousing Success

The Canadiens didn't need the 4 - 2 win over Buffalo tonight in order to make the Habs Fans Summit a rousing success - however, it was the proverbial icing on the cake.

Damn, did we all have a good time!

Super sized kudos to Jason Weiss (Jay in PA) for spearheading an evening that will long be remembered by all of those who took part in the days activities. I'm sure that I speak for everyone in saying that this man is a class act for endeavoring to take on the task of coordinating much of what went on.

Jay, who lives in Pittsburgh, had lots of long distance help from J.T., Naila, Jim M, Sami, Kullkullan and Manapart in setting things up from ticket orders to the final gathering at Hurley's Pub. I hope that my documenting of the day does their hard work justice.

I personally had a blast meeting up with everyone. It is 4 AM after the game, as I begin to post this, having just arrived home and editing roughly 70 photographs taken during the day.
Remembering the names of everyone (after meeting close to 40 of you) gets a little hazy.
Posting this entry will have taken up my entire Sunday by the time it is finished.

I try not post long thoughts and ramblings at Habs Inside Out for the most part, I tend to merely weigh in on the subject at hand and offer my larger thoughts through a link for those curious enough to enjoy. I was extremely flattered and taken aback by the number of people who shook my hand this evening and complimented me on this site.

It was so gratifying for me to associate faces with names and see in person those for whom I write for. A simple thank you cannot estimate the warmth each of you have given me with your kind words.

Throughout the day and the evening, I felt friendships and kinships being born, and I will truly miss a bunch of you until we do this all again.

The icing on my cake was rubbing elbows with Dave Stubbs, Mike Boone, Kevin Mio and Pat Hickey. To hear Mr. Stubbs laud my site to me, is a moment I would love to freeze in time. Habs Inside Out is Dave's baby, and it warmed me to see him looking at the gathering so proudly. The evening was his community coming to fruition. Dave's creation and hard work resulted in an evening such as this, and it is a credit to the man's imagination and positiveness of spirit that he jumped on the idea of a Habs Fans Summit within hours of it being suggested. Thanks so much for running with it, Mr. Stubbs!

We all owe Mr. Stubbs a great debt of gratitude for getting behind what I am certain will grow to become a regular annual event amongst Habs die hards. Our appreciation should also extend to the Montreal Gazette itself, who sprung for some nifty red t-shirts and placcards noting the event for all 48 participants.

During the game, the paper's photographer stood over us on the press gallery and encouraged us to salute. I think this was where we were supposed to display our placcard salutations, but I'm guessing we were so deep into the third period drama, that we all missed our cue. We'll get it right next time!

As good as the game was, the company surrounding us all made the day's events even better. I tremendously enjoyed sharing thoughts and exchanges with everyone I met, talking about the Habs today and yesteryear.

It's so great to be proud of our team! As you can tell, it extends to us being proud of ourserlves as fans.

The afternoon began with a tour of the inner works of the Bell Centre. In no particular order, we got to visit the press gallery hung high above the ice, the oldtimers room, the media room, historic displays involving Habs Hall of Famers, and lots and lots of Canadiens memorabilia on the walls everywhere you looked. For six dollars, the tour is a bargain. Unfortunately, we didn't quite make it all the way into the players dressing room. Of course, that would have been ecstasy.

At 3:45 the group gathered for a photo on the east side of the Bell Centre. The Gazette photographer took dozens of shots trying to get us all to stay in pose after placing everyone. It got funny when passersby in behind the group were interfering with the shoot, unbeknowst to them. We needed to get Stubbs, Mio and Boone to play traffic cop just to get the final shots done.
Patrice Brisebois was one of those was passed by, signing for fans along the way. I thought it pretty cool of him to walk into the Bell right off the street and it surely speaks of how he feels being back in Montreal.

I wonder if Ian Cobb's knees have recovered from the praying position he assumed for a good 20 minutes during the shoot.

Before and after game meet and greets at Baton Rouge and Hurley's Pogo room were one of the more special parts of the day. You gotta love 3 A.M. last calls! Next time, I'll wisen up and rent a room in the downtown area, as to not have to make midnight my personal last call.

I hope I do not forget anyone in naming those who helped make my day an unforgettable experience.

Nowhere better to start than with my fellow blogger and good friend E, from the Theory Of Ice site. I have had the privelege to chat with E for two or three times a week for the past three months, and it has been a treat. Getting to finally meet her, never mind enjoying a meal and a gameside seat next to her, was a fullfilling experience. That alone, made my day!

You want to talk about an intelligent and perceptive young lady. This girl might be new to the game of hockey, but you'd never know it from her astute study of everything that happens on the ice. Be jealous all of you who did not get to enjoy her charming company, E, you see, is not one to seek attention very much. It's been an eternity since a young woman made me truly wish I was 20 years younger. As pretty and magnetic as I found her, I did get my heart broken. We lost each other on the escalators and stairways of the Bell Centre on our way out. I feel as though i have something to make up for!

No one seemed happier to be a part of the Summit than Ian Cobb. I quickly got the notion that Ian grins and laughs in his sleep. He had a bunch of great tales to tell and I wish he could be one of the elders that I enjoy coffee with each morning. My friend, you are one of the reasons I hope that this Summit occurs again.

Lee Hayes came further than anyone to be a part of this - all the way from British Columbia! If anyone in this party was a bigger Habs fan than Lee, I'd dare you to prove it. Lee was as instantly likeable as anyone I've ever met, and he greeted everyone as long lost friends. He sat a row below me during the game and I watched him enjoy this win as much as any fan can. He was one of many gentleman I met tonight that made me wish that the whole day could last forever. Should the Habs meet the Canucks in the Stanley Cup final, Lee's home will be a haven for inflatable mattresses. It was a priveledge to meet you, Lee.

DD, who lives in the Ottawa area, was the fan who best epitomized the Habs spirit. I tell you, if DD had any more cheer he would be Santa Claus. I think DD went out of his way to meet and great everyone, sharing words and stories that put smiles on everyone's faces. He and Lee took in the Senators and Habs game on Thursday, and showed up for this one wearing those hilariously mocking anti Leafs duds. DD lives within an hour of me and I'm smiling as a type this, just knowing that we will soon meet again.

Grabbed The Cup (GTC), whose real name is Herb, has a great memory for Habs history. Through supper at Baton Rouge, and then later at Hurley's, we expounded on a variety of subjects. Thinking about him, makes me realize how short the evening actually was. This man is someone with whom I could discuss the Habs with, day in and day out, and never tire of conversation subjects. His compliments to me, regarding this site, are words that will remain with me for a long time. If I were a TV producer, casting a between periods segment with a Habs fan, Herb's animated and passionate thoughts would qualify him as the ideal guest. I believe Herb and I will cross paths again - and I can't wait!

Everyone at Habs Inside Out has read Yeats' charisma filled comments. Witty and quick, with a seductive accent to boot, this man is a conversation that should never end. When we shook hands and introduced ourselves at the ticket booth, I had the instant incling of who he was even before he pronounced his name. On hockey matters, I must say that the man thinks an awful lot like me on the Habs current state of affairs. Yeats and and I started a conversation that should one day finish with us both agreeing on what were the key moves that enabled the Canadiens to win their 25th Stanley Cup.

I got to meet J.T. (Leigh Anne) and her husband after the game and complemented her on successfully answering my Habs 100 trivia question contest. After she told us that her initials actually stood for Jose Theodore, we all had a good laugh thinking about our former beloved number one goalie, and how quickly time flies.

Alex Leduc wore a commemorative Maurice Richard jersey #9 to the game and we wanted to set up a picture featuring his sweater and my postcard. I apologize for it not happening. Blame it on the evening being a whirlwind of activity.

Dan and his young son Omar didn't take in the game at the Bell but joined the crew for the Gazette photo shoot and pre-game meal. One very sweet moment was when Dave Stubbs sat Omar aside and went through a Habs magazine with him, surely offering some historical pointers.

Chuck from Toronto with his retro Mark Hunter jersey received many compliments and thumbs up on his choice of apparel for the evening. He even had one fan offer his big bucks for it.

The beautiful Naila was the events official photographer for the day and helped to set up the Bell center tour to start the good time off. I can't wait to see her photos posted.

Plek-Andrew and three friends painted themselves up from faces to navels and deserved their own RDS moment on the big screen.

Nightmare 49 showed up at Hurley's and weighed in on the future of the Habs with Yeats, myself and a few others. Hearing Yeats liken the Habs method of cycling the puck to masturbation was to almost die of laughter. I'll say it again, the man deserves his own blog!

Lastly, and most definately not least, I must thank my great friend and good buddy Shawn Lauzon. Shawn has been urging me to go see a Habs game for the entire summer and when the opportunity arose to get in on the Habs Fans Summit it was a chance neither of us could miss out on. It has been about 7 years since Shawn and I took in a 3 - 0 win over the Islanders, a day marked more in our memories by a blown engine on the Dicaire Expressway than the game itself. This awesome time we shared will be done again, and hopefully it does not take another seven years. Thanks, my friend!

There were at least two dozen fans that I did not get to spend any time with. While many of you may be featured in pictures shown here, I apologize for not making the rounds as much as I would have liked to. Time simply didn't allow for us all to get together and chat. This is but one more reason for us all to do this again sooner than later.

Two aquaintances who didn't make the trip were Matt Macaskill and Peter Young. I was looking forward to meeting both and I'm hoping that when this is done again you boys get to take it all in.

The shot at the top of this post happened at around 6 PM on Saturday night. I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked out onto the Baton's patio for a smoke and saw a rainbow ending at the Bell - talk about your positive signs!

Enjoy the pictures, folks, and thank you all again for a memorable event.

In chronological order, these were the moments I captured on the first annual Habs Inside Out Habs Fans Summit.

Starting with the tour of the Bell Centre.

There's not a better place to start for me than with Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde, the Habs first star, born in my hometown of Cornwall, Ontario. Newsy's great, great, grand daughter was a summer waitress at my favorite coffee shop, the Fifth Wheel.

A tribute to the Canadiens Hall Of Famers.

Is there a Montreal Canadien who better exemplifies all the qualifies of being a Habs leader better than Jean Beliveau?

A longstanding Habs fan looking perfect in a retro jersey. Ian Cobb fits it to a T. I wouldn't be surprised if younger fans walked up to him, mistaking him for a Habs legend, and asked for an autograph.

DD and Lee epitomizing the spirit.

A view from the press gallery.

Naila, after I took a picture of her, taking a picture of me. That's Chantal, our tour guide, in the Komisarek jersey.

A job at this level would make my life!

To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be it yours to burn the Leafs!

This fan whose name escapes me ( I believe it was Dan, correct me if I am wrong), told me a great story when looking at this picture that includes Aurel Joliat. below. He recounted that he was once working in the apartment moving business, when he read the name Aurel Joliat on his list of the day`s clients. Upon meeting the Habs legend, he quite rightly got involved in discussing Habs heritage, before Joliat`s wife came along, berating for wasting time. That story is just too funny and deserves it's own blog posting. Please share all that you can remember of that day, my friend.

A legendary shot from the Habs alumni room.

Plek-Andrew and Ian share a tale.

Me, in front of an incredulous backdrop I never imagined myself in front of. This, as you will see, was something everyone wanted to get in on.

Two opposing logo's - too funny!

Ian Cobb raises the Stanley Cup, in his imagination!

Plek-Andrew had everyone in stitches when he sat behind the mic and gave his impression of a mock Habs after loss interview. "Ecoute, on a pas jouez soixante minutes...." You had to be there, it was priceless!

Of course Ian could not resist the chance to have his picture taken with the charming Naila. Can't say I blame the man!

Plek-Andrew and his pals cover the couch in the Habs wives and guests room. Does this boy know how to take full advantage of a photo op or what?

Just outside the Canadiens dressing room lies this inspirational wall. Naila not included!

Moving onto mealtime at Baton Rouge. I ordered Atlantic Salmon with veggies, and was greeted with a two fisted sized broccoli that will never allow me to see the sprout in the same light ever again! Hope your meal was more fulfilling. But, hey, the company was awesome.

Here are some shots from the game, interspersed with pics of various HIO folks and Habs fans from the game.

Moving on to Hurley's Pogo room for the after game celebration.

It was a fun time chatting with Mike Boone and Pat Hickey. Red Fisher, my idol, where are you?

J.T. is surely a fan who can go one on one with Boone. Wish I could have been privy to the Brisebois conversation!

Dee Dee and Vicky were kind enough to let me take a photo. I'll let you answer why these ladies stand out in a crowd.

I should almost apologize for taking as many pictures of Naila as possible - but I won't!

And that's all the alcohol this blogger could consume before heading off. I will miss you all until we meet again.


habnut said...

Robert, thanks for the summary of the Fan Summit. I complimented you a few months back on this blog and your writing style, my opinions have matured into deep admiration.

I have been a Habs fan ever since The Rocket rescued me from a crush of adoring fans in 1954(?) in Val d'Or, Quebec. In the interim 53 years, my life had been touched by recurring incidences with the Habs and their ex- and present players. I regret that I was coming back from another long trip during the "Summit" and could not make it, but there's always next year.

Keep up the great work and be assured that there is at least one reader who enjoys your offerings.

Hmmm....Mensa, eh??!!

Dave Stubbs said...

Robert, thanks for your kind words and your wonderful synopsis of a very special event that surpassed my wildest expectations.

I'd like to spread around the credit for Habs Inside/Out: Kevin Mio, Mike Boone, Pat Hickey, Sid Banarjee (who's gone on to work for Canadian Press), the Gazette's photographers and photo technicians, and developers John MacFarlane and Dru Oja Jay all play important roles in the site.

Keep up the tremendous work on your blog here, Robert. I'm an avid reader, and I look forward to watching you keep the Canadiens fires burning.

Dave Stubbs

Robert L said...

I had to look up Mensa to make sure I didn't spell it with a Z!

Robert L said...

Thanks for your kind words, once again Dave. I guess I am blessed with quality readers who can be a very motivating source at times. This weekend put me in touch with that notion. Never did I ever dream I would be amongst such a great group of fans. I am going to have to work even harder to keep this site running!

Naila J. said...

I didn't mind a bit about all the pictures!

I'm glad you got some shots from the game and the dinner, I needed to put the camera down so I could actually enjoy myself ;)

And that guy's name is Alex, not Dan, but I'm not one to talk... I can't even remember your name!

GTC said...

Thanks for the story Robert, it went great with my morning coffee. Thank you also for the kind words, praise for my hockey memory coming from you is high praise indeed. We'll have to put on a mini summit of our own in the not too distant future. DD and I have already discussed getting together for a game; Be it here, in Ottawa, or at a bar with a big screen somewhere in between, it must be done!

sy said...

hey guys, man i can't believe I missed it!. good to see everyone had such a good time. CAn you put names besides some of the faces for those of us who missed it?

RetroMikey said...

Robert L,
Glad you had a great time in Montreal. Unfortunately, I had a family wedding I attended and would have loved to attend the event and meet you. I have always enjoyed reading your blog and would have loved to share some Habs' stories with you as well. Hope you come to Hamilton, Ontario ond day to see the "Dawgs" play and would share a pint of ale or shot of JD with you my friend!

lainlin2 said...

Hey, seems like you guys had a blast!!!

Wish I would've been there!

Nice to see Habschick! Comme and visit at sportsnet, HC!

Chuck said...

Now that's dedication, Robert: 4am the morning after and you were already pounding out your thoughts on a keyboard! At 4am I was still trying to figure out how to crawl to Dunn's for one of their fabulous smoked meat club sandwiches, and I'm proud to say that I managed to make it without injuring myself.

I too would like to offer my thanks and compliments on your wonderful encapsulation of the days' events. It's just another reason why I have you site bookmarked.

I'll be heading up to Montreal a few more time this season to take in a game. As GTC suggests, I'd love to hook up and talk Canadiens with such great fans again. If you guys make plans, I'd be honoured to be part of them.

Thanks again to everyone for making the Summit such a huge success!


HabsChick said...

Great summary of a great weekend. I'm looking forward to reading more of your blog and hopefully getting to know everyone a bit better.

Thanks for the very kind words as well. :)

BrownJesus said...

Glad you had a great time Rob. And I'm not surprised Mr. Stubbs thought highly of your blog - but that's just because I do too. ;) Seriously, no offense to the crew at the Gazette, but your insight is equally valuable.

Hope to see you all at the next summit.

Lal Din - the Habs fan in T.O.

Robert L said...

Wow, lotsa people to address here - one by one!

In order from top to bottom:

NAILA: I know it was Alex - blame on it on tiredness! Still, there is a Dan I am misplacing in all the Hab happiness that was going around.

Looks like between yourself, Alex, Habschick, Tyler, and myself, we pretty much have the whole day covered in pictures for all of us to remember. The day was a freaking blast.

I checked out your blog yesterday, not knowing you were an aspiring journalist. I beleive that by the next time we meet, the word "aspiring" will be dropped from your resume.

It's a great blog! I'll be tuning in often.

About the title "Alligators On A Helicopter" - I told 4 four friends that it was a sequel to "Snakes" and they all can't wait to see it!

Concerning the pics. You're on the wrong end of the lens!

GTC: Herb - you would be great with my morning coffee, just as you were with my before and after game beers. I feel damn guilty that I didn't get a shot of you for the post. On another day, I won't have to share our time with so many other Habs fans.

Your memory of all things Habs surely matches mine, and I imagine that in conversation, our memories would blend well enough to recall things we've both forgotten.

I can't wait for the day!

It will happen!

SY: Here's hoping you're in on it next time! Unfortunately, I did my liquored best to associate faces and names. I'm hoping a few folks can shout out "Hey that's me there", to help me out!

RetroMikey: A wedding, damn, that's no excuse! 48 people uniting beats two anytime!

Kidding aside, I appreciated your compliments and readership. You've been an avid commenter here and I would certain be the one buying the pitcher in Hamilton.

Should my hockey playing daughter reach the Provincials again, or take part in the 26th Annual Walter Gretzky tourney in Brantford, we'll have to work something out.

Keep an eye out on the blog, as I update her progress in the coming months!

LAINLIN 2: For Habchick, you might have a fight on your hands!

CHUCK: When you mention smoked meat, you make me envious!

I must thank you for adding the word "encapsulation" to my vocabulary. I surely must attend one of those get togethers - first for the company, and secondly for the grammar.

You'll recognize me, I'll be the guy in the retro Gilbert Delorme jersey!

HabsChick: You getting to know anyone better will never be a problem!

Pardon that remark!

Glad you enjoy my blog. Remember, with inflation, anyone's 2 cents are worth a quarter, so feel free to comment, bash, disagree, or send more pictures anytime!

Pardon that remark!

BROWN JESUS: You have to be at the next Summit! I cannot do justice in words to how everybody seemed to enjoy the day and each other.

It felt like coming home!

Mr. Stubbs words have left me somewhere on Cloud 10, really.

Beyond being linked by Mr. Stubbs himself at HIO, and having him comment in this space, hearing him say he enjoys this site while looking me in the eyes is beyond description.

Dave is the die hardest of Habs die hard fans, and I am merely a student.

Your compliment, indeed, hits home.

It is for gracious folk such as you that I write.

TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE DROPPED A LINE HERE: I thank you for the boost and motivation. I started this site out writing to an audience of one. You all have contributed to making this site what it is becoming.

I guess I'm in it for the long haul!

Much appreciation beyond simple words.

With respect and gratitude,

Robert L