There are sports memories before it, all impersonal experiences.
I vaguely remember the earthquake in the 89 World Series in Oakland. I certainly remember getting up early before school to watch the VHS my mom recorded of Jordan (and the Bulls) beating the Lakers in 91, and I definitely remember the 93 Cup winning Montreal Canadiens.
That 93 Habs team is where it really began.
Local hero, Vermonter John Leclair, coming out of nowhere and scoring two overtime goals during their magical cup run. Great Canadian names like Guy Carbonneau and Jean-Jacques Daigneault. Hell, the team’s coaches that year were both called Jacques; Head Coach Jacques Demers, and Assistant Coach, Canadiens legend, Jacques Laperriere. That team was special to kid me.
Growing up on the Canadian border, French Canadian culture was a sort of normal thing for me.
Every Christmas Eve growing up I ate Tourtière (Meat Pie), and poutine was a way of life. I was fully on the bandwagon with that 93 Habs team, following them in the local newspaper (remember that was a thing?) and staying up late watching them in French on this shitty black and white TV that came from who-knows-where. I even started playing the sport that winter as well. Maybe that team was the moment, but looking back at that time in my life, one night, March 19th, 1994 is The Moment.
That night for 12-year-old me, was Fucking Amazing.
It was an eye-opening experience, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was the night I went to my first professional hockey game. Eight-months off from winning that magical Stanley Cup in the summer of 93, I got for my birthday, tickets to go see that Montreal Canadiens team in Montreal.
That night in March was like every other March in Montreal; damp cold, and with not a hint of Spring to be found. This wasn’t just any Saturday night hockey game in Montreal though, NO, this Saturday night in March, le bleu-blanc-rouge faced their bitter provincial rivals the Quebec Nordiques. For those of you not familiar with hockey, or maybe too young to remember, you know that team in Colorado with that big A on their sweater? Yeah the one where Ray Bourque finally got his (only) Stanley Cup, yeah they used to the Nordiques. Anyways, it was a big event up in the Quebec Province.
There I am, with my father, making our way into the Montreal Forum to see my first live sporting event, surrounded by what seems like an endless sea of drunken, chain-smoking rabid hockey fans, slowly shuffling to the entrance. The Forum at the time was in its 70th year of existence. The Forum had been home to 24 Stanley Cups, it was as they say a proper hockey barn. We made our way slowly, up and up, and up and up to the nosebleeds. Up where the air was literally second-hand smoke and championship banners. The rafters had a ring of smoke a circling it, smoking was allowed in the Forum at that time, and people took advantage of it.
There was no million dollar
No Coldplay (thankfully) musical hype video, nothing more than some organ music, the Canadian Anthem, and crowd noise for the pre-game hype. My memory of the game is mostly vague, I couldn’t tell you who scored, or how. What I can tell you is that I remember The Moment. The moment when Lyle Odeline, a brute of a defenseman, started a fight in the 3rd period. He ripped the jersey off David Karpa a Nordiques defender and pummeled him mercilessly. The Moment as Odelien skated to the penalty box victorious, as the home crowd absolutely lost their ever-loving minds. This Was It.
That video doesn’t do it justice, but I was hooked! Not just on hockey, but on sport in general. The raw emotion, the feeling of one swelling beast reaching heights of excitement I have never experienced before. The Moment happened to me that night and I have never been the same since.
What was your Moment?