While most enjoy the lion’s share of the Montreal Canadiens’ 82 regular season NHL games from the comforts of their own couch, the excitement around the playoffs inspires a kind of citywide camaraderie which finds many Montrealers taking to downtown sports bars, comfortable pubs and hockey-mad neighbourhood hangouts to cheer on their beloved Habs en masse…
As big-screen downtown sports bars go, La Cage aux Sports is a mainstay with several locations on the island of Montreal, and a very popular annual promotion: eight free wings when the bleu, blanc et rouge score five or more goals. La Station des Sports doesn’t mess around, with dozens of screens cramming every available space at its two Sainte-Catherine Street locations (one east and one west). And if you’re the kind of person who wants to shoot a little pool during on-screen play, then the basement-dwelling cavern o’ fun Sharx might be just your pint of pool-hall fun.
Montreal’s pubs offer a more intimate, but no less boisterous, appreciation of the game, with guaranteed go-to spots like McKibbins Irish Pub (imaginative pub grub and live music following the fun on the ice), Hurley’s Irish Pub (where Habs players and team management are often known to gather post-game), Ziggy’s Pub (a favourite of local media types), and any of the three Ye Olde Orchard Pub Grills, favourites of food-, suds- and sports-loving Montrealers.
Character-filled Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood bars like Taverne Normand (raucous doesn’t even begin to describe the atmosphere), Chez Serge (a mechanical bull and dancing girls on the bar between periods… ’nuff said), and the long-serving Champs on Saint-Laurent Blvd. (a classic, old-school sports bar with a friendly and enthusiastic clientele to match) offer more authenticity than you can shake a hockey stick at.
With all this hockey talk, who wouldn’t want to go see the real thing, for free, in the city with the most storied hockey history in North America? Yes, we’re talking Montreal. World Junior Championship Canada is offering the ultimate in prize-packs for hockey fans: Two round-trip plane tickets to Montreal for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship (which sees some of the fastest, fiercest hockey that happens anywhere all year), seven nights’ hotel, two authentic Team Canada jerseys and $500 fun money. All you have to do is enter to score!
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