As you may or may not have heard, Four Habs Fans has accepted my wager on the October 18th game between Ottawa and Montreal. In the first of the two installments that made up my little adventure, we discovered that not all members of the Canadiens family are very happy with the direction the team has taken these last few years, as well as possibly unlocking the secret behind the once proud franchise's decent into hitherto unknown and truly historic levels of suckitude since their last Cup win. Today, we examine the deep dark secret hidden in plain sight behind a multiplex. Many Labatt 50 vendors died to bring us this information. Read on...
I looked around the alley, stealing myself against what, I had no idea. I just knew (mostly from the smell...a mix of garbage and wet hockey bag) that it would be unpleasant. But, the Ghosts had sent me here for a reason, so taking a deep breath, I knocked on the tin wall of the shanty.
"Halloo?" came a muffled voice from inside. "Ronald? Is that you? At last?" A girlish giggle followed that, at once endearing and blood curdling. Goosebumps raced up my arms. "Coming! Commmmiiiiiing! Just need to tidy up a bit! Hee-Hee!" I could hear the sound of furniture being moved, the clank of metal, the crash of broken glass ("Callice!") and then the door flew open in a hail of flies and old pizza boxes. The stench was enough to bring tears to my eyes. "I'm ready Ronald! I'm okay now. 'Estie oui! I can pl...wait. You're not Ronald. Um...Are you?" The derelict looked at me with a mixture of hope and suspicion. His matted hair, shot through with gray stood up a crazy angles, which was a nice distraction from the sunken bloodshot eyes and the pepperoni slice held captive in his scraggled nicotine stained beard. His clothes (Habs jersey over tattered jeans) were several stages past filthy and reeked of La Maudite.
"Ah...er...no. No I'm not. Sorry. George sent--"
"The ghosts?? You've seen the ghosts??"
"Um...yes. You see, they--"
"AHA! See Mark??" he shouted over his shoulder. "I'm not fucking crazy! You owe me your rookie card!" He looked back at me. "All of these years, the little bastard has called me crazy. I am NOT crazy! HAH!" Then to prove his point, he pulled down his pants and with jeans around his ankles and junk flapping in the breeze, he did the moonwalk in front of the door. The flies seemed to approve.
"Look, I, um, ah.." I stammered, trying desperately not to look at anything that would scar my memory forever, "I...I gotta go. Thanks for--"
"No, no. Come in, come in. Any friend of George is a friend of ours. Really. I'm Alain. Alain Héroux. You might remember me." He cleared his throat and continued in an uncanny impression of John Ziegler, "With their first pick in the 1982 draft the Montreal Canadiens select Alain Héroux! Rahhhhhhhhh!!! And the crowd goes wild!" A small smile crossed his lips as he stared at a spot over my left shoulder. Eventually, he snapped back to me. "Eh? Alain Héroux? Remember? Yeah. That was fun. Anyway, come in! I'm so rude. Hee-Hee!" Against my better judgment, I followed him through the door. Unlike my host, I didn't skip while I did it.
The place was packed. Not including myself and my new friend, there were six other people crammed into a space that would make a Chinese prisoner claustrophobic. "Introductions! Hee-Hee!" Alain pointed to a bundle of rags curled up in a fetal position on the floor. "Let's see. Friend of George meet Mark Pederson, first rounder, 1986, and who now owes me big!" The bundle grunted his greeting. "And over there is Eric Charron, first round, '88. Some people may have taken Recchi, Amonte or Molginy first that year, but...Qu'est c'que tu va faire, ein? Here we have Lindsay Vallis from 1989. I wouldn't say too much to him." His voice dropped to a whisper. "The next Habs pick that year was Brisebois, and he's still playing. It's a bit of a sore point."
"Anyway" Alain continued, "that's Brent Bilodeau, who like me, never played an NHL game. Then we have David Wilkie. Did you know that the team took a Japanese high schooler that year? Yep. 11th round. And finally, Monsieur Matt Higgins, first round of '96. Say high Matt!" Matt merely grunted and took another swig from his bottle of cooking sherry. "Ah, don't pay no mind to Matt. He's still a little pissed too. Guys drafted after him are still playing. You may have heard of them? Daniel Briere? Zdeno Chara? Tomas Kaberle? I think he's in Toronto."
"Wait, wait", I said. "You guys are all first rounders?"
"Yep", Alain replied.
"And you're all living here?"
"Well yeah. Pretty sweet eh? Ronald said he'd come back you see. He said we'd get another chance. So, we wait. We're happy to wait. HEE-HEE!! Of course, three of us are missing. Dougie Wickenheiser passed to the great practice rink in the sky, may God rest his soul. And Danny Geofrion's daddy came to take him home after a couple of years. I guess Boom Boom didn't think his little boy could hack it. And Andrew Cassels is...um...Hey Mark! Where'd Andy go?" "Food!" came the reply. "Oh yeah, Andrew went out to the pier. YUM! Fish head soup tonight!"
"Look. It was really nice to meet you all", I said, slowly backing toward the door. "Really. I do. But I have to go now. You see, I'm getting ready for this game on Thursday...."
"You from Ottawa, eh? ", David Wilkie asked me.
"Bastards beat us in their first game ever you know. Ruined my whole fucking year."
"Yeah. Er, sorry about that. Anyway, I really have to go. Um...good luck!" And with that I bolted outside. I think I saw Alain lunge for me, but he still had his pants around his feet. Never could skate, I thought as I burst into the back parking lot. I don't think downtown Montreal air had ever smelled so sweet. As I made my way back toward Atwater, a long white limo pulled up, a dapper older gentleman emerging from the back seat, a man I immediately recognized.
"Mr. Corey?" I signaled the gentleman. "I think you have an appointment. Hope you brought some fish heads." And with that, I made my way back down Ste Catherine, a huge smile on my face. Yep, it was good to be a Sens fan. Maybe I'd hit a strip club or two before heading home.
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