Results 1 to 2 of 2
03-23-2017, 10:54 AM #1
Club 1909 Contest Creates a Night to Remember
Club 1909 Contest Creates a Night to Remember
by Richard McAdam
Earlier this year, the Montreal Canadiens teamed up with Coca-Cola to deliver a unique and exciting contest that would create an experience for die-hard fans of the team. Titled “Capture the Feeling,” fans were asked to submit a photo of themselves decked out in their bleu-blanc-rouge gear and holding a Coke product. Randomly-selected winners would receive two tickets to one of ten Canadiens home games and have their image featured on the Bell Centre boards as the “Coca-Cola Fan of the Game.”
As with many Canadiens fan initiatives, this contest was run through their Club 1909 fan club. Approved submissions would receive 100 rewards points that can be used to redeem for exclusive rewards and experiences that money can’t buy. All of this added up to me to be a great reason to enter—even if I wasn’t selected, I would still rack up some extra points for a future redemption for yet another great item like the Alexander Radulov game-used stick piece card or the Carey Price signed playoffs signage that I had recently redeemed for on my account.
Rather than hastily snap a selfie that would have weird lighting or something lurking in the background, I collaborated with my lovely wife to get a proper photo done for my submission. We went outside and took several photos in front of the garage, which gave an easy back-drop in case they had to do any Photoshop work, featuring me in a variety of cheering and exciteable poses. Ultimately, this was the chosen pic for the submission:
It was within a day or two that I got notice that my photo had been approved and the points added to my account. I honestly thought that would be the end of it for me. I knew it was a great photo (given the subject matter) but the contest was random so having a great shot meant just as good a chance as a dimly-lit, reversed image selfie. Plus, it was for a home game in Montreal, which is quite a long distance from beautiful Kelowna, BC.
Then came the morning of February 7th. Another dull Tuesday in a seemingly interminable winter. I was at the office working away when all of a sudden my phone rang. Display showed a 514 area code, which is Montreal; I figured it would be either the Canadiens about a recent Club 1909 order or the Liberal Party. Such is my life. I answered, and a nice man named Eugene introduced himself and asked if I had as yet received my Carey Price playoffs billboard. I knew threw Twitter and the Habs social media family that a few people had recently received theirs of other players, but no, mine had not yet arrived. He quickly pivoted and let me know the great news: I had been chosen as a winner of the Capture the Feeling Contest for the March 14th game against the Chicago Blackhawks!
As you can imagine, I was an immediate mix of ecstatic and thrilled! Getting to see an Original Six matchup at the Bell Centre is really a special experience—I’ve seen them play the Leafs there before and it was a very special night. Throw in that the Habs and Hawks are two of the top teams in the NHL and both are fighting for division crowns, and this would have all the makings of being an incredible affair. Oh, and I was already going to see the Habs on March 7th in Vancouver so that would make it two games in the span of a week! It’s not quite the 30-in-30 that some fans are able to pull off, but wow this was all setting up to be a great time.
One week earlier, in Vancouver!
Eugene and I quickly got everything confirmed, and then my wife and I got sorted as far as our travel and hotel plans. Flying cross-Canada west-to-east is always a struggle; if you leave early in the day, you basically lose the day because of the time and time zones. Sure enough any morning flights would have seen us arrive in Montreal at around 5pm, leaving almost no time for other activities before the game and no margin for error in terms of traffic. So it was the red eye: leave Kelowna overnight and arrive in Montreal early the day of the game. That would allow us almost a whole day for activities in the big city.
As we got closer and closer to the day of the experience, I was in regular contact with Eugene and it seemed like each time we spoke the whole thing got even better! I learned that our seats would be in the lower bowl so that they could film me to put me on the jumbotron, there would be a gift card waiting for me for the Tricolore Sports store, and that the team was going to give each of us a new jersey! Talk about over the moon excitement! I was also talking with fans on social media who had won the contest and they said they had an absolutely amazing time, plus they told me that they move the banner on the boards around during intermissions. For the first period it would be behind Carey Price’s net, and the second and third periods it would be on the boards in front of the visiting team bench. That’s some pretty good visibility!
As it happened, during the run-up to the game, my local card store, Players Choice Sports, was holding an autograph session with Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull. This was part of National Hockey Card Day, and it really made for a great day. I was helping out the store with the signing, and during the time with him I told him about my upcoming experience and he was so excited when he was talking about how he regularly gets to see Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and the rest of the team. Hearing that got me excited to see those guys! The Hawks really do have a powerhouse club, with a lot of the NHL’s very best players. Getting to see them play was a great bonus to the experience—probably a tougher game but certainly much more exciting than getting to see one of the lower-ranked teams. It for sure adds something when you not only want to see your favourite team, but also a team that you’ve got a lot of respect for in recognition of all their success.
In the days before the trip I was checking the weather reports and getting a little concerned about what I saw. There was a lot of talk about snow, and it soon became clear that it was going to be a pretty nasty voyage—the forecasters were calling for upwards of 30cm of snow and some heavy winds. As we were getting ready, I got a phone call from Westjet that a portion of our flight had to be re-arranged because of the snowstorm that was especially pounding Toronto. Instead of Kelowna > Edmonton > Toronto > Montreal on a red-eye schedule, we ended up doing Kelowna > Edmonton > Winnipeg > Montreal and arriving shortly after 2pm, just as the storm was really picking up in Montreal. This meant losing about 5-6 hours of quality tourist time, and made for a rather nasty trek to the Bell Centre from our hotel. The snow was literally coming in sideways and there was no place to hide from it. Instead of stopping for photos in Centennial Plaza with the statues of the Canadiens legends, we pretty much bolted straight for the box office and took refuge indoors.
Once at the box office, I told them who I was and they gave us our tickets and the boutique gift card. Surprise! We were in the 8th row of the lower bowl, on the blue line where the Habs would be attacking twice! Wow! These were prime seats at a prime game; I think I was so happy that it literally melted away any snow that remained on my person from the trek outside. We made our way to the store for some merchandise shopping; I’ve needed a new hat for a while so that was nice to grab off the wall—there was a lot of choice available! I also got the NHL 100 logo added to my Shea Weber #6 jersey, itself a Christmas present from my lovely wife.
I should make mention at this point about adding Club 1909 points—there are opportunities everywhere at games to collect! From the check-in kiosk to the store to any food & beverage purchase, there are Club 1909 machines everywhere for you to scan your card. With all the things I have signed up for (including Carey’s Army, where I get points for every save Carey makes during a game) I must have added several hundred points from the trip. Just one more great perk of being a fan!
So we are inside, we’ve got new gear from the store, we’ve got a fresh beverage, what’s more to do but go into the rink and look for my banner on the boards? Plenty, it turns out! Bell has a cool mini-locker room set up where you can get your photo taken with the jerseys of Roy, Richard, and Lafleur. The Montreal Canadiens Foundation has a station with auction and raffle items, and also sells mystery autographed pucks. I had heard about these and the potential for hitting a gold puck that comes with a bonus item, and decided to get one. Then Tasha decided I needed an early birthday present so she got one for me too. We held on to them for a while and decided we should go into the arena to look at everything and get ready for the game.
For me, seeing the Canadiens at home is as close to a pilgrimage as I’ll ever undertake in life. Montreal is the Mecca of hockey, and the Bell Centre is its cathedral. Seeing that beautiful logo at centre ice, the banners celebrating the greatest players and the 24 Stanley Cups hanging from the rafters, with Diane Bibeau on the organ...that’s my idea of heaven on Earth. Look to your right, there’s your face directly behind Carey Price’s net!! Not off to the corner a little bit, but right behind him! There’s something symbolic about that...I’ve been figuratively behind Carey for his entire career, so it seems fitting that on this night, that of his 500th career NHL game, I would be literally behind him.
On the big board just before the game started – Mr. 500!
(Photo Courtesy: Canadiens de Montreal)
After taking a couple pictures of the banner, we made our way to our seats so that we could open up our mystery pucks. Would you believe it—both of them were gold! The pucks themselves were of Torrey Mitchell and Paul Byron, not exactly the biggest names but how about this: they were the goal scorers in the Habs’ game against the Canucks that I had seen only a week before! That’s some kind of crazy mojo! After the players come out and did their warm-ups, we headed back out in the foyer to Section 103 to claim the prizes, which were an autographed hat and an autographed t-shirt. The hat was Andrei Markov, and the t-shirt was...Carey Price! I honestly don’t think a Hollywood script writer could have devised these outcomes if they were writing the feel-good story of the year.
My total haul from the night. Pretty good time at the good ole hockey game!
As we continued to wander throughout the concourse, we noticed a small group of people clustered around a large orange furry creature, all happily snapping photos. You kidding me? We ran into Youppi! the beloved mascot of the Montreal Expos that the Canadiens “adopted” after the team relocated to Washington several years ago. One of those things that you can only get to do when you’re in Montreal so of course we got into the small line of people to get our photo done. Just ahead of us were a couple of kids in Blackhawks jerseys, and Youppi! did the only appropriate thing by covering up the logos on their jerseys with his monstrous paws. Ha!
After all of this, it was finally game time. I snuck in a quick Facebook post that I think really summed up how I was feeling at this stage: “Game hasn't even started yet and I'm already having the best time.” I’m not going to give the play-by-play or a detailed recap of all the action. The sports shows do a much better job than I could at that, and they also provide video. we both received a new home team jersey, which was somewhat expected when Eugene asked me a couple days before the trip what size we wear...all the same, a tremendous gesture! There was also the video cameraman standing nearby ready to film me to put me up on the jumbotron! I went through a range of excited cheers and chants and faces, all for the entertainment of the crowd! No pressure!
Go Habs Go!
It was a pretty frustrating night on the ice, as the Hawks stormed out to a 3-0 lead and even a highly spirited comeback by the Canadiens couldn’t even the score. It was a particularly difficult night for defenceman Alexei Emelin, as he committed a number of costly mistakes, all of which seemed to end up with the puck behind Carey Price. There was a lot of mumbling and grumbling in the not-so-cheap seats surrounding us about his performance, which came on the heels of coach Claude Julien making Nathan Beaulieu a healthy scratch for the night. That poor effort left Emelin in the press box for the Habs’ next game.
My banner also moved after the first period; instead of haunting Corey Crawford in period two, my image was now in front of the Blackhawks’ bench, which happened to be directly across from where I was sitting. So I had a great perspective of my smiling face without even looking to a mirror! Very cool—at this time I was hoping that there would be some great action in the neutral zone so that the professional photographers would get an epic action shot with me in the background. It could end up being my Sylvain Turgeon / Patrick Kane moment with Upper Deck!
When the team is down, the Bell Centre can be relatively quiet. But once they got the first goal things started to come back to life. Then Shea Weber uncorked one of his patented slapshots from the right point and the place was about to come unglued! It took until late in the third period but there were some very loud and prolonged “Go Habs Go!” chants as we tried to will our team to tie the game. They came close with a goal-mouth scramble and some pressure with the net empty, but it was not meant to be. The great Jonathan Toews iced the game with an empty-netter and the Hawks won the game 4-2.
Shea Weber’s 16th of the season brought the Bell Centre to life!
Despite the loss, this was nothing short of an amazing night. Not even 50cm of snow and insane wind gusts could frost my spirits. I’d just witnessed two of the best teams in the NHL square off in hockey’s greatest arena, at which I was part of the show itself in my own small way. The treatment from the Canadiens was absolutely first-class in every facet, from the excellent seats to the gifts and one other thing that I’m not quite ready to share just yet. I’m so proud to be a fan of this hockey team; I’m sure that the nine other winners of this contest will have an incredible time in their own right, and there’s so many other great things the Club does for its members. Truly a memorable night, and all the more reason that even if you’re a casual Habs fan, Club 1909 is the best!
03-23-2017, 08:05 PM #2
wow thats so awesome !!!!Super Collecting Marian Hossa