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  1. When the Stars Align...Hockey Inside Out Summit 2016

    6 Comments by Pheebs888 Published on 11-13-2016 05:41 PM
    Being a huge Habs fans, my Christmas presents are rather often Montreal Canadiens themed and that's just fine by me! A couple of Christmases ago, my best mate from England sent me a book titled: 100 Things Canadiens Fans Should Know and Do Before they Die. It was a very good read, it had fun facts and little tidbits about the team but also suggestions of things to do. Item 21 was titled: Join a Gang. I'll admit I was intrigued by that header so I turned to the chapter and learnt all about Hockey Inside Out (formerly Habs Inside Out) which is essentially a website devoted to news about the Montreal Canadiens created by the Montreal Gazette in 2006. Through interactions on the website in the comments sections, some of the posters decided that it would be interesting to match the website handles to faces and created the Hockey Inside Out Summit. This is a weekend jam-packed of fun during which those dedicated fans travel from all over North-America and meet to take part in hockey themed activities and catch a game at the Bell Centre. The main organizer of the event, Ian Cobb, outdone himself this year and in early August, details about the upcoming season's Summit started to appear on Facebook. I had posted on the site a few times so I decided to give this Summit business a shot. I contacted Ian and asked for 2 game tickets. Each year, he takes advantage of the group sales offered by the Montreal Canadiens and this year, the November 12th game against the Red Wings was chosen.

    The weekend included much more than just the game though. On Friday, a meet and greet at the Best Western Europa hotel was scheduled for 4 PM onwards, the next morning there was a breakfast at the Cora Déjeuner restaurant which is on the ground floor of the hotel before going on a tour of the Bell Centre for a discounted price. Then, in the afternoon, there was a charity raffle in one of the hotel's meeting rooms before heading to the Bell Centre for a classic original 6 match-up against the Wings.

    As I was driving down to Montreal from Québec, I had decided to take the day off work and leave at midday to make sure I was on time for the meet and greet. A couple of hours before I was due to hit the road with the friend who had agreed to come with me, he called to say that he couldn't make it in the end because he was unable to take the afternoon off work. While I was rather disappointed, I didn't for a second entertain the thought of not going. I figured that there would be a lot of friends there in any case in a giant Habs fan gathering, so who cared if I turned up alone? I made arrangements so that another friend from Montreal would come and catch the game with me on Saturday night and I went on my merry way. I made good time and was able to check-in and settle in before going to the meeting hall. Only a few people had arrived when I got there, Ian the organizer and his wife and Mary McGill (whom I “knew” from the Facebook group WE ARE CANADIENS) and her husband. I introduced myself and then, something caught my eye...on a nearby table a Andrew Shaw signed jersey was laid out alongside a beautiful Montreal Canadiens team signed stick. I couldn't help myself and I belted out an “oh my god I want this stick!”. I was then told that former Canadiens player Réjean Houle had arranged for the Summit to have those items to raffle. To take part in the Charity raffle, each attendee had to bring a Canadiens themed gift which would be raffled up and then buy tickets for the draw. All proceeds would be donated to the Montreal Canadiens' Children's foundation, so I bought 3 raffle tickets for $40 because there's no time like the present even though the draw wouldn't take place until the next afternoon.





    The hall slowly started to fill out and I got to meet plenty of posters I had read online and some of their significant others too. After we had chatted away for a good couple of hours, the special speaker of the evening Kerry Goulet talked to us about concussions and their consequences. He told Keith Primeau's story and how the former Wings draft pick wouldn't quit on the Flyers even though he had suffered numerous concussions until a team doctor pulled the plug on him and wouldn't clear him to play. It's hard for those gladiators on skates to admit that they cannot play anymore, they do not want to be labelled as quitters or weak players but in the end, after the tears, Primeau thanked the doctor and created, along with Goulet, the website www.stopconcussions.com . It's important for us hockey fans to understand the serious issues that can be caused by concussions and to not take them lightly. If a player is smart enough to take brain injuries seriously, he should be celebrated and not belittled. “Summiters” paid attention to what Goulet had to say and once he was done, the animated chats started again around quite a few beverages.



    Being the early riser that I am, I was at Cora's at 6:15 the next morning and therefore had breakfast on my own before heading back to my room to spend some quality time with my new NES Classic before the scheduled Bell Centre tour. I've been to the Bell Centre for numerous games and even for a game on the press gallery courtesy of the defunct contest “The First Line to the Top” but I had yet to take the tour. We set off where the Canadiens Hall of Fame used to be underneath the pictures of all the members of the Montreal Canadiens' organization who have been inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame, from Joliat to Malone and the Richards they were all there and so were the builders such as Scotty Bowman and the now deceased Pat Burns. Looking around, I realized that people of all ages are Habs fans, as proved by the youngest fan of the group!





    We were hushed into a small room where we were showed a short movie which covered historic moments the team had experienced, from its inception in 1909 through the numerous Stanley Cups and its influence on the people of Montreal, everything was covered. A few players also explained what it meant to play for the Bleu Blanc Rouge while we were captivated by the screen. Our guide then took us up to the red seats surrounding the perfect ice sheet of the Bell Centre and he told us pretty much everything there is to know about the building before taking us to see one of the luxury loges. You know the ones, the little rooms which all have a bar built in along with a giant screen and some extra comfortable seats? We learnt that the businesses who rent those for 5 years pay a million dollars per year for the privilege and that there is a 5 years waiting list to be one of the lucky renters. The Habs keep a few loges for the team and the public can hire them for a “small fee” of $12 000. Fear not, at that price the food (tailgate type of finger food of course) is included and so are the drinks (unless you're a wine buff and you elect to go for an expensive bottle worth a couple of grand from their special cellar). He also told us a lot about season tickets and we learnt that out of the 21, 273 seats in the arena, 16,000 are taken by season tickets holders, no wonder it's so hard to score Habs tickets when the individual sales tickets open each season. We then headed to the press gallery on which the view is as impressive as I remembered it and we finally rounded up the tour by a passage into the former players lounge, the post game conference room and near the team's locker room. Unfortunately, as it was a game day, we couldn't get into the locker room. Nevertheless, it was an amazing experience and even an Habs obsessed fan as myself learnt new stuff.






    Most of us then headed to the team store Tricolore Sports to make the most of the 15% discount which comes with the guided tour ticket before grabbing some lunch and heading back to the hotel meeting Hall for the charity raffle. When I got there, I realized that it wasn't just Réjean Houle who had brought some amazing items! Amongst the prizes were also a Galchenyuk Winter Classic jersey, an Alexander Radulov jersey and one of those Black edition jerseys. My contribution looked rather rubbish next to those...being new to this I had only brought a Canadiens draft day hat...I made a mental not to step up my game next year. But an amazing surprise was yet to come, one of the Summiters donated a very special item, a Jean Beliveau autographed frame valued at around $1,200. My jaw dropped as I saw it and I made my way back to the ticket line to acquire some tickets for that monster item's special draw. I got 3 tickets for that draw as well and hoped for the best.



    The Beliveau raffle took place first and I didn't win it but hey, those were pretty slim odds to say the least! My disappointment didn't last long though as the draw for all the other items saw my ticket be picked first! That gave me the right to chose whichever prize I wanted from the table and that is how the amazing team signed stick which featured in my dreams the night before became mine. I was shaking as I lifted it up from the table and marvelled at all the autographs, Carey Price, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Alexander Radulov all my favorites were there alongside the signatures of their teammates. I've had my share of luck with draws but this is without a doubt the best prize I ever got. Once all the prizes had been won, people had dinner and headed to the Bell Centre hoping to see a couple of records be set that evening: the Canadiens were trying to establish a new team mark with a 10th consecutive home win to open the season while Carey Price was attempting to become the first goalie in NHL history to win his first 10 starts in a single season. Everything was in place for one amazing evening!



    Like all Habs fanatics, we got to our seats in time to see the warm up as Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah played in the hockey mecca to honour the great singer who died a few days ago. The Habs took the ice and looked fully energized to our great pleasure. Before the national anthems, both Cohen and Mr. Hockey were honoured by the team as it was the first time the Habs welcomed the Wings since Gordie Howe's passing. The capacity filled Bell Centre then applauded the national anthem singer and we were on our way. The Canadiens came out with a purpose and quickly took a one goal lead which was doubled not long after! They never looked back after that and roared to a 5-0 victory, establishing the two records we had all hoped for!



    As is the tradition to conclude the yearly Summit, most Summiters then headed to Hurley's to celebrate the win. I couldn't make it as I had to come back down to Quebec on the night and that proved something of a challenge in itself (stupid car battery and what feels today like a laryngitis) but I can confirm that next year, I shall attend the final celebration! A million thanks to the people who organized the event for an amazing experience which I will never forget!

    Last edited by Pheebs888; 11-13-2016 at 06:48 PM.

  2. Total Comments 6

    Comments

  3. #2
    Sounds like a great experience! Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the stick. Look at all those familiar autographs! Awesome.
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  4. #3
    As a fellow Habs fan I can only describe my thoughts on your situation with one word .... ENVIOUS!

    Congrats on your trip. Go Habs Go!

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  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by creasecollector View Post
    Sounds like a great experience! Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the stick. Look at all those familiar autographs! Awesome.
    Thanks it truly was awesome, gonna make it a yearly tradition I think!

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by pwskelly View Post
    As a fellow Habs fan I can only describe my thoughts on your situation with one word .... ENVIOUS!

    Congrats on your trip. Go Habs Go!
    lol thanks :) You should check out the site and consider coming to the summit next year, well worth it for Habs fans!

  7. #6
    My skin would burn if I was there! So unholy! haha.

    Glad to hear you had fun you die hard Habs fan!

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Dergula View Post
    My skin would burn if I was there! So unholy! haha.

    Glad to hear you had fun you die hard Habs fan!
    LOL I imagine that'd be my feeling in a Leafs fan gathering as well ;)

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