Hab at Heart – Jay Baruchel
MONTREAL – If you followed Jay Baruchel’s career over the last few years, two things stand out : his outstanding sense of humour and his unwavering allegiance to the Montreal Canadiens. Whether it be on movie sets in Hollywood or on Twitter, the NDG resident proudly sports the bleu-blanc-rouge through both good and bad. The canadiens.com crew met up with the Montreal-based actor to learn more about his love for all things CH.
How long have you been a Habs fan?
JAY BARUCHEL: That’s like asking someone how long they’ve been Jewish or Catholic. Basically, my whole life. And, I use those two examples because my mom is Catholic and my dad is Jewish, but the only thing I was, was a Habs fan. Even when my family moved to Oshawa, ON, just outside of Toronto, when I was five-years-old, I was still wearing Habs gear at school every day. My dad painted my whole room bleu-blanc-rouge. We represented Montreal the whole time we were in Ontario before we came back here in 1994, the year after the Cup, which was a pretty decent time to come back home. Even in high school, I might’ve been more interested in other stuff, but the Habs have always been a part of my life in some capacity.
So you remember the 1993 Cup run?
JB: Vaguely. I was nine-years-old. But to be perfectly honest, the thing I remember the most after we won the Cup is my dad being really, really hammered! (laughs) He was screaming and annoying everyone in Oshawa and Kingston. We didn’t hide it. He would drive through the streets and roll down the windows of his car and sing ‘Les Canadiens, les Canadiens, sont là!” Montrealers aren’t really subtle people!
What’s your fondest Habs memory?
JB: For me, in my generation, we lived through the Cups, but they weren’t a part of our lives. Our Habs are Saku Koivu’s teams. Personally, when Saku came back from cancer after being away for so long, I’ll always remember that ovation and him at center ice. That’s heavy duty. People can say whatever they want about him, but Saku Koivu is my captain. I watched him for more than a decade. What he meant to this team, to this city, it’s unbelievable. I remember being at the Bell Centre when he got hit in the eye by Justin Williams [in the 2006 playoffs]. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live. It’s hard when I go down to L.A. and hang out with my friends who are Kings fans and everybody loves Justin Williams out there! (laughs)
Have you ever dreamed about one day suiting up for the Habs? Did you ever play hockey as a kid?
JB: I wasn’t playing particularly well! (laughs) I was never a good skater. I played a lot of street hockey. The only organized sports I’ve ever played was softball when I was a kid.
Even though you’re in and out of town throughout the year, do you have time to swing by the Bell Centre occasionally for a game?
JB: I do, indeed. Actually I used to be a season ticket holder for two years. But, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really enjoy being in a big crowd of people. It’s not really my thing. If I can watch a game at my place in my pajama with my friends over, it’s awesome. That being said, there hasn’t been a year where I haven’t been to at least three games at the Bell Centre.
We’ve seen you attending some L.A. Kings games the last couple of years, including some playoff games. How does the atmosphere at the Staples Center compare to the one at the Bell Centre?
JB: I don’t want to be disrespectful to the people going to the Staples Center, but it doesn’t compare. I have some really good friends of mine who are die-hard Kings fans. They really love their team. Good or bad, they always watch them and support them. Unfortunately, they’re in the minority. For the most part, the Staples Center makes the Air Canada Centre look like the Bell Centre. It’s a really corporate place and there aren’t a ton of seats for regular people. That’s one of the most beautiful things about the Bell Centre. Other than being the biggest arena in hockey, it’s also the people’s arena. The biggest thing is, in Montreal, people will cheer when the Habs clear the puck while killing a penalty. (laughs) The fans are so hockey savvy.
You’re born in Ottawa, but you were been raised and still live in Montreal. Have people from the Nation’s Capital tried to lure you to join the Sens Army over the years?
JB: Absolutely not. Let’s be honest, there really isn’t a Sens Army! (laughs) I can tolerate chirping from Bruins fans and Leafs fans all day long. They’ve earned the right to do it. When people from Ottawa or Vancouver try that, it’s not the same thing at all! (laughs)
We’ve seen you showing your Habs pride on many movie sets. Do a lot of the people in the industry know where the CH logo comes from and what it means?
JB: The smart ones do! (laughs) Every once in a while I’ll have someone say to me ‘Oh, you’re from Chicago’, because of the CH on my shirt! I’m confused because this symbol is over a century old. It’s a global, international symbol. One of my favorite things is wearing it and connecting with people when I’m abroad. I’ll never forget being on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia, walking through a park wearing my Habs hat and this dude came out of a corner and just said to me ‘Go Habs Go’. You can’t get further away from Montreal than Australia and two complete strangers in a park managed to say Go Habs Go.
Seann William Scott once told us that you tried to convert him into a Habs fan while filming Goon together. Is it something you try to do every time you’re involved in a new project?
JB: Of course! (laughs) And, it worked! When people are just casual fans or not hockey fans at all and they watch a Habs game with me, they’ll see me go crazy! I try to educate them on the fly between whistles.
Interview conducted by Hugo Fontaine.