MONTREAL, QC.– In a world that seems to be talking about tragedy more than celebrating victories it can seem next to impossible to find the light. I found it Saturday night, at a hockey game.
Following the attacks in Paris, I was having too many conversations with friends about fear. The fear that it could’ve happened anywhere, that it could’ve happened to us and that it could happen again. It’s easy to walk into a place like the Bell Centre the day after something like this and be afraid. Security is heightened, large groups of people rushing in different directions, loud noises and an uneasy feeling in the air that we all know; tonight the world feels different. It’s when the lights go out and the entire place erupts with the sights and sounds that you can only find at this venue, the unparalleled feelings of celebration, of overwhelming pride and of a strong sense of community, that you feel yourself start to relax and to feel somewhat normal.
My absolute favourite thing about the opening of a home game at the Bell Centre are when two young skaters take a half lap around the ice carrying Canadiens flags and greet the players with a glove tap as they emerge from the dressing room and take the ice, it gives me chills every. single. time. Saturday night those chills were magnified beyond measure when one of the children emerged waving the France flag. I can’t begin to try to put into words how I felt in that moment but I do know that I felt better. The small, but powerful, sign of solidarity was followed by a moment of silence observed for those in Paris and the sounds of the France national anthem.
While some people might argue that Montreal hockey and it’s fans are too intense, that we take our pride in this team way beyond any normal measure, however, I cannot think of anywhere I would have rather been the day after something so tragic, even despite a 6-1 loss. It’s more than winning or losing it’s about giving people something to believe in.
It’s strange because last time I attended a home game at the Bell Centre was in October 2014, the Habs were playing the New York Rangers for the first time since ‘the incident’ with Carey Price in the Eastern Conference Finals the season prior– it was also the first game since Cpl. Nathan Cirillo had been mercilessly shot in Ottawa. I stood amongst 21,000 people in the arena that day and sang the Canadian national anthem in tandem with those in attendance at the Leafs game in Toronto and at the Sens game in Ottawa. I felt the same way in that moment as I did on Saturday night– like the world would find it’s footing again and someway, somehow we would all come together and try to rediscover the beauty in the world, that we wouldn’t be afraid.