Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HabsInsideOut’s Third Annual Summit a Big Success

P1050433This past weekend, members of the Montreal Gazette's HabsInsideOut community converged on Montreal for the annual Fan Summit.

Approximately 75 fans got together, over the weekend, for a variety of activities over the three days.

Myself and my fiancé Georgia made the trek down the 401/Autoroute 20 corridor on Friday night and arrived at our hotel around dinner time.

The weekend's first activity was a dinner/get together at Hurley's Irish Pub to take in the Capitals/Canadiens game.

We arrived to find the large screen area relatively empty but joined my friend, and author, Todd Denault for dinner. We then learned the rest of the crew was in the bar area of the pub where the small screens were. Go figure.

During dinner I recognized Philippe and Gabrielle, a couple I had met at last year's post game get together, who had walked in. With dinner over, the five of us went to join the rest of the group to watch the remainder of the game.

For Georgia, this was a totally new experience.

She is not much of a hockey fan (ok she is NOT a hockey fan) and most of her family are fans of the Blue and White.

Dragging her out for a weekend in the greatest hockey city in the world with some die-hard fans, would be a challenge for her and for her to find out how much of a “hockey nerd” I really am.

During the game we worked our way around saying hello to some familiar HIO faces and meeting some new ones along the way.

It’s always nice to finally put a face to people you only know as “Saku’s Evil Twin”, “Showey”, “Punkster”, HardHabits, etc.

After a Canadiens victory, and celebration Friday night, we headed back to the hotel.

Saturday started with a fantastic breakfast at Chez Cora's and followed by a tour of the Bell Centre, but not before an unusual encounter.


The HIO Clown Incident: After breakfast we had about 20-30 minutes to kill so many waited outside the restaurant for some chit-chat or, in the case of some, to have a smoke.

With the Montreal Santa Claus parade on, we encountered a group of Shriners clowns.

It was rather amusing to watch as HIO member "Jason M" pinned himself against the wall as he has an apparent phobia of clowns.

The first group departed quietly, but one of the clowns in the second group pointed at Todd and referred to his Canadiens jersey as "wearing a toilet seat". Todd appeared more puzzled than any of us and the John Ferguson in me wanted to flatten the loud mouth.

Can you see the headlines now????

Clowns dealt with, we made our way to the Bell Centre. After a quick self-guided tour of the Centennial Plaza we met our guide Tanya Formagie for the tour.

P1050391 “Jason M” finds relief in a giant vodka bottle, near the Bell Centre, after our encounter with the Shriners clowns.

The team had already finished their pre-game skate by the time the tour began. Personally, I was disappointed to have missed what would be Guillaume Latendresse’s last pre-game skate (inside joke), but we did manage to see some of the Red Wings during the visit to the press gallery.


Tanya showed us the Alumni Lounge, Canadiens Hall of Fame area (a newer addition is in the works), the Players Wives room and the lodge/suite level areas. A small number of attendees took turns posing for photos in the press room as well.

Robert Lefevbre from HabsEyesOnThePrize caught up with us mid-tour after being delayed by parade traffic on his way in Saturday morning.

The group closed out the tour in the gift shop and we also perused through the used equipment sale that was going on.

I was interested in the goalie equipment and though a good deal, I wasn't prepared to fork over $900 for a used set of Carey Price's practice pads. I did see someone walk out earlier with one of his smashed goal sticks.

P1050412 High end Habs Centennial stemware for on the lodge level of the Bell Centre. $250 for a set of whiskey tumblers!

With some time to kill, the group went their separate ways before our pregame meal and raffle for the Gainey Foundation.

Watching the Santa Clause parade, stopping for a beverage, shopping, relaxing in the hotel or visiting "other establishments" were amongst the list of activities later reported.

The group reassembled at Baton Rouge for a dinner and raffle in support of the Gainey Foundation was held. Several HIO summiteers broguht donations that included books, autographed photos and sticks, a pair of tickets to an upcoming Canadiens game and two excellent hockey card collections.

One of the card lots was a massive collection of Wayne Gretzky items that Robert Lefevbre had donated the previous year. Last year’s winner, Keith Bockus, graciously re-donated it this year and the 2009 winner said he will keep the tradition going.

The second card lot was a 1953-54 Parkhurst set donated by Fred Sherington. Guess who got that with their pick of the prize lots?

Georgia and I were very excited to realize that it was still available as a third pick in the prize lot. I will be researching into the set more and what makes it more of value is the collector book that came with the cards.

P1050426 Dave Stubbs visits with Tim and Sherrie at The Baton Rouge

The Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs stopped in to pay the group a visit during the raffle as did Canadiens Alumni director Rejean Houle, who shook hands, posed for photos and signed autographs.

The raffle raised $1150 for the Gainey Foundation. All the prize donors and those who participated are to be commended for their generosity to a great cause.

P1050428 Rejean Houle and myself, take two, photo one was deleted…lol

Summit organizer Ian Cobb has already forwarded the good news to Anna Gainey and has likely sent the bank draft to the foundation as you read this.

It was then time to hit the Bell Centre to enjoy the Canadiens/Red Wings game.

The Habs went down 2-0 early to the Wings and the home crowd were a bit concerned after two periods but stayed optimistic.

Mike Cammalleri led the charge back for the Canadiens and the home team took it to a shootout before falling 3-2.

Everyone felt it was a moral victory for the injury plagued Habs to walk away with a point from the always tough Red Wings.

The post-game festivities worked their way back to Hurley’s where more conversation and camaraderie continued.

We were then joined by the Gazette’s Pat Hickey and Mike Boone, as well as CJAD’s play-by-play man Rick Moffat and some of his crew.

P1050440 CJAD’s Rick Moffat (r) stops by and gets a Carey Price shirt from an HIO member.

It was quite exciting to raise a pint, mingle and talk hockey with some of the guys who travel and cover the Canadiens every day of the season.

As Saturday night blended into Sunday morning, many of us said our good-byes to our good friends and to another Summit.

A few managed to meet at Eggspectations for Sunday breakfast, but most were already making their way home by mid morning, ourselves included.

It certainly is amazing to see how what started as a small group three seasons ago has truly turned into not just a group of fans getting together, but more as a family of friends.

This event could no way have happened without recognizing the hard work of Ian Cobb, who practically put this year’s Summit together singlehandedly from start to finish.

Assists go out to Sherrie and Tim (the dragonflies) for getting the name tags put together, and to Suulamen (sp?) a.k.a “Big Bird” who made a special request to ensure the group tickets were together in one area this year.

Can’t wait to do it all again in 2010. I wonder if Todd will donate his Laraque photo next year? ;)

As for Georgia?, well a picture says a thousand words!

P1050425 Love you, honey!


Andrew Berkshire said...

Great read Kevin! What an excellent weekend, can't wait to do it again!

Anonymous said...

That was a lot of fun guys!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post.Look forward to seeing you both again.
Fred Sherrington