Sunday, October 26, 2008
The Habs Inside Out's second annual Habs Fan Summit has come and gone in a blur.
As was the case 12 months ago on the occasion of the inaugural event, it was indeed a blissful blur once again.
I can only truly speak for my own self, but perhaps this thought resonates throughout all the hearts and minds of the other participants in this weekend. After months of anxious anticipation, the day sure passes by in a flash.
Before you know it, the day is ending, and it seems to leave you wanting more.
Consider this: There were quite possibly 70 or more people attending the game and the individual events. For everyone gathered, there were dozens of immediate new aquaintences made. For those who took part the first time around, there were familiar faces added in to the meet and greet mix. Through the multitude of handshakes, hugs and hellos, there simply is never quite enough time to satisfy one's own curiosity by meeting and spending time with each.
Next time around, I'll do good to split myself in seven!
I arrived in Montreal at about 10 in the morning, and headed straight for Eggspectations. There I met Adam Arsenault (Hyfyarse), Bill Howson (Bill H), Denis Lacombe (Hoegarden), Paul Dube (Habs Rule 1), Chris Rovers (Old Grover), Kevin van Steendalar (YatheHabsrule), and Sherrie Reid - Wilkinson and her husband Tim.
It was right from this moment that I could begin to fully appreciate the importance of Sherrie and Tim's work in making name tags for the group. For any future endeavors by Habs Fan Summit organizers, this is something to take note of. No sooner do I walk from breakfast to the Bell, I have already begun to forget names as new faces start to blur in with those I've just met. The nametags came in quite handy at several times during the day. Thanks Sherrie and Tim!
Last Summit, one of the more enjoyable features was the Bell Centre tour. I think I had even more fun this time around. Perhaps our tour guide being thrown into action, caught off guard, and overwhelmed had something to do with it.
"No pictures of the Canadiens allowed", she said, as everyone with a camera secretly snapped away while Carey Price and Guillaume Latendresse played baseball with a puck.
So much for the idea of our group being split into two or three economically sized groups. We were spread out all over the seats and stands as our girl struggled to be heard.
"I hope I am being enough loud!"
I think our group felt for the poor girl. For her, it must have been like trying to herd unruly cattle with a box of matches in the wind.
One of the first things that blew me away was the hugeness of the new scoreboard when seeing it in person. My good God! I joked that there could be an apartment complex set up with a swimming pool in there and no one would be the wiser.
Our guide explained the significance of the banners raised, the number of seats in the building, the cost of luxury boxes, and how concerts and events are set up.
Youppiville must have been a treat for Herb and Michelle's daughter's and Sulemaan's family as well. I know that Ian was greatly disappointed not to meet his idol and get his pawprint, but it looked he recovered fairly quickly.
Walking through the hall ways of the Bell Centre, history is plastered everywhere one looks. An hour long tour simply does not do it justice. It is truly THE temple of hockey - a literal and pictorial shrine to the evolution of the team, and the game. The whole of downtown Montreal reflects the 100th anniversary of the club everywhere one looks. as does the exterior of the Bell Centre, with it's not so subtle photo tandems of players such as Jean Beliveau and Saku Koivu pictured together.
When the building was inaugurated in 1996, the atmosphere of it at first was awkward and displaced. There was no aura to it at the time, but things have changed greatly over the past few years. It is now one very lively place, in more senses than one. Dare I say it, but with a winning team in the building now, the Bell is coming close to containing a spirit quite similar to the hallowed Forum. A Stanley Cup win will just about clinch that notion.
Everywhere you glance, you see the past and present coming together. I especially love the tribute to the Hall Of Famers. The long verticle black and white photos going back to Georges Vezina are simply stunning. Each time I walk past them, I can't help but feel these are the building and the team's caretakers, watching over. They are something other than ghosts, as they are often referred as. They look to be coming alive, ready to burst from frozen sepia toned poses to score a winning goal or make a game saving stop. I could stand before them, appreciative and spellbound for hours.
Next up on the tour, was what is for many a personal favorite - a trip up to the press box, hanging out with the banners in full view. There were a few stops along the way.
Eight floors up by elevator, we are led down a hallway with a few twists and turns. Pictures in the hall line the walls, including the most recent Cup in 1993, and the parade down Ste. Catherine that ensued. I was looking at some of these, when I noticed a shorter, white haired gentleman make a mad dash right by our group, and turning into an open doorway.
It was Yvon Pedneault!
I was about to follow him, when I realized he'd gone into the men's room. I couldn't possibly chat up Pedneault at a urinal while he's taking a leak, but I thought about it! Twice!
I've always liked Pedneault's work, so I waited in the hall for him a few minutes, hoping for a brief word or two. Most of the group were veered off into the press room lounge, and I though it best that I join them before I miss out on seeing it. Evidently, there was more in Pedneault's hurry than a quick tinkle!
The press room is really cool. It is vaste enough to handle the multitudes of big time games. Along the walls are pictures of 100 years of Habs media men in both languages, and the setup is a very respectful nod to those who have covered the Canadiens so well for longer than I have been around.
The room is named in honour of Jacques Beauchamps, and features pictures of everyone from Dick Irvin Jr. to Rene Lecavalier to Red Fisher. Looking at the pictorial tribute, I realized that many who have covered the Canadiens whether in print or via radio and television broadcasts, are as iconic in some ways as the players they covered. I stood before shots of Danny Gallivan, Claude Mouton and Roger Doucet, and it hit me that in a certain sense, these men might just have defined my teen years as much as Elton John and Paul McCartney had.
Our guide informed us that there was not only refreshments available, but meals as well. It was surprising to me to learn that none of it was free.
Whatever happened to perks?
I guess it would be considered a sort of conflict of interest to be filling the bellies of those in charge of critiquing and writing about the club. I can see it now:
"We'll spring for the filet mignon Monsieur Tremblay, if you agree to display amnesia over those brutal Brisebois giveaways for ten games."
On the far wall end wall, there was a beautiful, enlarged photo of the Stanley Cup, with the engraved names of the 1993 team very prominent. While I stared into the listing of names, I paused at Mike Keane. The surname starting with a K made me close my eyes and envision others - Koivu, Kovalev, Komisarek, A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn, Kostopoulos. I guess I was dreaming of a future I feel is so imminant.
As I was leaving the room, I thought I saw a familiar face in the corner of my eye. "It's Dave Stubbs", I thought, turning to look at a wall with a vacant space.
I looked back on the wall where I had just walked by, and there was no picture of Stubbs in sight. I must have been gazing into the future again.
Leaving the press lounge, we descended a long flight of stairs that are actually suspended from the ceiling, high above the rink. The steps lead to "La Gallerie de Presse", and an incomparable view of the entire rink and seating area.
Talk about your sight of sights inside the Bell. Not only do the scribes have an unobstructed overhead view of the entire ice surface, but one is also at eye level with Cup banners and retired numbers.
My thoughts here were instantaneous: "Damn, that ceiling area is crowded!" A few more retired numbers combined with a couple of Cup banners, and they will have to start fitting the new pendants in sideways.
Behind the suspended walkway lies the newly unveiled Ring Of Honour, in tribute to the Canadiens 54 Hall Of Fame members. The walls behind the rink's cheap seats have brought out the ghosts from the club's dressing room right into the lap of the common ticket paying fan. I think it is an awesome added touch. It's an incredible nod to the history of the team at the buildings highest accessible point. It is up here that one realizes the pride in the history of the club - all 360 degrees of it, everywhere you look. For a moment, I had a thought for fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets. How on Earth could a Canadiens fan ever get across to them the significance of what all this feels like? Then again...who cares!
When our group first spanned out in the press gallery, everyone was quick to assume a journalist's seat along the row. The raised chairs enabled a good lean and look over down at the ice. I sat there myself, looking over and imagining a laptop before me, notes being scribbled on the side, and the atmosphere of a hotly contested playoff game unravelling before my eyes. This image inside my head was vivid and captivating, but hours later, after an Alex Tanguay goal, I looked up to that area and realized that I couldn't possibly imagine anywhere near what it would truly be like to experience such an atmosphere from that point of view. It made me give thought to the professionals who work the area. I felt a sudden surge of envy inside of me, combined with a deepened respect for all the work that brought them there. I hope that once in a while it hits them that their fortitude and perseverences in life have allowed them such an enviable privelege.
As I walked the area snapping pictures, I heard a voice note that the Gazette's Mike Boone had mentioned online at HIO that his seat in the area was directly in front of where Newsy Lalonde and Joe Malone were displayed in the Ring of Honour. Quickly a group of fans gathered around the seats marked out for the Gazette scribes, and took in the view.
Several took turns and sat in the seats reserved for Fisher, Boone and Stubbs, likely wondering themselves what it would be like to be them for an evening. It was a cute kind of moment actually, and I was handed several cameras to snap shots as people as they posed in their seats.
Only later did I realize it, and tie in a certain significance to those gestures. Right there, in full view of the Ring Of Honour, were our group of Habs fans, unknowingly creating a Circle Of Friendship And Acknowledgement in the very seats of the men whose website brought us all together in the first place.
How's that for scary sentimental notions! Thank goodness such a thought didn't occur to me at the time. I might have spoken it out loud!
At this point, I believe our pretty tour guide learned that we were definitely an unherdable proposition. She had been attempting for a good bit to get us to move along in a timely manner to the next part of the tour, but it seemed that some of us were just beyond magnetized by being where we were.
Steve Kerley, known as 24 Cups online, had decided to walk off along the entire oval of press row. He'd literally vanished from sight. We didn't know if he'd gone off to get a view of all 24 Cup banners or what he was up to, but we were starting to figure that he just wanted to walk the entire oval by himself. Just as Ian and I were about to consider turning into a two man search party, Steve slowly appeared from the end zone horizon, totally unaware that his little trek had enabled us an extra five minutes of time in the Bell's heavenly heights.
I can understand Steve's curiosity. Had the Habs dressing room been available for tourists during the regular season schedule, I might have been found fitting myself into Koivu's equipement or showering in the players stalls.
As we were departing the area, I noticed a press list on the wall by the exit door where a list of all the credentialled media and guests were listed. You could see that there were 3 from the Gazette, a pair from La Presse, and so on. The list was from the previous home game against the Panthers, and two scouts listed as being in attendance were Peter Mahovlich of the Atlanta Thrashers and John Ferguson Jr. of the San Jose Sharks. Let those Marlean and Kovalchuk rumours begin!
From the Bell Centre sky, we then visited one of more unique and personalized areas inside the Bell - the oldtimer's room. Walking into "Le Chambre des Anciens" the first thing one sees is the torch that was passed from captain to captain from the closing of the Forum just inside the doorway leading inside. One one wall, there is a display featuring paintings of all the captains of the team.
There are many iconic photos of great Canadiens inside, including the famous dream team voted by fans in 1985. Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Larry Robinson, Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard, and Dickie Morre, along with coach Toe Blake, pose with the current captain Bob Gainey, and the Habs oldest surviving member at the time, Aurel Joliat.
A funny moment came when our guide informed us about the 48 game rule concerning former players allowed into the group.
The game minimum results from the old schedule from the early 1940's, but when the guide asked if anyone among us knew why the limit was imposed at 48 one of the Summit members shouted out that it was one game more than Darcy Tucker had played with the club.
I'd be willing to bet that our guide had no idea who Tucker was, as she'd just gotten Henri Richard confused with Guy Lafleur, while explaining his exclusion from the Habs Deam Team.
Returning by elevator down to the main floor, we moved on to the press conference room. This is where all the journalists and cameramen gather post game, to get coach Guy Carbonneau's take on wins and losses. I have to say, that I will never forget last season's trip, when Plek - Andrew perfectly mimicked Carbo by answering a series imaginary questions in french, each one beginning with "Ecoute, on n'a pas jouer en equipe". P.A. Had the room in stitches.
Last October, perhaps only 10 or 12 from the group sat in Carbonneau's seat and posed for a shot. This time around, there was actually a twenty foot line that formed in waiting for the chair. Our guide remarked that she had never seen a group so anxious and excited to have their pictures taken here. I explained to her that these pictures were likely to become Habs Inside Out avatars in short order, and that I was about to update mine.
My good guess is that about 45 of us posed before the centennial and McDonald's logos backdrop. I imagine that a healthy dozen of us Summiteers will be displaying these shots as avatars in the coming days.
It was hilarious that so many from the group needed no cue to ham it up from the coach's podium. I was able to capture the various facial dispositions offered by Anthony (Carmine007), Denis Piche, Adam Arsenault, Paul Kininmonth (Saku's Evil Twin), Paul Dube, Chris (Old Grover) Rovers, and Stephen (Connecticut Man) Herron.
Our fearless leader Ian then defied superstition, by opening an umbrella indoors, thereby cursing the Habs on the night. I blame him only slightly more than Brisebois for the 6-4 loss.
Plek - Andrew's legacy of mimicry was almost outdone by Sulemaan Ahmed, who dished out a half dozen frustrated coach's expressions from the podium. I captured three of them clearly. It's not easy snapping shots while trying to hold back so much laughter.
After exiting the press room, the group were brought out into the backstage lobby area, which is actually under and just behind the lowest level of seats at the north end of the Bell Centre. Our tour guide girl explained to us the various functions and processes that take place in that open area, such as catering setups for musical performers. In this space, security is quite tight during events and it is not accessible to the general public. Often, it also serves to host makeshift quickie changerooms for performers such as Madonna, who are newly outfitted after practically every song. To our left, there was a corridor leading to the performers backstage area and dressing rooms.
Directly in front of us, curtained off under the stands, were lunch tables where crews from rocks bands and other entertainment acts could gather and eat. A ways down to the right, around the curved circumference of the arena, were the dressing rooms of the Canadiens players. As an optional game day practice had just ended some of the group were heading off in that direction to see if they could catch a glimpse of a player or two. I was about to follow, when I noticed Yvon Pedneault once more, slipping in and out of the backstage dressing rooms. I tried to chat him up, but he just nodded his head and took off with a guy who looked a lot like Renaud Lavoix. I snapped a quick pick as he blew off.
Funny thing about Pedneault, he's much shorter than you'd guess. He's about 5' 1", making him just slightly taller than Dick Irvin. I recall back in 1984, that I'd gone to the Forum to see the Habs play the Winnipeg Jets, and just prior to the first period ending, I left a minute early to beat the rush to the washrooms. On my return to my seat in the lower level, I made a wrong turn and decided the curtained off corridor was where I had first come through. As I parted the curtains, I walked directly into a televison interview with Irvin and the Jets Paul McLean. I got hussled out of there with a stern arm and a mean look of admonishment. Still, I'll never forget the sight of Irvin doing the interview standing atop of a two step stool.
From the lobby area, I finally wandered down to the corridor's end to find out that I just missed seeing Carey Price leave the Canadiens dressing room. It's unfortunate, but quite understandable that we are not allowed inside the room during the season. Next summer, I have promised myself that I will take the trip with my daughter, and get ourselves pictured in the players stalls.
The tour was now over, and our group was brought to the Bell centre boutique, where our tour coupons were good for a 15% discount on all items in the store. The stuff on sale inside is simply gorgeous, as all Canadiens wear is. I was hoping to get my hands on a retro jersey from 1911-12, but they aren't on sale until they have made an appearance on the ice. I was greatly disappointed. Most of the memorabilia inside is quite expensive. I almost grabbed the Monopoly game and in time I should pick one up. How about a round of Monopoly over drinks at the next Summit. Sounds like a blast!
After mulling about in the Habs store for a bit I chatted outside with Ian, Herb, Dave N, and others, and decided to make my way through the rain to Hurley's to join part of the group and get a bite to eat. I figured I'd best munch early as I knew I'd be busy with the raffle at Baton Rouge come three o'clock. Herb reminded me of my meal at Baton last year, when I ordered a trout plate and received a small portion of fish and a hunk of broccoli the size of John Ferguson's fist.
I arrived soaked and drenched at Hurley's, and no one was there. I ordered a swiss mushroom burger, and I have to say it was absolutely delicious. Herb and his family stopped by shortly after and joined me for a bit. It was a nice quiet moment in what was to be a busy day.
I arrived at Baton Rouge right at three o'clock, found my car across the street and grabbed my box of raffle items, threw my jacket over them and headed to the restaurant. Inside I introduced myself to the hostess and then met up with a small gathering from our group downstairs. Several others had already made their way there, and no sooner had I placed my box on the floor did someone ask me, "when do we buy the raffle tickets". It was a good sign of thing to come!
I had forgot my camera in the car, so I received a second soaking retreiving that. Thankfully, not much later, Mike Boone showed up at Baton with some Gazette ball caps, and my head stayed dry the rest of the day. Unfortunately, after putting my camera down, I didn't use it until I had left.
Soon Ian, Chuck and I teamed together and quickly planned out how the raffle would proceed. Everyone who had promised to add prizes to the raffle had already arrived, and we decided to place them all on one table for viewing prior to starting to sell tickets. We were told by the restaurant that by five o'clock, other patrons would be arriving in the seats next to our area, so we hurried to get things going.
The hour that followed was a dizzying blur. Everyone seemed to be excited about the prizes, and were anxious to get underway. We began selling the ticket stubs and it took us a good fourty five minutes just to meet the demand. Ian and Chuck gave the money we received a quick count and we announced that we had made over a thousand dollars. As we were counting, more people kept coming up to us for more tickets. We were pushing five o'clock when the first tickets were drawn and prizes were handed out.
Keith Bockus, known as Khabo online, was the lucky winner of the Gretzky Collection, he spent a good time looking through the pages and sharing it with others. He was thrilled to have won it, and I was very happy for him. It was nice to see that it went somewhere that it was appreciated. Later on in the evening, Keith informed me that he was so proud of what we had done with the raffle that he might give thought to donating the cards back into our raffle next season. How nice that would be!
Shortly after we began, the Canadiens Rejean Houle popped by for some photos, handshakes, and autographs. He mingled through our group as the raffle went on. Rejean was kind enough to sign a pair of cards I had brought along, and we entered them as raffle prizes for a couple of lucky winners.
One of the funnier moments during the raffle came when we drew the ticket for a prize brought in by Paul Dube (Habsrule1). Paul had gone out of his way to get a $150 gift certificate from Adreneline, a tattoo parlour, and we were excited to add it to the raffle. Paul informed me that the certificate would be good to add a two inch sized Habs logo tattoo, and wanted to make sure that it go to someone who would be using it for certain. I assured Paul that it would be used, even if I had to use it myself.
I informed Chuck and Ian about the gift and Paul's desire, and we paid close attention to where it went. When the time came, the prize was won by Mike, a friend who came along with Adam Arsenault. Now I'm sure everyone noticed Mike and Adam - they were they boys whose forearms are tattooed from wrist to shoulder. Upon seeing this, Chuck cracked, "Great, there a guy who could sure use another tattoo!"
Not long after five o'clock, the raffle was in the books, and everyone ordered and ate their meals. I mingled about and finally sat down with Sherrie and Tim and had nice cold one.
Sometime just before six, some of the group decided to do a little bar hopping. I was all set to follow when a surprise visitor came to our table - none other than Habs Fan 4 from the Four Habs Fans blog. It was pretty cool to run into a fellow blogger. We chatted for a bit and he inquired about how the Summit was going so far. As folks were moving on, HF4 and I hit a downtown bar for some serious blogger talk. He thanked me for being one of the first to give the FHF site props at Eyes On The Prize, recalling that they gained a good bunch of readers from that nod. I was kind of surprised that it was even remembered. FHF has taken on a life of it's own since then, and it was extremely interesting speaking insightfully with HF4 about our sites. We spend a good hour talking about what we each do, much of it in mutual admiration. It was one of my favorite moments of the whole day.
By a quarter to seven, we headed back out into the wind and rain, promising to keep in touch. I found my seat next to Adam and Mike section 309 and sat down to watch a movie on the giant screen that featured images from Canadiens history. As beautiful as the montage is, the sound is quite muddled in a crowded arena, and I could barely make out what Laraque, Hamrlik and Koivu were saying as the address Habs history.
Soon the game began, and my worst fears were confirmed. All day as the rain poured down, I kept saying it was good weather for ducks. No sooner was the game underway, the Ducks soon pourred all over the Canadiens. Within minutes, it was 2-0 Anaheim, and I had a strong feeling I would get my wish to see Carey Price play, but under circumstances I'd rather were otherwise.
Though the Canadiens ended up on the wrong side of the 6-4 score, the game itself was highly entertaining. The Canadiens shot 51 times at the Anaheim net, and there were scoring chances galore. Price stopped a penalty shot along the way, but the Canadiens were way off their game. The defensemaen especially, were soft all game long.
Despite the score and the weather, our group spirit couldn't be dampened. After the game, a group of us headed to the Sports Station bar to have some drafts and talk about the game. Ian was in great spirits, displaying the T-shirt made for him by Dave Reid. Keith showed up still clutching the Gretzky binder.
I talked hockey with Steve, Shawn, Kevin and Chuck. Some readers from Habs Inside Out stopped to say hello and chat. The Teacher, Phillippe and Gabrielle were busy aquainting themselves with those they often chat with on the HIO site when Mike Boone and Pat Hickey of the Gazette stopped in for some drafts, hockey talk and high fives.
Boone asked me about how things had gone and how the raffle had went, and I let him know I had close to $1300 in my pocket. I showed him the tucked in wad bulging from my pocket and Boone suggested we hit the strip clubs. "Not a chance", I told him. Good journalist that he is, he employed this little ditty in print a day later.
I stuck around for a couple of beers, but having to head back home an hour down the road, and feeling pretty pooped, I had to end my summit time a bit earlier than I wished. Church with my daughter early next morning was in the plans, so I said my goodbyes and headed out.
A neat thing about these summits coming together, is that by the middle of day, there are already people discussing plans for next year. I watched friendships were as people aquainted themselves, folks promising to remain in touch, and others not wanting to let the day end. We will definitely be doing this again of course. I hope to involved in some way next time as well. Thanks for the good time and great memories, people!
Robert L Note: There is a thank you list for this event that ought to unravel like a long and winding scroll. So many good, good people came together to make this event happen, but none of it would, had it not been for Habs Inside Out becoming a part of our collective lives a little over two years ago.
The HIO site has grown in leaps and bounds since 2006, and it has come to respresent our water cooler, where we meet daily and talk hockey. It is to them that we owe the friendships we have created among ourselves. A big Habs Fans Summit bearhug to gentlemen named Boone, Stubbs, and Mio, and those whose efforts behind the scenes make the site run. High fives to all readers populating the site, who give the HIO crew the reason for it's existence.
Over a week ago at Habs Inside Out, I ran a thank you list of sorts to those helping to make this year's event happen. As HIO will likely take down the Summit tab at some point, I thought I would post what was written there at this space for posterity. I would like the words I spoke then, to last as long as possible.
A final note - thanks to all who endeavored to make this years Gainey Foundation raffle a big success. I became involved in the idea with humble expectations, but your generosity and spirit blew me away. I hope that in future, this feature of our summit continues and grows.
Here is the HIO Summit tab post, dated October 22, 2008 I called "Getting by With A Lot Of Help From Our Friends".
Much work has been done to put this day together, but before getting on to discussing the agenda of the opening of Duck hunting season, a shout out must be passed on for all those who helped bring about great time we are set to enjoy.
From the moment the Summit 2 idea was dropped at HIO this summer, Rob Sweick (a.k.a Smart Dog) came on board enthusiastically, offering to help out in practically every endeavor.
In the areas of ticket purchasing, travel and hotel accomodations, and scheduling, Rob did much work behind the scenes to help prepare for different situations and scenarios as plans unfolded. Unfortunately for our friend, his work was cut short by a death in his family. He passed along what he had come up with, and was very much hoping to attend the game with us. He could not make it here with us for Saturday, but our thanks and best wishes are extended to him for his time and committment.
Vicky, (a.k.a Habs Chick) took over some of Rob's responsabilities, opening up the Pay Pal account and helping us purchase our tickets. She took care of a wide variety of requests and queries in getting the tickets mailed out. Vicky also stepped in to help with travel plans and accomodations. Due to schedule conflicts, she is also unable to be with us for the game.
Stephen Herron (a.k.a. Connecticut Man1) was essential in helping set up an HQ Summit site where initial information was passed to and fro. In the vital early goings, Stephen helped us gather lists of those wishing to attend the Summit. In communicating ideas and helping sort through all kinds of murky water, Stephen did us all a great many favors making difficult tasks seem a whole lot simpler. He's also great at catching things other's miss - visit his post two entries down from this one for travel info and direction to the Bell Centre. Stephen will also be assisting with the morning tours. He'll be one the first people you meet on Saturday, helping co-ordinate traffic at the ticket window for the tour.
Sherrie Reid (a.k.a. Secret Dragonfly) has made name tags for the group in order to help us all get aquainted that much quicker come Saturday morning. You'll find her either just outside the Bell Centre doors on the east side of the building, or inside downstairs at the ticket window where the tours begin.
Chuck Lewis (Chuck) has been a big booster of the idea of a prize raffle for The Gainey Foundation right from the get - go. He's not only offered some great advice and ideas on how to make this most successful, but he has pitched in with some awesome prize ideas and donations himself. Chuck will be selling the tickets at Baton Rouge - make sure to thank him for all his work and vision.
Bryan Traynor (a.k.a Nightmare 49) was our Montreal area restaurant scout. He made numerous calls and visits in order for us to have the perfect places for a pre - game meal and post game celebrations. Buy him a drink and tell him how much you enjoyed the meal!
As plans progressed for the day's events, Paul Dube (a.k.a. Habs Rule 1) came up with the great notion of a gathering place for all those already in Montreal by morning to meet and have breakfast at Eggspectations. What started out as a small group now looks to be quite large. Thanks, Paul, for coming up with a great way for some of us to begin the day.
As details for the raffle unfolded, participants and donators too numerous to mention quickly picked up the spirit big time, and pitched in with some wonderful prizes. Thanks to them and their generosity, this part of our day will be one of the most memorable.
The Gazette and Habs Inside Out crews, from Boone, Stubbs and Mio on the front lines, to Dru, John and Stu behind the scenes, have helped us out in a myriad of ways. From promotion to support, they have given us a space here to progress our ideas, backed with enthusiasm and some technical support. Let's not forget that without them giving us this great place to connect, this whole event does not happen. Should any of them stop at any of our destinations on Saturday, let them know how much everything they do is appreciated.
There are also several good people inside the Montreal Canadiens organization that have helped us a great deal along the way. They would wish to remain anonymous, but trust this - they know who we are!
The words "class and dignity" are often attached to the club, and it is easy to understand why. Right from the top on down to those answering phones and questions, we could not have been treated better. That's why we are so proud to be fans!
It should also be acknowledged that the efforts of last season's organizing group, led by Jason Weiss (a.k.a. Jay In P.A.), Leigh Anne Power (JT), Vicky, and Bryan Jones (Yeats) who were very supportive in their advice and direction early, and throughout, this process. Props for the trailblazing, folks. We all wish you could be among us this time. Maybe next year!
Ian Cobb was purposely left until the end here. Our good friend took on the reigns of the Summit when it needed someone to herd all these ideas into cohesion. He's done a masterful job.
Ian is kidded all the time, but without him leading us this time around and delegating tasks, this event might not have come together as it has. In regards to practically every facet of this event, Ian has left his stamp. His dedication, direction and openmindedness has enabled so much of this process to progress fluidly.
Throughout this coming together, he has kept tight tabs on where each idea was at. Since late July, he's likely made hundreds of calls and sent out as many e-mails in assurring things were proceding as planned.
When the first group of tickets were sold in no time flat, they were many disappointed fans left out. While it looked as though getting more tickets to the game would be impossible, Ian found a way to grab an additional 25 more. Not only did he work tirelessly to achieve this, he also plunked down his own hard earned money to secure them.
Ian is quite a special man. He's simply inspirational! His motivation for persevering so hard on our behalf has been nothing more complicated than wanting us all to have a great time.
We're all lucky to know this wonderful man. He's a great friend!
Lastly, a great big group shout out to everyone that got on board for this year's Summit.
The numbers were a little staggering to start out with. From the moment the idea was launched, and all through the anticipation leading up to Saturday, your kind words, support, generosity of spirit, encouragement and appreciation has not gone unnoticed or unfelt.
Suffice to say we represent our team well!
A special thanks for photos from the Gazette (newsprints), and Steve (24 Cups) Kerley, Chris (Chorske) Blanar, and Kevin van Steendalar for sharing their memeories via Photobucket, Flickr, and Facebook.