May Days In Montreal: In early May of 1966, Montreal’s mighty Canadiens won a second successive Stanley Cup championship (the 14th Stanley Cup in franchise history), dismissing the Detroit Red Wings in six games. Three days later, on Sunday, May 8, the champions took to Montreal’s exuberant streets to show themselves and their trophy to a crowd of some 600,000 well-wishers. Captain Jean Béliveau, a popular sight along the parade’s 16-kilometre route, felt the city’s love (top) as he rode alongside teammate Bobby Rousseau (middle) and greeted (bottom) a happy new bride.
(Images: Archives de la Ville de Montréal)
Halte là, halte là, halte là, les Canadiens, sont là. Les Canadiens, les Canadiens sont là! Forget all your last-night troubles, Montreal fans, and join me in the streets of 1978 when, on a Friday of this date, another edition of the team was celebrating a 21st Stanley Cup championship with a few hundred thousand of their closest fans.
“You never get tired of winning,” Canadiens captain Yvan Cournoyer mused on that day. “Especially when you face a reception like the one we’re getting. Each parade is better than the one before.” Cournoyer, incredibly, was processing through the streets of Montreal for the ninth time with the Cup. That’s him here, above, alongside Serge Savard outside the Forum; below, they ride through Montreal with a crew of fans and the coveted Cup.
(Top image: Réjean Martel, Archives de la Ville de Montréal; below, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)
“When the parade was held along the usual route (on Ste-Catherine St., heading east from the Forum), Westmount matrons, wandering hippies, downtown businessmen and fiery separatists were all linked, for one sun-splashed May afternoon, in cheering on their heroes, who were notable for their pallid winter complexions and the welts and bruises visible on their faces, necks and forearms.”
That’s Jack Todd, writing in Montreal’s Gazette earlier this week about the Montreal Canadiens and the unlikely Stanley Cup they won in May of 1971. Do me a favour (and yourself, too), and cast a cursor over to his accounting of how young Ken Dryden and Jean Béliveau, older, rustled up another Cup championship.
Canadiens wrapped up the series on May 18, 1971, when they beat the Black Hawks 3-2 at Chicago Stadium to take the Cup in seven games. The following day, another Wednesday of this very date, the happy Habs took to the streets of Montreal to greet some 500,000 of their (also happy) fans. Above, that’s a fine-looking Frank Mahovlich en route that day; below are his fellow wingers John Ferguson and brother Peter.
(Images: Archives de la Ville de Montréal, VM94-Ed041-071, VM94-Ed041-033)
Sixty-five days after the NHL isolated 24 teams in Canada to see whether it could finish its 2019-20 season, the league’s numbers were impressive: 130 games played, 33,394 COVID-19 tests administered, 0 positive results, 1 Stanley Cup awarded.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were pleased to accept the latter a week ago, on September 28, from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. With Cup in hand, the Lightning were quick to burst the NHL’s bubble, arriving in Tampa the next day, and quickly arranging to share their championship and the storied Cup with Lightning fans at a September 30 boat parade (the first in Stanley Cup history) and a (sort of socially distanced) stadium rally. For The New York Times, I wrote about the revelry, and where it might lead from here: it’s online here, and in the paper later this week.
As the Stanley Cup goes parading through Pittsburgh this morning, let’s cast back to another championship march, Montreal’s, in May of 1971. Canadiens beat the Black Hawks 3-2 on May 18 in Chicago (Henri Richard scored the decisive goal) to take the Finals four games to three. Next day, back home, the team toured the Cup through downtown crowds numbering an estimated 500,000. Montreal Gazette reporters Hubert Bauch and Bill Mann took the view, too; some of their sightings, extracted and arranged, included:
Swarms of young boys on bicycles joined the parade, and somewhere between St. Matthew and Guy a large, black, vintage hearse mysteriously made itself part of the group for a few blocks.
Everyone in town was there, or so it appeared.
Two longhairs passed a joint back and forth near Guy Street, while not far away a sign a sporting goods store window urged all to “Get high on sports, not drugs.”
And of course there were the kids. The big ones and the little ones. They nipped under police rope barriers to mob the players. They climbed over the cars holding out their autograph books, and occasionally they almost tore the arms off their heroes in the eagerness to adulate.
At St. Catherine and Metcalfe, one fellow, in full goaltender regalia despite the oppressive heat, had pasted adhesive tape all over his face to resemble Dryden’s mask. How and with what degree of pain he later removed it was not known.
One girl in hot pants proudly displayed Henri Richard’s picture on her blouse which proclaimed “Henry the Conqueror” in French.
“Hourrai Pour Henri!” became a commonplace banner as the parade wended its way further east on St. Catherine.
Stanley Cup T-shirts ($2.50) were moving very well yesterday, as were Canadiens balloons (three for 50 cents), and they were ubiquitous along the parade route as the roiling crowd pressed towards Les Canadiens’ cars.
Four barmaids in identical peasant costumes stood together outside their empty restaurant and squealed with glee at the sight of the celebrated Mr. Dryden. And from high above the street came flurry after flurry of confetti.
Later, on the ceremonial veranda over champagne and bon mots, Mayor Drapeau seized the time to draw attention to the grandeur of it all.
“As you all know,” he said, “we’re used to doing things the hard way. And I would like to say that les Canadiens have accomplished their feat in the Montreal style.”
Jean Béliveau summed it all up in his own way when he simply said: “How nice it is.”
Processional Hockey: Captain Canadien Jean Béliveau rides in Montreal’s happy Stanley Cup parade on May 19, 1971. Montreal police calculated the crowd to number 500,000 as the champions made their way through the downtown on the way to City Hall. The Gazette’s Hubert Bauch reported that the Cup was borne, perched high on a pedestal, on a big green float, and that, justly and poetically, it gleamed in the noonday sun. Also aboard: the entire marching band of College Secondaire St. Stanislas, who played a familiar tune as the crowd sang along: Les Canadiens, les Canadiens sont là. Béliveau came next, chauffeured in a car of his own. Bauch: “Coatless and squinting in the bright sunlight, he waved, smiled, shook hands and was totally Jean Béliveau.” (Image: Archives de la Ville de Montréal, VM94-Ed041-068)