Many Canadians can relate to wanting to play for the hockey teams they grew up rooting for. For Ray Lalonde, his dream was to play for the Montreal Canadiens. While that dream didn’t come true, he feels very fortunate to work for the Habs as VP of Sales & Marketing and discusses this year’s 100th Anniversary of the storied franchise.
While only a half dozen professional sports teams have ever had a 100th Anniversary, none have had the success of winning their Championship 24 times as have the Canadiens with the Stanley Cup. According to Lalonde, those results are attributed to great owners, general managers, coaches and players, in addition to a little luck. Fans and players alike know the history and respect what the team stands for.
The support for the Canadiens is unique in comparison to teams of other North American cities. In many markets, fans will spread their support over multiple teams and sports with regard to both professional and college sports. For the past century, the Canadiens have been the focal point for sports in Montreal. The Expos have come and gone and the Alouettes have had a much shorter history. Additionally, there has always been a strong French Canadian pride that goes along with intense media focus.
To keep that tradition alive, the Canadiens have done an exceptional job in keeping former players involved with the team and community. Many fans are knowledgeable about Hall of Famers such as Maurice Richard, Jacques Plante and Jean Beliveau, but not as many of that generation are still around. With the advent of the internet, most of the forties and under crowd relate to the teams of the 70’s that include Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden, Steve Shutt and Larry Robinson, to name a few. Regardless, the team continues to pass the torch to new leaders and maintain the tradition across generations.
“To be a part of a storied franchise that celebrates 100 years is very special and really a once in a lifetime opportunity,” affirmed Lalonde. “We’ve been preparing for five years and studied other franchises that also had century anniversaries. The Canadiens worked closely with the NHL in providing a memorable NHL All-Star weekend. It was a terrific showcase of the teams history as well as the young guns of today.”
Those interested in learning more about the NHL’s most successful franchise can explore a wonderful exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto that honors the Canadiens’ 100th Anniversary. www.hhof.com