Leafs-Habs: A Canadian Heritage Moment on Ice

By Anthony Sicilia
U.S. Presswire
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

You have all heard of the famous names that graced the ice and played their roles in this rivalry.

The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs have had one of the biggest wars on ice the hockey world has ever seen.  Each team through the years has left their mark on the world and most of all they have most certainly impacted the game as time went on. William Shakespeare once wrote in the poem All the World is a Stage, “The men all have their roles and they play many parts in their lifetime.” 

 In the case of the thespian playwright and author, he was correct.  How does it relate to the two hockey powerhouses?  I can only describe it as everyone has a story to tell. The real question is which colors you will you use to tell your story?

The colors you use will define who you are in the world. The colors under the microscope are blue and white representing the Leafs and on other side are the colors of the Canadiens which are red, blue and white.  Many people who don’t view hockey on an everyday basis might dismiss the power of a simple hockey jersey.  However, living in Canada, hockey is beloved from Canadians coast to coast.

We as Canadians were brought up around the game. We first took to the small ponds in our backyards where we would have small but competitive games involving our friends. We moved on from there and competed on the ice in a multitude of hockey arenas from around our many provinces.  We even viewed it on the television on a national level. Most of us would gather around the TV every Saturday night to tune into Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on CBC Television.  

A Canadian/Canadiens historical factor: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens are two of the key elements that make up the Original Six hockey franchises. The Leafs and Habs have competed against each other in 714 games. They wear the battle scars from their playoff games that total 71.

One of the most important aspects in hockey is to put the puck in the back of the net. Scoring goals in the NHL can lead to victory and victory can lead to championship titles. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups. The Leafs have won a combined 13 Stanley Cups.

Knowing your enemy: Names that are synonymous with the rivalry include Maurice “The Rocket” Richard, Daryl Sittler, Doug Gillmore, Saku Koivu, Mats Sundin, Patrick Roy and Curtis Joseph, to name a few. Some would even suggest that the rivalry has spawned a book depicting the reason behind fan allegiances.

That book is entitled The Hockey Sweater, a story which is inspired by the life of Roch Carrier who is a Quebec novelist. Some would argue that Toronto and Montreal represent more than most people realize. It is belief that those who speak English will likely support the Leafs. In addition those who speak French are likely to support Montreal.

The numbers don’t lie: As Hockey Night in Canada begins season 60, there has been a question floating around the air: After the 113 day lockout, how will the NHL entice fans to enjoy the good old hockey game once again? One way to have the fans gain interest in the game again is to watch the hockey match up featuring two of the greatest hockey teams in the league, Montreal and Toronto.

Instead of the usual 82 game season the season will have 48 games due to the lockout. In a season where there will be 48 games played out, every single point will matter.  As hockey fans, this is a good thing because the shortened season will mean every game will be played at its highest level every single night for 60 minutes.  In other words, it’s game on!

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