So many moments could have defined the weekend I spent in Montreal taking in the all-star festivities.
Alex Kovalev of the hometown Habs being named MVP of a game that – at the very least – featured a very entertaining finish. Vincent Lecavalier getting what I have to believe was the loudest, longest ovation for a player in Montreal who has never worn the blue, blanc et rouge during the SuperSkills on Saturday night.
And then there was Alex Ovechkin.
But my favorite moment from an outstanding all-star weekend didn’t come during the game itself or any breakaway competition. It didn’t come when I got to walk up the red carpet at a swanky party hosted by The Hockey News on Friday night, or even when I got to skate around the Bell Centre ice for a game of shinny with my fellow media members early Sunday morning. The most memorable and telling item I’ll take with me from three awesome days in Montreal was wandering into the Bell Centre on Saturday morning for the Eastern Conference practice and seeing an arena full of people screaming and cheering like its was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
That was my, “Only in Montreal” moment.
Mike Komisarek felt it. And so, too, did his East teammates.
“All the guys on the ice were just in awe of how loud our fans are and how passionate they are, even for a practice,” said Komisarek, who gets to experience the exuberance of Canadiens fans all the time as a defenseman for the Habs. “You can just get a sense, walking around downtown the last few days, the city (was) just so excited and amped up for this event. We are the Mecca of hockey here in Montreal. Everyone knows how passionate the fans are.”
I can’t claim to have visited every NHL rink in every NHL city, but I sure find it hard to believe any of them can compete with this one. Where else would you find legions of fans breaking into song and cheering meaningless goals scored during drills of an all-star game practice?
“It’s a truly unique, one-of-a-kind place,” Komisarek added.
Yes Mike, it most certainly is.
This column also appears in the Montreal Metro newspaper.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.