When the chorus starts up halfway through the second period, Sara Mastroianni is in full throat amid a sea of Habs sweaters, all eyes glued to the blaring French-language broadcast of RDS.
"Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole." - The Star
I guess we should play along with this obvious attempt to shock us. "Gosh Toronto Star, what's so weird about Habs fans singing the only song they remember?"
It's the kind of scene replicated up and down Montreal's Crescent St. on game nights.
Except that Mastroianni, a 25-year-old Quebecker, is sitting in Kilgour's Bar on Bloor St. W., having googled "Habs-friendly bar in Toronto" from her home in Thornhill.
Zut alors! Les Habitants dans notre village? NO SIR THIS WON'T STAND. What's the point of this article? To point out that there are Habs fans in Toronto? There are Leafs fans in Montreal and there are even Senators fans in Ottawa; big deal. People move from New York to Boston and continue to
end up as unidentified bodies in the Charles River be Yankees fans. It happens. People move around to find work or go to school.
"I've never seen so many Habs fans," says Scott Murie, who with his brother Chris runs The Dizzy sports bar on Roncesvalles Ave. "It's like they've come out of the woodwork."
You've never seen so many Habs fans because since 1993 the Canadiens haven't been to a Conference Final. Normally at this time of year the Habs bandwagon is as empty as Jacques Lemaire's bookshelf.
Let's look at some of our Habs fans in the article:
The ranks would include Martin Parrot, who's taken to watching games at The Dizzy, where he's been pleasantly surprised to find perfect strangers swearing at the screen in French.
Not that he's always bled the bleu, blanc et rouge. "I'm from Quebec City, so becoming a Habs fan took a bit of time," he laughs.
Disgusting. I understand Quebec lost the Nords but cheering for a local rival after your team leaves makes you an objectively bad person. I don't even have an over the top analogy for this because nothing tops it. I've got nothing.
Over at the bar Mike Martinez is explaining why, despite being born here, he's never warmed to the Leafs.
During his 31 years on the planet, the Buds have rarely been competitive at the highest levels, and last won a Stanley Cup in the late Cretaceous Period. "I don't think they'll win before I die, either," he says.
Well thank god you jumped onto a bandwagon with tons of success. I'll repeat because this bears repeating: Montreal won the cup in 1993 and hasn't left the second round since. Track record of success!
Remember of course that talking to Habs fans is exactly like talking to a Yankees fan. If the Habs or Yankees lost every game for the next ten years due to a combination of ineptitude and God proving his own existence to the exuberant masses you'd still hear "24 Cups", while Leafs fans are the ones accused of living in the past. 17 years isn't 43, but Montreal has a core made of past physical peak UFAs and no young talent save for PK Subban and Jaroslav Halak who they'll either trade or ruin.
Client Jaroslav Halak needs to make that call to Allan Walsh in the tradition of Canadien goalies: "Trade me right fucking now."
They're also a Canadian-based team, which makes them automatically sainted among a lot of bar patrons at this time of year.
It's a way of poking NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the eye, since every diehard fan in the Great White North suspects Bettman would rather see the Stanley Cup final played out in American cities.
So, yes, there's a higher principle at play. "Bring it home," Chris Murie says of the hardware. "It's been 17 years."
This makes no sense. I hate Montreal. You hate Montreal. We all hate Montreal. Why would we want Montreal to win the Cup to bring it back to Canada? It truly boggles the mind. I'd like to continue by pointing out that anyone here rooting for Vancouver is cheering for the whiniest fanbase in Canada to have something to rub our noses in.
If the Habs manage to win the Cup again this year, says Murie, "I'll burn all my Leafs stuff."
1. If the Habs manage to win the Cup you won't have to burn your Leafs stuff; rioting Habs fans and their bandwagon hangers on will do it for you.
2. This is a safe bet.