With Montreal playing host to the NHL All-Star Game this weekend, SI.com's Michael Farber celebrates his home city in a love letter to the headquarters of the league's most decorated franchise.
"Since the lockout in 2004-05, not a single ticket to the NHL's largest indoor venue has gone unsold," observes Farber, a testament to the steadfast loyalty of hockey's most passionate fans.
The mania only begins there.
Like Texas women and football, Montreal women are expected to hold their own in a hockey conversation. (My mother-in-law can never remember which of the Kostitsyn brothers is older, Andrei or Sergei, but she is 75 and deserves forbearance.) So a few years ago when a woman behind the Air Canada ticket counter at the airport asked me at 6 a.m. who I thought was going to win the Hart Trophy, I impatiently mumbled, "Crosby, I guess."
"Yes," she agreed, "Crosby's had a wonderful year." She paused. "And who do you think'll win the Vézina?"
"Well, the writers don't vote on the ..."
"I know, the general managers do."
At last the cartoon light bulb went off over my half-functioning brain.
"Why, your son will, Mrs. Luongo."
Thirteen months ago, Farber described Detroit as "Hockeytown, U.S.A." in a feature story for Sports Illustrated. Hockey enjoys massive support in the Motor City, but it's obvious the sport takes on a different meaning north of the border.
What do you think? Which city is hockey's true lifeblood: Montreal or Detroit? How does the fan experience compare between the two cities?
Montreal: This city is hockey [SI.com]
In Search Of ... Hockeytown U.S.A. (Dec. 10, 2007) [SI Vault]