The Montreal Canadiens celebrated the franchise’s 110th anniversary on Tuesday sparing no expense.
Prior to the team’s game against the New York Islanders, each player donned warmup jerseys honoring one of the team’s many legends (goaltender Carey Price wore Jacques Plante’s sweater, for example) and the franchise even invited a few of those legends to join in the festivities as well.
Eleven of the team’s former captains took the ice in the bleu, blanc et rouge for a pregame ceremony that celebrated the franchise — which is older than the NHL itself — and its outstanding success. But it was Saku Koivu, who played in 13 seasons for the Habs and served as captain for nine of them, who received the loudest applause from the Bell Centre crowd.
“I find it amazing,” Koivu told reporters before the game about Montreal’s passion for its hockey team. “I’ve always said that this is not the easiest place to play but I wish that every NHL player would experience playing in Montreal for one day or one week and they would feel the excitement, feel the difference, what it is here. I don’t think you can create the intensity anywhere else.”
In addition to Koivu, former Montreal captains Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, Mike Keane, Pierre Turgeon, Vincent Damphousse and Brian Gionta were present for the ceremony.
Henri Richard, who captained the team from 1971-75 and Max Pacioretty (captain from 2015-18) — who currently plays for the Vegas Golden Knights — were similarly celebrated but could not attend the ceremony.
The Canadiens were founded on Dec. 4, 1909 as part of the National Hockey Association — eight years before the NHL was born.
Snapping an eight-game losing streak, the Habs defeated the New York Islanders 4-2 on Tuesday.