Canadiens going Loonie for 100-year celebration

September, 25, 2008
Even the Loonie is getting a facelift.

I have to say, that impresses me.

The NHL's classiest organization is shedding no expense or detail in celebrating its centennial season. I arrived in Montreal yesterday to witness the league's first 100-year-old franchise unveil a busy program for its party year.

There's a dizzying array of events and items connected with the anniversary, but it's the Loonie that grabbed me.

Starting in March, more than 10 million copies of the Canadian dollar coin will adorn the legendary Montreal Canadiens logo.

"It's a first for a sports franchise in Canada," confirmed Canadiens executive Ray Lalonde.

Seriously, how many pro teams in the world get away with that?

And it could be a bonanza for water fountains in Toronto, where surely most of these Habs coins will end up after being chucked by nauseated Maple Leafs fans.

Kidding aside, it's going to be a fun year here in Montreal, what with the All-Star Game and NHL draft also being staged here as part of the 100-year party plans. And as one Habs fan said to me the other day, "Don't forget the Stanley Cup final, either."

Well, we'll see about that. They've got as good a chance as anyone in the lackluster East, but they're not your father's juggernaut Canadiens of yesteryear.

Cup or no Cup, there will be some special memories over the next year and a half, all leading up to the Dec. 4, 2009 game that officially marks the 100-year anniversary of the team's birth.

Today's Habs will occasionally wear yesterday's jerseys, some going all the way back to the very first season. Captain Saku Koivu was displaying that one yesterday. I wasn't surprised to see him wearing it, either. It's the only blue jersey the Habs have ever worn and it's a color Koivu has worn all too often.

"Yeah I know, it looks a bit like our Finnish jersey," Koivu chuckled when I asked him if that's why he was wearing it.

Other plans for the centennial celebration: A special Habs Monopoly game (I made sure to check -- Rocket Richard and Jean Beliveau occupy Boardwalk and Park Place), a four-disc DVD chronicling the history of the team, a behind-the-scenes documentary following the team this season, commemorative postage stamps from Canada Post and special hockey cards from Upper Deck.

I leave you with this. The Habs also made sure their 100-year anniversary would get attention in the video-game world. The latest version of the EA Sports NHL video game has an all-time Canadiens team in it, where you can have the likes of Rocket Richard skating alongside Guy Lafleur with Doug Harvey on defense and Patrick Roy in goal.

Very cool.


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