The best game you can name

This is the fifth of my “Advent Calendar” Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I’m challenging myself to complete it, see here. Note: it’s entirely possible some of these memories are inexact, but I’m sticking with them anyway.

Hockey jersey from local New Brunswick team

Hockey doesn’t feel real here. Sure, there are tons of loyal Capitals fans around, judging by the personalized license plates, but this isn’t a hockey town the way Montreal is. I miss my Canadiens. I miss listening to the games in French, and I miss watching them with my brother.

We loved making jokes out of the players’ names. Plekanec was one of my favorites. Good ol’ Pleck-a-Neck. Zednik and Kostitsyn were pretty good too, because of the high consonant concentration. And when the team gives you someone with a name like Bouillon, they’re asking you to have fun with it. If he looked strong during a game, he was Bouillon de boeuf – beef broth. If he was playing badly, he was Bouillon de poulet (chicken broth). Inevitably, when Bouillon scored, we’d make his name into “Boo-yah!” like a couple of dorks. As for the player named Bonk, every time he scored a goal, we’d bonk heads. Naturally.
The year before I moved to the States, the Canadiens made the Stanley Cup playoffs. My bro and I put on our team jerseys and settled in his room to watch a game on his TV. He sank into his big green easy chair and I flung myself onto the unmade bed. The music at the arena drowned out the TV announcers’ voices. Spotlights tracked across the surface of the ice. Player after player was introduced over the loudspeaker to the roar of the crowd. The Molson Centre* was packed with excited fans who’d been lucky enough to score themselves expensive and hard-to-get playoff tickets. It seemed as though everyone, in every seat, was waving a white towel emblazoned with the team logo. My brother stood up and left the room for a moment, returning with two white washcloths. We whirled them for all we were worth every time our guys rushed the opposing net.
I can’t quite get myself as psyched when I’m watching a Capitals game. Even when the Habs make the playoffs and I have a chance to see them play on TV, I don’t pull out my jersey. It feels silly when it’s just me. I hereby declare that the next time the Canadiens make it to the playoffs, I will pack my jersey and a white towel, and head home to Montreal to watch a game with my bro.

*It’s the Bell Center now, but I can never seem to remember that name.

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