Religion of the Montreal Canadiens offered as University Course
Anyone who grew up in Montreal would have just known this to be the case. To go to the Montreal Forum in the late 70's to watch the likes of Lafleur, Shutt, Dryden and Robinson may have been as close to the awe felt in some of the worlds great cathedrals and people in the "New World" would ever get.
MONTREAL - Quebec's century-long bond to the Montreal Canadiens has been called passion, and even obsession. Now a university theologian has branded it as religion.
The Swiss-born Universite de Montreal professor said the ubiquitous relics and rituals linked to the Habs struck him when he arrived in the city a few years ago.
The similarities prompted Olivier Bauer to launch a crusade - in the form of a university course - to explore the many ties between a team that hails its sweater as La Sainte Flanelle - or holy flannel - and spiritual devotion.
"It was a divine inspiration," Bauer said of the idea for his new French-language class, the Religion of the Canadiens.
"It was clear that the Canadiens were a kind of religion. For me, it was amazing that in Montreal there was a hockey jersey that is holy."
On the days leading up to the All-Star Game in Montreal and the Centennial Celebrations, it would be good to put the role of the Canadiens into perspective. Though the All-Star Game itself will be dominated by a one-size-fits-all pre-packaged NHL branding campaign, it would be good to remember that, in Quebec, it's more than a slick (or slick-ish) video montage of the history of the Habs can capture. This is the city that was set ablaze when one of its favorite sons was suspended during the playoffs.