Travel Blog

12 Nov

Scoring with Montréal’s historic hockey hotspots

Anyone paying even an iota of attention right now knows that Montréal is (again) a hotbed of hockey action, and not just courtesy of the smokin’ season-opening play of the Montreal Canadiens. Though that, too.

The upcoming World Junior Hockey Championship, the 100th anniversary celebrations of the NHL, and the imminent arrival of the popular Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour (November 12-13) are all part of the equation. And so is this city’s supersized love of the sport and their team, which can perhaps be better understood by visiting many of the places where Montréal’s crazy hockey heart beats, both historically and as modern monuments to the game. So let’s begin at the beginning…

victoria_rinkThe very first recorded hockey game (i.e., one that had rules that players more-or-less stuck to) on an indoor rink was played in downtown Montréal in 1875 at the Victoria Skating Rink. Though the rink, once located between Drummond and Stanley streets south of Sainte-Catherine Street, is now a parking garage, its former 10,000-square-foot ice surface became the standard for hockey rinks.

8h35 et le Quad Windsor est vide… C’est congé! Bonne Fête du travail! It’s 8:35 AM and the Quad Windsor is empty. We’re off! Happy Labour day! #fetedutravail #yul #Montreal #congé #LabourDay #QuadWindsor #lundi #monday #mtlmoments #514

Une photo publiée par Quad Windsor (@quad_windsor) le 5 Sept. 2016 à 13h33 PDT

Also in 1875, just one block over and a few blocks south of the Victoria Rink, construction was beginning on the Windsor Hotel (now Le Windsor Ballrooms), considered to be the first “grand hotel” in Canada. It was here, in one of its restaurants, that the professional National Hockey League (NHL) was founded 100 years ago in 1917.

The Montréal Forum was the epicentre of the city’s hockey history for 70 years, from 1926-’96. Referred to as “the most storied building in hockey,” the city’s beloved Montréal Canadiens (or “Habs”) won 24 Stanley Cups there. It’s been repurposed as an entertainment complex that pays tribute to its previous life: fans can sit in original Forum seats and have their picture taken with a statue of hockey hero Maurice “The Rocket” Richard. And if there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in Montréal, it’s statues of Rocket Richard.

Forum-625x400In Montréal, hockey is a religion and the legendary #9, Maurice Richard, is for all intents and purposes a deity. Richard played for the Habs from 1942-’60, was the first player in the NHL to pot 500 goals and won eight Stanley Cups. The larger-than-life bronze statue Hommage à Maurice Richard pays tribute to the larger-than-life player at the entrance to the Maurice-Richard Arena in the city’s Olympic Park.

An even larger-than-larger-than-life monument to The Rocket, appropriately titled Never Give Up, can be found tucked away in the Complexe Les Ailes shopping centre on Ste. Catherine Street in the heart of downtown Montréal.

The Rocket has also been celebrated recently in a mural on the side of Italian restaurant La Molisana in the Ahuntsic district of Montréal, close to his childhood home on Rue Péloquin. It depicts a road hockey game (The Rocket loved his shinny) and was created by the A’Shop graf and street art team, whose work can also be seen at the MURAL urban art festival.

Final pic of the #MauriceRichardMural by @zek156 with help by @dodo_ose . This magnificient picture (as well as the other pics of this project) was taken by our multi-talented omnipotent artist photographer, mr @oneankh . Thanks to everyone who helped out on this project, @bombingsci and @fordquebec , it is appreciated! #canadiensmontreal #HabsFans #GoHabsGo #NousSommesHockey

Une photo publiée par A’ Shop (@ashopcrew) le 29 Oct. 2015 à 7h07 PDT

If anyone deserves a giant statue, a giant among men like Jean Béliveau does. The Habs captain (a team record 10 times) and 17-time Stanley Cup winner is considered one of the greatest players of all time. “Gentleman Jean” is memorialized in style at the Colisée Jean-Béliveau in Longueuil on Montréal’s South Shore near where he grew up.

Not to be outdone, Habs goaltending great and Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden (with six of Lord Stanley’s Cups) has been immortalized with a sculpture in his honour on the metro level of the Ste. Catherine Street shopping centre Place Montréal Trust. It is, fittingly, titled The Goalie.

1840 Jean-Talon E. Kitchen open until 2am

Une photo publiée par Burger Bar (@dilallos) le 23 Oct. 2016 à 4h35 PDT

Mile End makes bagels, Little Italy makes coffee and apparently southwest Montréal neighbourhood Ville-Émard makes pro hockey players and managers. Mario Lemieux, Jean-Jacques Daigneault and current Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin all played together on the Ville- Émard Hurricanes in the late-’70s. If you’re at all curious to know what that era was like, go no further than Dilallo Burger, which is as loaded with wall-hung hockey nostalgia as its burgers are with juicy beefy goodness.

Une institution de Montréal ✂️ – – – – – #vsco #vscocam #vscodaily #vscogood #vscogrid #iphone #iphoneonly #iphoneography #urban #urbanexploration #igers #ig #igersdaily #explore #artofvisuals #exploreeverything #montreal #montrealjetaime #menick #igmontreal #igersmontreal

Une photo publiée par Kath.d (@kath.poirot) le 30 Août 2016 à 13h11 PDT

On the topic of shrines, the old-school Salon Barbier Ménick in the Rosemont district has played barbershop to the hockey stars for generations, counting icons like Guy Lafleur as regulars. The beloved barbershop institution, with its reams of baseball and hockey memorabilia and photos – its floor is designed to resemble a hockey rink – is a veritable temple to Montréal sports.

#montreal #henrihenri #hat #color #mens #menswear #fashion #oldschool #institution

Une photo publiée par Jean-Pierre Desnoyers (@ethan037) le 12 Mars 2016 à 10h20 PST

And the heads of hockey gods weren’t solely given the royal treatment at Ménick’s. From 1950-’70, Ste. Catherine Street East hat makers Henri Henri bestowed a free hat on players who scored three or more goals in a game at the Forum, thus inspiring the expression “hat trick.” The expression and the store are still very much alive.

CentreBellExterieur-625x400And just in case you hadn’t had quite enough of Habs statues yet, during the Canadiens 100th anniversary celebrations in 2008-’09, four more of them were installed outside the hockey club’s home ice, the Bell Centre. Represented are aforementioned legends Béliveau and Lafleur, Howie Morenz… and, yes, Rocket Richard.

Up next:10 things you need to know about the World Juniors


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