By Karine Hains, Editor-In-Chief

Of all the franchises in professional sports history, only one will celebrate its 100th anniversary in the 2008-2009 season. Which one? ” Les Habitants”, “Les Glorieux”, “La Sainte Flanelle” yes I am referring to the Montreal Canadiens. Founded on the 4th December 1909; it’s the only team which was created before the National Hockey League. So far, the Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup 24 times in their history, more times than any other team. It is no surprise that they have decided to organize many events to mark their centennial as well as releasing many items for the fans to collect. Earlier this week, a press conference was held at the Bell Centre and it sounds like the Montreal Canadiens’ faithfuls are in for a great year.

To kick things off, Electronic Arts has released its annual NHL game but this year, to underline the anniversary of The Canadiens; they have included a playable legendary Canadiens team. Patrick Roy, Maurice Richard, and Jean Beliveau all the greats are lining up together in one same team. A real treat for the nostalgic amongst us. Then, on the 22nd November, the organization has announced that it will be retiring Roy’s number 33 and raising it to the rafters. You can expect this match against the Bruins to be highly emotional and it will be interesting to see if the fans in Montreal have forgiven Roy for the way in which he left the team. Now on to the hobby related announcements…

The first good news for all the collectors out there is that during the 2008-2009 season and the following one, the Canadiens will hold 8 centennial jersey nights. On those nights, the players will be wearing the different jerseys the team wore over the course of its history. For true Habs fanatics, the acquisition of those jerseys could be a pricy affair but nevertheless a nice investment.

If jerseys are not your forte you might prefer to get the six collector coins showcasing the evolution of the Canadiens’ logo which will be released by the Royal Canadian mint. Pricing details and release date have yet to be unveiled but I must say this set looks like a must have for all Canadiens collectors. From the initial basic C to the much more elaborated yet simple logo they have today, each step is represented.

Perhaps you are a traditional collector and like to stick to the good old hockey cards? Fear not, there was also interesting news for you. A brand new Upper Deck release is scheduled for the 14th January 2009; The Montreal Canadiens Centennial Set. Each tin of the product will include 10 packs of 8 cards as well as an exclusive Stanley Cup Champions banner. The regular set will include 200 cards and inserts such as Trophy Winners, Retired Numbers and Famous Montreal Captains are also on the checklist. For the memorabilia/autograph enthusiasts; there will of course be signed cards and even dual autographs cards.  For me though, the best thing about this set is that it’s taking us back to the good old days of collecting. Yes, believe it or not; at the back of the cards, you will be able to see all the statistical information available about the player depicted. You might also be interested to know that so far, the price announced for a box of these is only $29.99.

The final items which really caught my attention are the “Memorable Games” box set and the “Honored Canadiens” book.  The DVD box set will include the 10 most memorable games played by The Canadiens as determined by a popular vote. Included will be THE Good Friday match against the Quebec Nordiques and the great comeback of 2008 against the Rangers. The box set is to be released in early November and so far, prices online range from $52.99 to $68.99, a rather reasonable price for 10 full games if you ask me. As for the “Honored Canadiens” book, it relates the achievements of the 44 players and builders from the team who have been inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. I don’t know about you, but these two items will be top of my Christmas list!

All these elements coupled with the All-Stars game and the entry draft to be held at the Bell Centre tell me that this year, more than ever the town of Montreal will be all about Hockey. To many Canadians and to myself, there is no question; Hockeytown is in Montreal and Wings fans can say what they want…This article does not cover everything which has been release for the centennial, only my personal highlights. If you wish to know about the other events and items available, please visit the Montreal Canadiens homepage.