Old Habs Dazzle Arena Crowd
The Montreal Canadians, as a professional hockey team, have an aura about them that few NHL teams could ever aspire to achieve. It can be only partially attributed to their long history of excellence and their many Stanley Cup victories. Historically they were a team known for dynamic personalities who could consistently come together in unrivaled teamwork to pull victory after victory from the edges of defeat. Another factor for their legendary status may be that many of their original superstars came from humble, Quebec roots. Some were from small farms, others remote villages in the coldest regions of Quebec, but all were boys whose dedication and passion pushed them to achieve superstardom with a pair of skates, a puck and a dream.
Affectionately nicknamed the Habs, the Montreal Canadians were always a team that seemed greater than the sum of its’ parts. And on Sunday, when they played at The Pat Burns Arena, that superstar quality shone through in more ways than their game of hockey. The retired Habs players donated their time to play for the benefit of the Arena opening in a tribute to their old coach, Pat Burns, and his widow, Line Burns. Many Stanstead players claimed the opportunity to play against the retired Habs was not only a thrill, but an honor. The game was fast paced and exciting. To be honest, even the warm up was exciting!
It was with great anticipation that Stanstead’s hockey team, the Stanstead Stars, awaited their chance to play against NHL greats such as the legendary Guy Carbonneau, Martin Lafleur, and Patrice Brisebois. Lafleur, son of hockey great Guy Lafleur, is an alumni of Stanstead College. Michael Wolfe, Head-Master at the College, claimed he hardly recognized Martin Lafleur when
from page 1 he saw him Sunday. “When he was young I remember him as a thin and lanky young man. He must have put on fifty pounds of solid muscle, because now he’s huge.”
Mr. Wolfe, who played for the Stanstead Stars on Sunday, shared his thoughts on the experience of playing against the retired Habs players. He stated that the game was a ‘Hockey thrill of a lifetime’ and he expressed his appreciation for the team coming to Stanstead, noting they were great ambassadors of the sport, Pat Burns and the Arena. He went on to say that he spent the first period in awe just watching their teamwork, passing skills and the geometry of their game. What also struck him was their inclination to anticipate where the puck was going to be, while the Stanstead team was concentrating on where the puck was. He claimed he more fully recognized, and appreciated, their knowledge and skill after having played against them.
After the game players met with fans, chatted and signed autographs. Their spirit of generosity and appreciation of their fans was evident. Guy Carbonneau and Patrice Brisebois presented a Montreal Canadians jersey to Line Burns in tribute to both herself and her late husband’s dedication to both the sport and the Montreal Canadians as a team. The crowd stood in a standing ovation to honor Burns’ widow as she received the jersey and addressed the crowd. Choked up yet smiling, Ms. Burns accepted the gift in gratitude and spoke sincerely of her appreciation for the realization of the Pat Burns Arena project, the tribute to her late husband, and her thanks to all those who helped bring the construction of the Arena to fruition. Ms. Burns was quoted as saying “If Pat were here today, I think he would say how impressed he was by this wonderful building and how grateful he was for all the hard work that’s gone into it.” She then went on to say “I know that Pat would be so happy that this has happened. He would be so proud.” Later she was in the stands autographing hockey programs for what seemed a neverending line of children eager to meet her. Canadian senator, Jacques Demers, ex-coach of the Habs, was also on hand to coach his old team members.
The arena could hardly contain all the spectators, as many were on the mezzanine watching the game from above. The mood was electric and the game energetic, with Stanstead scoring the first goal. The final score was 11-9. Surprisingly, or not, the Habs won.
Stanstead College headmaster Michael Wolfe and former Hab Guy Carbonneau (forefront) get ready to fight for the puck after Line Burns, widow of the late Pat Burns, drops it. Seen also in the photo (l. to r.) are Federal Minister Denis Lebel, former Hab Henri Richard, Orford MNA Pierre Reid and Stanstead mayor Philippe Dutil.
Line Burns, center, receiving a Canadiens jersey in memory of her late husband Pat Burns who coached the team, from Guy Carbonneau and Patrick Brisebois.
Line Burns graciously signed autographs for youngsters
before the match.
Senator Jacques Demers, also a former coach of the Canadiens, speaking with a fan.