Is hockey a religion in Montreal? You be the judge.


The following is a guest post by our designer, Mivil Deschênes.

A 2008 article entitled “Worshipping the Habs” talks about a book that compares Montreal’s passion for their home team, the Montreal Canadiens, to a religious fervour.

Are the Montreal Canadiens a religion? That’s my belief. And the NFB has the footage to prove it! It’s like Moses parting the Red Sea filmed by Jean-Claude Labrecque.

The founding myth

All religions need a founding myth. Montreal Canadiens fans tell tales of a golden age peopled with supermen who gorged on inch-thick steaks, smoked in the locker room and skated to victory after victory, their hair streaming behind them.

Here's Hockey!, Leslie McFarlane, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The hero

An intermediary between Heaven and Earth, the hero sacrifices himself by battling evil in our stead. In the glorious pantheon of the Montreal Canadiens, there is no better incarnation of the hero than Maurice Richard, glaring down opposing players as he barrels toward the net.

The Rocket, Jacques Payette, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The symbol

I still remember when I was about 10 years old, the father of one of my friends reverently brought out a real Canadiens’ jersey that had belonged to Mario Tremblay, with dried blood stains around the neck. There was definitely something religious about the emotion my friends and I felt when we saw that shirt.

But dogma is intolerant of heresy. Pity this poor little guy who was “benched” by the other villagers for daring to turn up at the rink wearing a Maple Leafs jersey.

The Sweater, Sheldon Cohen, provided by the National Film Board of Canada


Theological question: Can good exist without evil?

Answer: Not in sports.

For Canadiens devotees, their holy war was with Quebec Nordiques fans. That evil was vanquished, but there are rumours that Quebec homes may once again be divided by discord.

The early days of the Quebec Nordiques are captured in the documentary Just Another Job – a candid portrait of a simpler time.

Just Another Job, Pierre Letarte, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

The ecstasy

The ultimate goal of religion being to transcend, you’re now ready to rise above the material world and experience HA’Aki, which may very well be a look at the sport from the point of view of the Creator…

HA'Aki, Iriz Pääbo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

May you all have a great season.



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