Anyone living in the Montreal area is probably familiar with Quartier Dix30 in Brossard, near the Canadiens practice facility. It has the appearance of a tiny artificial town within a town packed with stores and restaurants and created purely for shopping. Raleigh has a similar setup attached to the same complex as the team’s hotel. Otherwise surrounded by the vast forests of North Carolina which appeared to have nothing more interesting than a few squirrels to photo-document, the canadiens.com staff opted instead to explore the streets of the outdoor mall Thursday afternoon.
Walking around the North Hills shopping complex, we couldn’t help but immediately notice a brasserie on the premises with several French words printed on their awning. For all of our Anglophone fans out there that can speak or are learning French, this will serve as a good exercise. See if you can spot the mistakes on this sign? For those of you left scratching your heads, the mistakes lie in the accents.
Of the three used here only the one on Petit Déjeuner is correct, meaning either the accent aigu is the only one available in American print shops or the person responsible was too lazy to be bothered with Google translate. In reality, the other words should actually read bière and crêpes. But good effort anyways, North Hills.
1600 Pennsylvania Ave: the most famous address in the United States. Like most visitors to Washington, we wanted to check out the historic landmark in person so we headed out first thing in the morning to get a glimpse before the crowds arrived. Some people might look at the 55,000 square foot building and wonder what it would be like to live there, but having lived in apartment buildings in Montreal, we were a little more curious about what the President would be like as a neighbor. He’s got his own basketball court and rose garden so he probably throws some decent parties and he seems approachable enough to lend you a cup of sugar if you were in need, but mowing the lawn before 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday is kind of a deal breaker for us, Mr. President…
Having been through the planning and execution behind a Centennial celebration, we love to see how other people fete 100 years of history. That’s why we were so intrigued to learn that we just happened to be in Washington in time to take in the 100th Annual Cherry Blossom festival in the city, commemorating the day over 3,000 cherry blossom trees were bestowed on the nation’s capital by Tokyo, Japan. No word yet if any jersey retirements have been planned throughout the five-week festival, but there are still plenty of events and scenic views on tap in Washington.
While strolling through the Lincoln Memorial, we noticed a few people flying kites across the reflecting pool. Then we noticed a few more…like a thousand more. We assumed Washingtonians just really enjoy whimsical leisure activities, but as it turns out, Saturday was the Blossom Kite Festival – one of the marquee events of the Cherry Blossom Centennial celebrations. Maybe we’ll keep that idea in mind for the team’s Bicentennial 97 years from now.
It’s only been a week since Tim Tebow was traded to the Jets, but stores across the city have already started rolling out green and white T-shirts in honor of the star quarterback. Without even taking a snap in the Big Apple, Tebow has already earned his spot in stores and kiosks alongside New York superstars like Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle – Jeremy Lin hasn’t even earned that kind of prime placement alongside the Yankee greats yet! Looks like Tebow-mania is already sweeping the city. Good luck, Tim – if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Since our offices are at the Bell Centre, we have to commute to Brossard every day to cover practice so the news that Montreal is looking into constructing a new bridge to replace the Champlain is of particular interest to our staff. We’ve heard the rumors of a $7.00 toll being added to cross the new bridge to cover costs so we’d like to submit another idea for consideration: a gondola. Think about it – why sit in traffic every morning when you can just fly over it? That was exactly the thinking behind the Roosevelt Island Tramway in New York City. When developers started building up a community across the river from Manhattan, they quickly realized how long it would take to extend the subway line to Roosevelt Island. Instead of leaving their citizens stranded, they got creative and gave their people an ingenious alternative to traditional carpooling by channeling their inner ski bunnies. This is public transit we can get behind!
No trip to Philadelphia would be complete without sampling one of the city’s greatest inventions: the Philly cheesesteak. We here at canadiens.com are traditionalists even when it comes to our food, so naturally we headed to Pat’s King of Steaks to sample the delicious, meaty sandwich the way co-creators Pat and Harry Olivieri meant it to taste. Only in the City of Brotherly Love will you find two friendly competitors both claiming to sell the best Philly cheesesteaks in the world, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, right across the street from one another. Naturally, there was only one way for us to settle the debate once and for all: a taste test!
On the surface, both looked almost identical but when it came to juicy flavor and meaty goodness, the competition wasn’t even close. While Pat’s seems to operate like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi (rumor has it you can actually get sent to the back of the line for ordering wrong!), it was worth the stress in line. When it comes to Philly cheesesteaks, there’s nothing quite like the original! We’ll definitely be making more stops to Pat’s in the future, but after leaving we couldn’t help but wonder what Quebec delicacy we would recommend other teams try when doing their own Road Blogs in Montreal. Schwartz’s smoked meat? Poutine from La Belle Province? Bell Centre hot dogs? Guess we’ll just have to do another taste test when we get back to make sure…
Still miss the Expos? Yeah, us too. What die-hard ‘Spos fan could forget the longtime rivalry between Nos Amours and the Philadelphia Phillies? For nostalgia’s sake we popped by Citizens Bank Park – home of the Phillies – on our way to the Wells Fargo Center around the corner. Even with MLB opening night just around the corner, we were able to visit the ballpark without any major pangs of emotion…until we came across this bronze statue of notorious Expos killer Mike Schmidt. All those memories of postseasons come and gone at the Big O immediately came flooding back. They say time heals all wounds, right? Guess we’ll just have to wait a little longer…
With spring kicking off early this year it's hard not to think back, remember the Expos and wonder what kind of success they might have enjoyed had they ended up with a new downtown stadium. Nostalgia got the better of us when we stumbled across Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons - the New York Mets' "AAA" farm team. Even though their season only gets underway on April 11th, the grass on the field was already green and it seemed like you could already smell hotdogs cooking in the air.
Journalist Jim Kelley (not to be confused with former Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly) famously covered the Sabres for nearly 30 years for the Buffalo News before finally losing his courageous battle with cancer in November of 2010. In his honor, the city of Buffalo renammed part of Washington Street running next to First Niagara Center, "Jim Kelley Way".
In Ontario safety clearly comes first. Waiting for the Habs practice to start in Ottawa Friday morning, the canadiens.com staff was surprised to see Scotia Bank Place workers come out onto the ice to set up the nets wearing bright yellow hard hats. While unconfirmed, we were soon after explained that it’s mandatory for everyone on Ontario skating rinks to wear helmets at all times. Apparently even the Zamboni driver. You can never be too careful.
While most press galleries around the NHL feature only posters, photos and memorabilia specific to the home team, the Ottawa press gallery boasts a little bit of everything from all around the league. The slightly outdated, framed jerseys did provide some great memories thanks to such favorites as this 1998-2003 Phoenix Coyotes jersey.
Or what about this "straight-out-of-the-movies" original Mighty Ducks sweater?
Other than the Sabres, legendary author F. Scott Fitzgerald and iconic local cowboy, Buffalo Bill, Buffalo’s most famous contribution to North American culture can be found at restaurants and bars all over the world. The origins of the Buffalo Wing – or chicken wing – can be traced all the way back to 1964 at the Anchor Bar on Buffalo’s Main Street. The story goes that instead of boiling the chicken wings for soup as was customary at the time, when asked for a snack by her son and his friends, restaurant owner Teressa Bellissimo decided to deep fry the wings and smother them in hot sauce. If you’re not able to make it down to First Niagara Center for Monday’s game, why not head to Buffalo Bill’s restaurant on Saint-Catherine Street and pick up a saucy batch of wings to help set the mood for the Habs-Sabres tilt?
The Buffalo skyline may not compare to the view of skyscrapers and high-rise buildings you’ll see in Montreal, but there are still a few architectural gems to be found. We stumbled across the Shea Theatre during our walk around town on Monday morning and were impressed enough to snap a photo. We must have been giving off a tourist vibe, because it wasn’t long before a random passerby decided to give us the low down on the building’s history: “They don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” he confirmed. “They built this puppy in 1920 for three million dollars. Can you believe that? They recently did about a million dollars worth of renovations to it. Trust me; it’s the most beautiful theatre you’ll ever see.” Sadly, there weren’t any performances scheduled for this week, but if anyone is in town for Girl Talk: The Musical next month, snap a few pics so we can see for ourselves!
Legendary former coach Roger Neilson earned a reputation as one of the brightest minds in the game during his storied career behind the bench, becoming one of the first coaches to use video to help teach off the ice. In Vancouver, Neilson’s work with a video camera was surpassed only by his infamous ability to wave the white flag. Upset with the officiating in Game 2 of the 1982 Western Conference finals, Neilson stuck a white towel to a hockey stick and stood behind the bench, defiantly waving his flag in surrender to make his point. When he returned home for Game 3 in Vancouver, he was greeted by thousands of fans waving white rally towels in support, giving birth to the playoff towel tradition in the city and helping spur the Canucks on to a series win.
Lord Stanley of Preston’s enduring legacy in Canada may be best embodied by large bearded men sipping champagne out of the silver Cup he commissioned over a century ago. While the Cup is still the most prized heirloom from Lord Stanley’s collection, the park named after the former Governor General gives the trophy a run for its money in Vancouver. Over 1,000 hectares of green space in the middle of the B.C. metropolis, Stanley Park is a must-see even on a rainy day in the city. As beautiful as the park is, we’re guessing most hockey fans here would still trade it in for his other big prize…
The Canadiens aren’t the only Montreal sports team looking for a win in Vancouver on Saturday. Across from Rogers Arena at B.C. place, the Montreal Impact will make history at 3:00 p.m. PST when they hit the pitch for the first time in the MLS for their season-opener against the Whitecaps. While we won’t actually be able to attend the game in person, here’s hoping the Impact kick their season off on the right foot! Good luck, guys!
The Habs-Oilers game may be the marquee sporting event taking place in Edmonton on Thursday night, but it’s not the only game in town featuring a Montreal-based hockey team. A few blocks from Rexall Place at the Clare Drake Arena, the McGill Martlets and Université de Montréal women’s hockey teams will be competing for the Canadian title in the CIS hockey championships. U de M kicks off the tournament against Wilfrid Laurier before McGill takes on Calgary at 7:00 p.m. MST. Here’s hoping for three big wins for Montreal hockey on Thursday night!
It’s hard to think of Edmonton without automatically picturing Wayne Gretzky set up in his office behind the net at the then-Northlands Coliseum, feathering passes to Jari Kurri. But with eight players on the Habs roster born after the monumental trade that sent the Great One to Los Angeles in 1988, we realized that when a lot of our players were watching Gretzky growing up, their image of him is in a black and silver Kings jersey. Thanks to this larger-than-life bronze statue of No.99 in his original NHL uniform outside Rexall Place, guys like P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller will finally be able to catch a glimpse of Gretzky hoisting the Cup as an Oiler.
While a lot of the streets in downtown Edmonton are just basic numbers (100th Ave, 101st Ave, etc), things get a little more colorful on the drive to the Oilers’ home rink. Even without seeing the arena, we knew we were close when we turned onto Wayne Gretzky Drive. Why not name more city streets after Edmonton’s living legends? At least directions would be a lot more fun, no? “Looking for Wayne Gretzky Drive? Just take a left on Mark Messier Way and drive three blocks past Grant Fuhr Blvd to Jari Kurri Cres. You can’t miss it.”
Are you finding winter as long as we are (yes, this is going to be a recurring theme on the blog until the spring thaw…)? If so, might we recommend heading south to soak up some rays on a pristine beach? If that’s not in the cards but you happen to be in the GEA (Greater Edmonton Area), escaping winter by heading to the West Edmonton Mall may be your next best option. The largest shopping mall in North America and fifth biggest in the world doesn’t just feature 850 stores; it also boasts an indoor water park – complete with a sandless beach to help visitors beat the cold on a budget.
Stetsons, the Rocky Mountains or even the cowboy-inspired Saddledome itself; Calgary has plenty of unofficial symbols to choose from. But for hockey fans, nothing epitomizes Cow Town quite like this 10-foot carving of Flames legend Lanny McDonald outside Buzzards bar downtown. The artist nailed every last detail when crafting the representation of the Hall-of-Famer, from his No.9 captain’s jersey and old-school wooden stick right down to his iconic, bushy, red mustache.
In our most recent On the Road blog in Buffalo – or as it ended up being, Niagara Falls – the canadiens.com crew visited the highest point in the city to check out the foggy view. Since they were disappointed with their experience at the Falls, we figured we’d try our luck at the Calgary Tower out west to see if we could catch a better glimpse of the Rocky Mountains or some beautiful western scenery. The clear blue sky made for some picture perfect views – although we probably could’ve done without looking down…
When you live in a city where scraping off your car before the morning commute is as much a part of your daily routine as picking up a cup of coffee, it’s no surprise to see the lengths to which people will go to avoid the salty, snowy streets in Montreal by navigating the intricate underground city to get around the downtown core. It may be warmer down there, but there’s something about soaking in the atmosphere of the dark humid metro system that can get depressing during the long winter months. That’s why we think Calgary got it right with their “+15 Skywalk System”, an extensive network of above-ground bridges to help pedestrians get around without braving the elements while still getting to see a little Alberta sunshine during the day. Between that and the balmy Chinooks that roll through every once in a while, we have to give Calgary props for the way they handle winter!