Habs Suck!


Montreal Junior Canadiens

Arena Name: Montreal Forum
Capacity: 17,959
Built: 1924
Address: 2313 Ste. Catherine St. West, Montreal, Quebec, H3H 1N2
Telephone No: (514) 93-FORUM
Last OHL Game: 1972
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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OHL
Montreal Forum
Montreal Forum
What was the Arena Like?
I never saw a game at the Montreal Forum, which is one of the great regrets of my childhood. I remember watching Hockey Night in Canada as a kid and watching the awful, awful Harold Ballard Leafs of the 80's being blown away all the time by those Habs. Les Habitants. The smuggest fans in the NHL, complacent in winning all the time. I hated the Habs, I hated their arena, I hated their logo which always looked to me to be grinning, as if it knew that the arrogant kids at school which followed the Habs would be rubbing another Habs victory in us Leaf fans' faces the next day.

By the mid-1990's I started recognising the Forum for what it was - a relic of another age. The history in that building was unbelievable. Here was the very ice where the great Frenchmen played. Their nicknames, names like the Pocket Rocket and the Chicoutimi Cucumber and the Flower. Here was where Clarence Campbell was tear-gassed in 1955, jumpstarting Québecois nationalism and giving the Duplessis era in Quebec politics one great big kick in the teeth. The organist played and the well-dressed, smug Quebeckers cheered and you realised that the mystique of the Habs was something that no other team could ever match, least of all one called the Lightning.

And then it all seemed to happen at once. King Patrick demanded a trade and the Forum closed and the wheels began to fall off the wagon, and all of a sudden you notice that the Canadiens are playing in a cavernous aircraft hanger of a building loved by no one, and that their best player is not a Roy or a Vézina or a Richard or a Lafleur or a Béliveau, but a Finn named Saku Koivu who gives the impression that, all things being equal, he'd rather be in Finland. And you realise that no matter how much you hated the Montreal Canadiens as a kid, it's not fair that this had to happen to them. The very emblem of Quebec, the most important cultural symbol in French Canada, is all of a sudden just another franchise, playing out of a building named for a dour Scotsman from Brantford, Ontario. La fierté toujours, indeed.

The Forum is gone forever now, and so are the ghosts that inhabited it. It was a tiny, compact building in the heart of downtown Montreal, homely from the outside in its aluminium siding. Inside, it will always be the centre of the hockey traumas of my youth, the place where the downtrodden Franceschettis and Vaives met their demise over and over and over again. There will never be another one like it.

If you have memories from the Montreal Forum, you can contribute by emailing Email.
Arena History
There is an excellent Forum history at http://www.ballparks.com/.

How To Get There

The Montreal Forum is located at the corner of Ste. Catherine and Atwater Streets in the western part of downtown Montreal.
From Autoroute 720: Take exit number 3 toward Guy St. Turn left onto St Marc St. Turn left onto Réné Levesque Blvd. Turn right onto Atwater St. The Forum will be at the corner of Atwater and Ste Catherine St.
Subway: Atwater stop.
Inside the Montreal Forum
Montreal Forum
What's it Used For Today?
Back in the formative days of the OHA, junior teams were affiliated with pro clubs. The Kitchener Rangers are the only remnant of those days in today's OHL, but back in the 1960's there were teams like the Hamilton Red Wings, and the St Catharines Black Hawks, plus the Oshawa Generals played in uniforms modelled after their parent Boston Bruins, and the London Knights (then called the London Nationals) wore the blue and white maple leaf designed by their parent club in Toronto. The Montreal Junior Canadiens fit into that. These were the days before the founding of the QMJHL, and it made perfect sense that there would be an OHA team in Montreal at the time. With the coming of the QMJHL, the Junior Canadiens transferred into that league. The players on the Junior Habs were given the choice of whether they wanted to play in the Q the next year or to be transferred into the O; the only one who chose to remain in Ontario was defenseman Ian Turnbull, who signed with the Ottawa 67's. The Junior Habs began play in the Q as the Montreal Bleu Blanc et Rouge, and one year later, the "dormant" Montreal franchise was "resurrected" as the Kingston Canadians (today's Frontenacs) but the new team had nothing at all in common with the old Quebec team, which is today the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

The Forum was closed in a gala ceremony in 1996 as the Habs left for the last time. The Forum sat empty for a year before being converted into - of all things - a movie theatre/entertainment centre. A lot of Habs memorabilia is still around, and the centre ice dot has been preserved in the main lobby, as have many seats and other relics from the old building. It's worth a look if you're ever in Montreal, especially to look up at the old ceiling and see the hook from which the old scoreclock hung still preserved. Today you can go bowling at the Montreal Forum, which seems to suit Montreal fans fine, as the only sport the Habs have been any good at lately is golf.

Feedback

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at Email and I'll update the guide.


 

 


Copyright © Kevin Jordan 2002-07.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: May 29, 2007