MONTREAL, CANADA – It ain’t Paris. It ain’t even France. And that’s why it’s so frogging tile cool! The French French can mess up a rock fight, while the Canadian French are so much more in tune with what interests us Walmart-shoppin’, contact-sport-lovin, fat-tummied Americans, that we’re eternally grateful that our new favorite winter sport is in the hands of the Francophones just north of Plattsburgh and NOT the ones we saved from speaking German.
Last week in downtown Plattsburgh.
It’s Montreal’s Frenchnicity (new word), ironically, that makes it so charming and visitor-friendly. And polite! In our 3 nights there, we found that the locals actually listen to you when you speak – to every word – and are genuinely interested in what you have to say. This is in stark contrast to the reception we received on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Granted, the Quebecois speak French like Vinny Barbarino spoke the Queen’s English but they more than make up for it with their sincerity and passion. Specifically when it comes to hockey. (They turn the sound ON in restaurants and serve an abridged menu until the final horn). And if you’re going to talk hockey in Montreal – and you will – you have to talk Jacques Demers.
Jacques Demers is 65 years-old and has himself some froggin’ life. Quebecois to the core, Demers’ resume includes putting Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Howe (Gordie’s son) on the same line for the 1979 WHL All-star team that swept the Soviets in a three game series. The line scored 7 points in the first game alone. Jacques went on to coach 5 NHL teams and guided the Canadians to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. Just this past August he was appointed to the Canadian Senate, while continuing as an on-air analyst for Les Habs. Oh, and by the way, he admitted he was “functionally illiterate” in 2005. See? Senators don’t read.
After familiarizing ourselves with Monsieur Demers, we took to the ice and got thrashed, 11-1, by a team of locals we had beaten last year. Seems Montreal folks don’t take it lightly when Yanks come in and win. This time, they were loaded for bear. Their 7-goal third period hastened our search for poutine and good beer. We found both and watched the Rangers whip the Canadians.
Poutine will cure whatever ails you.
Beer and poutine aside, the best part of Night # 2 was watching Don Cherry talk hockey. This guy is the bomb. He’d be booted off American TV in less time than Conan with The Tonight Show, but that’s the beauty of him. He’s unabashedly Canadian when it comes to hockey and he’s Archie Bunker regarding anything else. He’s such a loose canon, that even when he’s not firing haphazardly, it still seems as if he is to his longtime colleague.
And that’s barely a cross-check. For Le Don’s Game Misconducts, Google him talking Russians and women at games – those are the doozies that would have network execs pushing up their poutine.
So, there you have it; our two newest sports heroes hail from the great state of Canada and are equally politically incorrect in their own antiquated, yet charmingly fresh ways. Add them to great food, culture, waterfront skating parties replete with food and beverage stands, architectural beauty and the ability to play pond hockey in the city’s many parks (like we did all day Sunday) and you’ve got more than enough incentive to get the puck to Montreal. Did we mention that it’s a lot like France???
Cookie’s Corner, tomorrow. Bon Chance.