Wednesday, May 31, 2017
In this series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, it has been the other way around. The Yankees lost 3-2 on Monday, but, last night, they broke out.
21230. That was the Yankees' linescore from the 1st 5 innings. That also happens to be a ZIP Code from Baltimore, to the west and south of Camden Yards, including M&T Bank Stadium, home of the NFL's Ravens. Camden Yards's ZIP Code is 21201.
Brett Gardner hit a home run in the 1st inning. So did Matt Holliday. Holliday hit another in the 3rd, chasing Chris Tillman, who usually pitches well against the Yankees. Gardner hit another in the 4th. Both men now have 11 home runs on the season, and we're still, for 1 more day, in May. And these weren't el cheapo homers, either: They averaged 404 feet.
When Aaron Judge doubled in the 4th, to make it 8-0, it felt like a little bit of a letdown, as we now come to expect a home run from Da Judge.
Luis Severino pitched shutout ball into the 6th, and was removed by Joe Girardi with 6 1/3rd innings pitched, having allowed 1 run on 7 hits, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts. But, you know Joe and his binder: 100 pitches is 100 pitches. Tommy Layne and Adam Warren each got an out in the 7th.
Bryan Mitchell got into trouble in the 8th, and Tyler Clippard was brought on to get the last 4 outs. Sometimes, this kind of situation turns nasty, and what was an 8-0 lead could seriously threaten to become a 9-8 loss. Not this time: Clippard didn't allow a baserunner.
Yankees 8, Orioles 3. WP: Severino (4-2). No save. LP: Tillman (1-2).
The Yankees now lead the American League Eastern Division by 3 games over the Boston Red Sox, 4 1/2 over the Orioles, 5 over the Tampa Bay Rays, and 6 1/2 over the Toronto Blue Jays, who have gone from horrible in April to respectable in May. In the all-important loss column, the Yanks lead the Sox by 4, the O's by 5, and both the Rays and the Jays by 8. (The Yankees have a game in hand on the O's, 2 on the Sox, 3 on the Jays and 4 on the Rays.)
The series concludes tonight. Masahiro Tanaka starts against Kevin Gausman. Then, the Yankees head up to Canada to take on those pesky Blue Jays.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Now, it's just very embarrassing. After all, going into yesterday's series opener, a Memorial Day matinee at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the Yankees had continued their surge, the Orioles had lost 7 straight games, and the Boston Red Sox had passed them for 2nd place in the American League Eastern Division.
Both teams were wearing khaki-lettered uniforms in honor of Memorial Day, which, while a fitting tribute to our military losses, looked very weird to those of us used to the Yankees' road gray shirts and navy blue caps, lettering and sleeves, and the Orioles home whites with orange lettering and black trim. Don't mess with the uniforms: A ceremony and a moment of silence before the game is enough.
Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees. He allowed 3 runs over the 1st 3 innings, and with 1 out in the 5th, allowed back-to-back singles. That brought him to an even 100 pitches. Girardi gotta Girardi, and so, Joe Girardi panicked, and took him out. I can't argue with the results, though: Between them, Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve went the rest of the way, and allowed only 1 baserunner.
That's all you can ask your pitchers to do: Give your offense a chance to win. People say, "Pitching wins games" or "Pitching wins championships" never learn: You can't win unless you score. And the Yankees did not get the job done against Oriole starter Dylan Bundy, who, if not quite Ted Bundy, was a lot closer to King Kong Bundy than Al Bundy.
Aaron Hicks got a run home with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd inning. Aaron Judge + the Baltimore Bandbox = home run, right? Right: A 429-foot blast to center field in the 7th, his 17th dinger of the season, and we're still in May. He's actually ahead of Roger Maris' pace in the 1961 record season.
But that was it. The Yankees wasted a leadoff single in the 1st and a double in the 3rd, both by Brett Gardner. They stranded 2 runners following Hicks' sac fly in the 2nd. They wasted leadoff singles by Hicks in the 5th and Gary Sanchez in the 6th. They stranded a runner in the 7th, and went down 1-2-3 in both the 8th and the 9th. You can't do that, especially when your pitchers hold the opposition to 3 or fewer runs and you're in a hitter's haven like Camden Yards.
Orioles 3, Yankees 2. WP: Bundy (6-3). SV: Brad Brach (10). LP: Montgomery (2-4).
The series continues tonight. Luis Severino starts for the Bronx Bombers, Chris Tillman for the Baltimore Birds. And the Yankees better take advantage of Camden Yards and get some more runs.
Days until the Red Bulls play again: 4, this Saturday night at 7:30, away to the Montreal Impact. They beat the New England Revolution 2-1 in a "derby" this past Saturday night.
Days until the U.S. national soccer team plays again: 4, this Saturday night, at 8:00 local time (10:00 Eastern), against Venezuela, in an international friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Sandy, Utah home of MLS' Real Salt Lake. Under 4 weeks. This is a warmup for the following week's CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, the following Thursday at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the Denver suburbs, against Trinidad & Tobago, and the following Sunday against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. At the very least, the T&T game is a must-win.
Days until the Red Bulls next play a "derby": 19, on Sunday, June 18, against the Philadelphia Union, at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. They will next play a Hudson River Derby against New York City FC on Saturday, June 24, at Red Bull Arena. They will next play the New England Revolution on Wednesday, July 5, at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. And they will next play the D.C. Scum on Saturday, September 27, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
Days until the next Yankees-Red Sox series: 7, a week from tonight, at 7:05 PM, at Yankee Stadium.
Days until The Arsenal play again: That depends. If you mean any game, the Gunners, who won the FA Cup over Premier League Champions Chelsea, this past Saturday, will next play on Thursday, July 13, when they begin their preseason tour of Australia and Asia, with a game against A-League winners Sydney FC at Stadium Australia in Sydney. That's 44 days. If you mean a game that means anything, well, FIFA counts the FA Community Shield (formerly known as the Charity Shield), the annual season kickoff between the holders of the League title and the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium in London, that's on Saturday, August 5, and that's 67 days. If you mean a Premier League game, a game that actually counts for something, the season begins the following Saturday, August 12, and that's 74 days, or a little under 11 weeks. There is a chance, of course, that the TV networks could have Arsenal's match moved to the following Sunday or Monday.
Days until the next North London Derby: Unknown, since the schedule for the 2017-18 season won't be released until June 14. But, regardless of the teams involved, derbies are rarely played in August.
Days until Rutgers University plays football again: 94, on Friday, September 1, home to the University of Washington. A little over 3 months.
Days until East Brunswick High School plays football again: Unknown, as the 2017 schedule hasn't been released yet. I now know that high school football games have been scheduled in Middlesex County, New Jersey for Friday night, September 8. That's 101 days from now.
Days until the New Jersey Devils play again: We don't know, as the 2017-18 NHL schedule has yet to be released. The NHL season usually begins on the 2nd Friday in October, which, in 2017, would be... ugh... Friday the 13th. that's 136 days. Under 4 months.
Days until the New Jersey Devils next play a local rival: See the previous answer, although the 1st game isn't likely to be against either the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders or the Philadelphia Flyers.
Days until the Alex Rodriguez Contract From Hell officially runs out, and the Yankees can spend his salary on new players: 154, on October 31.
Days until the next election for Governor of New Jersey: 161, on Tuesday, November 7. A little over 5 months.
Days until the next Rutgers-Penn State football game: 165, on Saturday, November 11, at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania.
Days until the next East Brunswick-Old Bridge Thanksgiving high school football game: 177, on Thursday morning, November 23, at 10:00. Under 6 months, and thank God it's at home, at Jay Doyle's Green Grove, rather than at that purple shit pit on Route 9.
Days until the next Winter Olympics begins in Pyeongchang, Korea: 255, on February 9, 2018. A little over 8 months.
Days until the next World Cup kicks off in Russia: 380, on June 14, 2018. A little over a year, or just over 12 months. Has Bruce Arena turned our chances around? Maybe, with the tournament on his soil, Vladimir Putin will tell Donald Trump to tell Bruce Arena to tank the games. Maybe not. Or maybe only if we end up playing Russia. I don't think Arena will listen. If he doesn't, I hope his life insurance is paid up, because Putin has people killed for defying him.
Days until September 2018 roster call-ups, when we can finally start to expect seeing some of those wonderful "prospects" for whom Yankee general manager Brian Cashman threw away a chance at the 2016 Playoffs: 459. Under a year and a half, or just over 15 months. Of course, we could end up seeing one or more of them sooner than that, but since most of them are at Double-A Trenton now, if that, who's kidding who? Then again, at the rate the Yankees are going now, we may not need them!
Days until the next Congressional election: 525, on November 6, 2018. Under a year and a half, or a little over 17 months.
Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Mariano Rivera: 589, on January 9, 2019. A little over a year and a half, or a little over 19 months.
Days until the Baseball Hall of Fame vote is announced, electing Derek Jeter: 954, on January 8, 2020. A little over 2 1/2 years, or a little over 31 months.
Days until the next Summer Olympics begins in Tokyo, Japan: 1,159, on July 24, 2020. A little over 3 years, or a little under 38 months.
Days until the next Presidential election: 1,621, on November 3, 2020. Under 3 1/2 years, or a little over 41 months.
Days until Liberation Day: 1,699, at noon on January 20, 2021. Under 4 years, or a little under 44 months. Note that this is liberation from the Republican Party, not just Donald Trump. Having Mike Pence as President wouldn't be better, just differently bad, mixing theocracy rather than kleptocracy with plutocracy.
Note: From this point onward, I will be using the French name with the accent mark for the City, Montréal; and for the Province, Québec. The exceptions will be for when using it in the name of teams, buildings and newspapers.
And if it seems like I love this city, your perception is correct. Aside from New York, Montréal is my favorite city in the world. They are a lot alike: Each is a multicultural city of islands, bound by a subway system, ethnic food and sports. The differences make the similarities all the more interesting.
Before You Go. This is Canada, the Great White North, but we're approaching Summer, so the traditional cold won't be a problem. It won't be cold enough for you to say, "Sainte merde!" (That's French for "Holy shit!") According to the Montreal Gazette website, they're predicting high 60s for Saturday afternoon, and mid-50s for the evening.
Being in a foreign country has its particular challenges -- and, yes, for all its similarities to America, Canada is still a foreign country. The French influence makes Montréal and Québec City seem more foreign even than Toronto, the only city and metropolitan area in Canada with more people than Montréal.
Make sure you call your bank and tell them you're going. After all, Canada may be an English-speaking country (at least co-officially, with French, although Québec is French-first), and a democracy (if a parliamentary one), and a country with teams in America's major leagues, but it is still a foreign country. If your bank gets a record of your ATM card making a withdrawal from any country other than the U.S., it may freeze the card, and any other accounts you may have with them. So be sure to let them know that you will, in fact, be in Canada for a little while.
As of June 1, 2009, you have to have a valid, up-to-date passport to cross the U.S.-Canadian border. You should also bring your driver's license (or other State-issued photo ID). If you don't have a valid passport, you will need a valid photo ID and a copy of your birth certificate. This is not something you want to mess with. Canadian Customs officials do not fuck around: They care about their national security, too.
Do yourself another big favor: Change your money before you go. There are plenty of currency exchanges in New York City, including one on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue. There are also a few in New Jersey: Travelex has exchange centers at Newark Liberty International Airport, and at 4 malls: Garden Sate Plaza in Paramus, Jersey Gardens in Elizabeth, Menlo Park Mall in Edison and Bridgewater Commons.
Leave yourself $50 in U.S. cash, especially if you're going other than by plane, so you'll have cash on your side of the border. I was actually in Montréal on the day when it most favored the U.S.: January 18, 2002, $1.60 to $1.00 in our favor. As of Monday night, May 29, US$1.00 = C$1.35, and C$1.00 = US 74 cents.
The multi-colored bills were confusing on my first visit, although we have those now, too:
* The $5 is blue, and features Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister, 1896-1911.
* The $10 is purple, and features John A. Macdonald, the 1st Prime Minister, 1867-1873 and again 1878-1891. The nation just celebrated the Bicentennial of his birth (1815). Essentially he's their George Washington, without having fought a war for independence.
* The $20 is green, and features the nation's head of state, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.
* The $50 is red, and features William Lyon Mackenzie King, the longest-serving Prime Minister, 1921-1926, 1926-1930, 1935-1948, including World War II.
* And the $100 is yellow, and features Robert Borden, Prime Minister 1911-1920, including World War I.
The tricky part is going to be the – and you'll thank me for telling you this, but keep your U.S. coins and your Canadian coins separate, for the simple reason that their penny, nickel, dime and quarter are all the same colors and just about the same size as our respective coins. (To make matters more confusing, as we recently did with our States, they had a Provincial quarter series.)
All coins have Queen Elizabeth's portrait on the front, as the monarch of Great Britain remains the monarch of all British Commonwealth nations, including Canada. But she's been Queen since 1952, and depending on how old the coin is, you might get a young woman, or her current 88-year-old self, or anything in between. You might even get a penny or a nickel old enough to feature her father, King George VI. Such a coin is still legal tender, however.
On the backs, the penny has maple leaves, the nickel a beaver, the dime a sailboat, and the quarter an elk. They have a $1 coin, copper-colored, bigger than a quarter, and 11-sided, with a bird on the back. This bird is a loon – not to be confused with the people lunatic enough to buy Leafs season tickets. The coin is thus called the "loonie," although they don't say "ten loonies": They use "buck" for "dollar" the way we would. In fact, the term is connected to Canada: Their first English settlers were the Hudson's Bay Company, and they set the value of a dollar to the price of the pelt of a male beaver, the male of the species being called, as are those of a deer and a rabbit, a buck. (And the female, a doe.) The nation's French-speakers (Francophones) use the French word for loon, and call it a "huard."
Then there's the $2 coin, or "toonie." It's not just two dollars, it's two-toned, and even two-piece. It's got a copper center, with the Queen on the front and a polar bear on the back, and a nickel ring around it. This coin is about the size of the Eisenhower silver dollars we used to have. This is the coin that drives me bonkers when I'm up there.
My suggestion is that, when you first get your money changed before you begin your trip, ask for $1 coins but no $2 coins. It's just simpler. I like Canada a lot, but their money, yikes, eh?
Montréal is in the Eastern Time Zone, so you won't have to fiddle with your timepieces. And while a working knowledge of French will help considerably, it is not necessary: Just about everybody in Montréal understands and speaks English.
And most signs shouldn't be too hard to read, as they'll look like the signs in the U.S. (EXIT signs read SORTIE but look like EXIT signs, STOP signs are still eight-sided and red, etc.) However, from experience, I can tell you this: As Québec is Francophone, if you check your phone messages, your signal may get beamed to a Canadian satellite, and you may hear your message in French. And, if you don't understand spoken French, that could be a problem.
Tickets. Last season, the Impact averaged 20,669 fans per game. That's about a sellout at Saputo Stadium. While they play early-season games (due to the weather) and Playoff games (due to the, well, impact) at the 61,000-seat Olympic Stadium, getting tickets at Saputo will be hard.
Fortunately, soccer is the one major sport in North America where visiting fans are segregated, with a section set aside for them. In Saputo's case, it's Section 112, in what is officially the northeast corner, but is geographically the northwest corner, as Montreal's streets are cockeyed from the compass. This will put you in view of the Olympique Tower, which was designed to support the roof of the Olympic Stadium. Tickets here are C$33 (about US$24.75).
Getting There. It's 367 miles from Times Square to downtown Montréal, and 373 miles from Red Bull Arena to the Olympic Stadium and Saputo Stadium (which are both part of the Olympic Park complex). That's in that difficult range where it's a little too close to fly, but too far to get there any other way. Downtown Montréal is 43 miles from Lacolle Inspection Station, at Lacolle, Quebec and Champlain, New York, the usual border crossing for travelers between New York and Montréal.
Air Canada runs flights out of Newark Liberty, John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia International Airport, and the flight to Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (formerly known as Dorval International Airport, for the suburban town it's in) takes about an hour and a half. Book on Air Canada today, but will cost over US$1,400. Most American carriers will cost roughly the same, but getting a nonstop flight will be harder. From the airport, at the western edge of the city, a bus (appropriately, Number 747) will take about half an hour to get downtown.
Greyhound runs 5 buses a day from Port Authority Bus Terminal to Autobus Greyhound, at 1717 Rue Berri at Boulevard de Maisonneuve. (Countries in the British Commonwealth, including Canada, call a local bus a bus and an inter-city bus a "coach.") The ride averages about 8 hours, and is $120 round-trip.
In fact, if you don't want to spring for a hotel room, you can leave Port Authority at 12:01 AM, arrive in Montréal at 8:20 AM, leave again at 11:45 PM, and arrive back home at 7:40 AM.
The terminal is big and clean, and you shouldn't have any difficulties with it. If you made the mistake of not changing your money yet, there is an exchange window there. It's got a stairway leading to the Berri-UQAM (University of Québec at Montréal) Metro station. 1717 Rue Berri at Blvd. de Maisonneuve.
Montreal's bus terminal, with its towering parking decks
Amtrak, however, runs just one train, the Adirondack, in each direction each day between New York and Montréal, in cooperation with Canada's equivalent, VIA Rail. This train leaves Pennsylvania Station at 8:15 AM and arrives at Gare Centrale (Central Station) at 7:11 PM, a trip of almost 11 hours. The return trip leaves Montréal at 10:20 AM and gets back to Penn Station at 8:50 PM. And since Saturday night's game starts at 7:00, you'd have to take the trip on Friday to get there on time, and spend not 1 but 2 nights in a hotel.
So, while Gare Centrale, bounded by Rue de la Gauchetiere, Rue University, Rue Belmont and Rue Mansfield, is in the heart of the city, taking Amtrak/VIA to Montréal is not particularly convenient. Especially since the Adirondack, with its views of the Hudson River and Lake Champlain, is one of Amtrak's most popular routes, and it could sell out. If you still want to try it, it's $154 round-trip.
If you're driving, if you live close to the Garden State Parkway, take it across the State Line to the New York State Thruway, Interstate 87. If you live near New Jersey Route 17, take that up to the Thruway. Same with Interstate 287. Once you get to the Thruway/I-87, remain on it through Albany, after which it becomes the Adirondack Northway, all the way up to the border.When you get to the border, you'll be asked your citizenship, and you'll have to show your passport and your photo ID. You'll be asked why you're visiting Canada. Your going up just to seeing a Red Bulls vs. Impact game might strike them as being a little odd, but they won't keep you out of their country based on that alone.
If you're bringing a computer with you (counting a laptop, but probably not counting a smartphone), you don't have to mention it, but you probably should. Chances are, you won't be carrying a large amount of food or plants; if you were, depending on how much, you might have to declare them.
Chances are, you won't be bringing alcohol into the country, but you can bring in ONE of the following items duty-free, and anything above or in addition to this must have duty paid on it: 1.5 litres (53 ounces) of wine, or 8.5 litres (300 ounces or 9.375 quarts) of beer or ale, or 1.14 litres (40 ounces) of hard liquor. If you have the slightest suspicion that I'm getting any of these numbers wrong, check the Canada Customs website. Better yet, don't bring booze in. Or out.
As for tobacco, well, you shouldn't use it. But, either way over the border, you can bring up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, and 200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco. As for Cuban-made cigars, last year, President Obama loosened the embargo so that you can import up to $100 worth of Cuban-made tobacco per traveler.
On October 14, 2016, President Obama finally ended the ban on bringing Cuban cigars into America. This also applies to rum, for which Cuba is also renowned. It is still considerably easier to buy these items in Canada than in America, but, now, you can bring them back over the border.)
If you've got anything in your car (or, if going by bus or train, in your luggage) that could be considered a weapon, even if it's a disposable razor or nail clippers, tell them. And while Canada does have laws that allow you to bring in firearms if you're a licensed hunter (you'd have to apply for a license to the Province where you plan to hunt), the country has the proper attitude concerning guns: They hate them. They go absolutely batshit insane if you try to bring a firearm into their country. Which, if you're sane, is actually the sane way to treat the issue.
You think I'm being ridiculous? How about this: Of the 44 U.S. Presidents -- 9 counting the Roosevelts, Theodore after he was President and Franklin right before -- 7 have faced assassins with guns, 6 got hit and 4 died; but none of the 23 people (including 1 woman) to serve as Prime Minister of Canada has ever faced an assassination attempt. John Lennon recorded "Give Peace a Chance" in Montréal and gave his first "solo concert" in Toronto, but he got shot and killed in New York. In fact, the next time I visit, I half-expect to see a bumper sticker that says, "GUNS DON'T KILL PEOPLE, AMERICANS WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE."
(Another note about weapons: I'm a fan of the TV show NCIS, which airs in Canada on Global Network TV. If you are also a fan of this show, and you usually observe Gibbs Rule Number 9, "Never go anywhere without a knife," this time, forget it, and leave it at home. If you really think you're going to need it -- as a tool -- mention the knife to the border guard, and show it to him, and tell him you have it to use as a tool in case of emergency, and that you do not plan to use it as a weapon. Do not mention the words "Rule Number 9" or quote said rule, or else he'll observe his Rule Number 1: Do not let this jackass into your country, eh?)
And if you can speak French, don't try to impress the Customs officials with it. The locals might appreciate that you're trying to speak to them in their primary language, but they won't be especially impressed by any ability to speak it, and any such ability won't make it any easier for you to get through Customs.
When crossing back into the U.S., in addition to what you would have to declare on the way in (if you still have any of it), you would have to declare items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return, items you bought in duty-free shops or (if you flew) on the plane, and items you intend to sell or use in your business, including business merchandise that you took out of the United States on your trip. There are other things, but, since you're just going for hockey, they probably won't apply to you. Just in case, check the Canadian Customs website I linked to above.
After going through Customs, I-87 will become Autoroute 15, which will take you right into the Montréal area. If you're going to a downtown hotel, take Exit 53 to Pont Champlain (the Champlain Bridge), which will take you to Autoroute 10, the Bonaventre Expressway, across the St. Lawrence River and right into downtown -- or, as they say, Centre-ville. If you're going only for the game, and going directly to the stadium, do not take the exit for the Champlain Bridge, but keep going, which will have you on Autoroute 20, and take Exit 8 for Pont Jacques-Cartier, across the river to Avenue de Lorimier. Turn right on Rue Sherbrooke, which will get you right to the stadium.
If you make 2 rest stops – I would recommend at or near Albany, and count Customs, where they will have a restroom and vending machines – and if you don't do anything stupid at Customs, such as fail to produce your passport, or flash a weapon, or say you watch South Park (a show with a vendetta against Canada for some reason), or say anything unkind about the late Maurice "Rocket" Richard, the trip should take about 8 hours.
Though that could become 9, because Montreal traffic is pretty bad, though not as bad as Toronto, which is every bit as bad as traffic in New York, Boston and Washington.
Once In the City. Montréal is one of the oldest cities in North America, founded by France in 1642. Seeing a big hill in the middle of the island will tell you where the name came from: "Mont Real," "Royal Mountain." In some instances, things in the city are spelled as "Mont Royal."
With 1.7 million people, Montréal has more people than any American city except New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. There are 4.1 million people in the metro area.
Since Canada is in the British Commonwealth, there are certain subtle differences. Dates are written not as Month/Day/Year, as we do it, but as Day/Month/Year as in Britain and in Europe. So while we would write the date of the game as "March 12, 2016," they would write it as "12 March 2016." Not 3/12/16, but 12/3/16. They also follow the British custom in writing time: A game starting at 4:00 PM would be listed as 1600. (Those of you who have served in the military, you will recognize this as, in the words of M*A*S*H's Lt. Col. Henry Blake, "all that hundred-hours stuff.")
And every word we would end with -or, they will end with -our; and some (but not all) words that we would end with -er, they end with -re, as in "Bell Centre." Every measurement will be in the metric system: Temperatures will be in Celsius, not Fahrenheit; distances will be in "kilometres" (including speed limits), and gas prices will be per "litre," not per gallon.
Speaking of which: Gas prices will be not just in Canadian dollars, but will be per "litre." So if you see "88.2," which is the current average price I'm seeing online for Montréal, that's not US 82 & 9/10ths cents per gallon, that's C 82 cents per liter. Which works out to about US$3.10 per gallon. So, if you're driving, get your gas here in New Jersey, where it's currently running about $1.57 -- about half as much!
When you arrive, I would recommend buying The Gazette and The Globe and Mail. The former newspaper is the city's predominant English-language paper, the latter is national, and both are liberal enough to suit my sensibilities (or, should I say, sensible enough to suit my liberalism). And The Gazette has a very good sports section, and does a superb job covering the Canadiens, and nearby minor-league, collegiate and "junior" hockey teams no matter what time of year it is.
I would advise against buying French-language papers like La Presse, Le Journal de Montreal and Le Devoir -- The Press, The Journal, and The Duty -- unless you really know French cold. Especially since Le Devoir is the local paper of Québec nationalism and even separatism. If The Gazette and The Globe and Mail are too liberal for you, The National Post may be more to your liking. Either the bus or the train terminal will have out-of-town papers, including The New York Times, and possibly also the Daily News or the New York Post.
Like New York, Montréal is a city of islands, with a main island in the center -- except, unlike Manhattan, you won't cross a State Line (or, in this case, a Province Line) by going over a bridge or into a tunnel. Like New York, Montréal is international and multiethnic: In spite of French being the largest ethnic group, there are significant Irish, Italian and Jewish communities, and, for linguistic reasons, a large and growing community of immigrants from France's former African colonies, and also from its former Middle Eastern colonies like Lebanon, Syria and Iran, places where French is still widely spoken.
Montréal doesn't really have a centerpoint. (Centrepoint? pointe du centre?) To make matters even more confusing, while they have East and West (Est et Ouest) on street names, like Manhattan, the main island is not perfectly north-south. Indeed, it's actually more than a 45-degree angle, so what's east is more north, and what's west is more south. Boulevard St-Laurent, known as The Main in English and Le Main (pronounced "leh man" in French), is the official east-west divider, where the address numbers on each side start at 1, while the river is the starting point for north-south-running streets.
The further west you go in the city, the more likely you are to hear English; the further east, the more likely you will be to hear only French. In fact, in Montréal's East End, you might see several buildings flying only the Provincial flag, the Fleurdelyse, the blue flag with the white cross and the white lilies in the cantons. These people who fly only the Provincial flag, not the red-white-red tricolor with the red Maple Leaf in the center, are separatists, who consider Québec a separate nation and want Anglophone Canada to "Let my people go." The separatist tide has faded since the nearly successful referendum of October 30, 1995, but there is still strong separatist sentiment in the East End, and this increases the closer you get to the Provincial capital, Québec City.
Roger Doucet, an opera singer who sang the National Anthem at Expos and Canadiens games in the 1970s before his death from cancer in 1981, would acknowledge this divide: He would begin the anthem in French, and face the east side of of Parc Jarry, Stade Olympique or the Forum; then, in mid-song, turn and face the west side of the structure, and conclude in English.
Société de Transport
Reading the Metro map shouldn't be too much trouble, even if you don't know French. Until 2014, the trains, regardless of the color of the line, were all blue. But, like their contemporaries, New York's "Redbirds," they've been replaced by silver cars.
Postal Codes in Montréal and its suburbs begin with the letter H. The Area Codes are 514 for the main island and 450 for the suburbs, with 438 as an overlay.
Just as Minneapolis tried to beat the cold by building a skywalk system downtown, Montréal went in the other direction, creating "Underground Montreal." (In French, La Ville Souterraine.) Every day, about half a million people use this system that has over 20 miles of tunnels spread over 4.6 square miles. They connect things like shopping malls, hotels, banks, office buildings, museums, universities, apartment buildings, the bus terminal, Gare Central and Gare Windsor, 7 Metro stations, and the Bell Centre.
The Provincial sales tax for Québec is 9.975 percent. The legal drinking age in Québec is 18. And if you're staying overnight, and wake up with a craving, and you can't find a Tim Hortons, you can look for a dépanneur. The word means "to help out of difficulty," is sometimes shortened to "dep," and is what we would call a convenience store. Like 7-Eleven or Wawa or Quik Chek. (There's now an eatery named Dépanneur in Brooklyn.)
Going In. I seriously recommend not driving to the stadium. If you did drive to Montréal, leave your car at the hotel's parking deck. Getting to the Parc Olympique complex by public transportation is easy. The Green Line goes to Station Pie-IX (pronounced "pee noof," and named for Pope Pius IX), and is used for the entirety of the park because of Montréal's cold weather, although going 1 station further, to Viau, would be better for Saputo Stadium.
L'Impact -- or, as fans of Canadian rivals Toronto F.C. and the Vancouver Whitecaps call them, "Limp Act" -- play most of their games at 20,081-seat Saputo Stadium (Stade Saputo), just to the north of the Olympic Stadium, at 4750 Rue Sherbrooke, about 4 1/2 miles east of downtown. Despite its Japanese-sounding name, Saputo is a Montréal-based dairy company, which, like the Impact, is owned by its Italian-Canadian founder, Joey Saputo. He also owns Italian club Bologna F.C.
Its field runs north-to-south, and, unlike most outdoor facilities in Canada, is natural grass. The stadium opened in 2008, and the Impact were founded the same year, as a lower-division side, and were promoted to MLS in 2012. Just as the Red Bulls have RBNY II, the Impact have a farm team, F.C. Montreal, as a replacement lower-division side that plays there.
On Tuesday night, June 13, Saputo Stadium will host the Canada men's national soccer team for the 1st time, against Curaçao.
Parc Olympique also includes the Olympic Stadium; an arena named for Canadiens great Maurice Richard, with a statue of him outside; the Velodrome cycling center, now a nature museum called the Biodome; the Montreal Botanical Garden and the Montreal Insectarium. But you don't want to see a museum devoted to bugs.
In 2018, the Canadian Premier League, Canada's attempt at a "top flight" soccer league, will begin play. It is possible that the Impact's farm team, Montreal Impact Academy, may join it, although it's not clear whether they would play at Saputo Stadium.
Food. Montréal is a great food city, but there are 2 things of which you should beware. One is Montréal-style hot dogs. This is a problem since hot dogs are a staple of sporting events. They call their hot dogs steamé, stimé or Steamies, and top them with mustard, chopped onion or sauerkraut. Sounds like New York-style, right? But they also put this weird relish on it, and that ruins it. Do yourself a favor, and order your Steamie without relish. (Incidentally, in spite of my suggestions of similarities between Montréal and New York, don't expect to see hot dog carts on the streets: The city banned street food carts in 1947.)
The other food you will want to avoid is poutine. It's French fries topped with brown gravy. Sounds great, right? Not so fast: They also top it with curd cheese. As they would say in the city's Jewish neighborhood, "Feh!" Poutine, like French fries (they call them patates frites, "fried potatoes," as they know that the item originated in Belgium, not France), is available at McDonald's, but stay away from it. Trust me.
If you're a fan of the film Pulp Fiction, you should be aware that, regardless of what it's called in Paris, in Montréal, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is called"un quarte de livre avec fromage" Literally, "a quarter of a pound with cheese." Not "a royale with cheese."
Neverthless, Saputo Stadium has standard stadium food, and, although none of it is great, most of it upsets Canadian stomachs far less than does Gary Bettman. One staple of Montréal food that is definitely worth it is viande fumée -- smoked meat sandwiches. Think New York's Carnegie Deli, only cheaper and better. Yum, yum.
Team History Displays. Unlike the Canadiens across town, who never cease to remind you of their unbelievable history (because their present is so hit-and-miss), the Impact don't have much history. They've won the Voyageurs Cup, Canada's equivalent of the FA Cup, in 2008, 2013 and 2014, and lost the Final in 2015. They reached the Final of the 2015 CONCACAF Champions League, and were MLS Eastern Conference Runners-Up last season. That's it.
Montreal native and current head coach Mauro Biello was a forward for the original version of the Impact. His Number 20 has been retired by the club. They've also retired 12 for the fans, "the 12th Man." But there is no display for either these numbers or the Cup wins in the playing area of either Saputo Stadium or the Olympic Stadium.
The most heralded player in Impact history was Didier Drogba, the Ivory Coast forward who made his name as a pathetic (but very successful) diver at West London's Chelsea. He played for the Impact in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
UPDATE: Toronto beat Montreal, 3-2 on aggregate, to win the 2017 Voyageurs Cup.
Stuff. The Montreal Impact Boutique is inside Saputo Stadium, and should be open on matchday even when the game is at the Olympic Stadium. As for the latter, there should be souvenir stands around the concourse.
As a young team, there are no team videos for the Impact. And Amazon.com doesn't seem to have any books about them.
During the Game. You do not need to fear wearing your Red Bulls gear to the Olympic Stadium or Saputo Stadium. Fans visiting from Toronto, maybe. Vancouver, possibly. Any other team, no way: Aside from Montreal's international, multiethnic status, and the experience some of their fans may have gotten in Europe, Africa or Latin America, as long as you don't start any rough stuff, neither will they.
The rivalry with Toronto may actually be nastier than Canadiens-Maple Leafs, and certainly more so than Alouettes-Argonauts. During the 2016 season, a section of TFC fans -- the Inebriatti (more about whom later), insist it was not them -- raised a tifo (banner) showing a woman in Montreal blue kneeling before a man in Toronto red (the opposite colors from hockey and football), suggesting that she was, um, providing him with a naughty service. The perpetrators were identified, and their season tickets revoked.
UPDATE: In the next derby match after I posted this, Montreal got its revenge, hanging a banner reading "FUCK TORONTO." Again, the guilty parties were punished. Later in the season, another banner was raised, with a homophobic slur against Toronto star Sebastian Giovinco.
As with the largely Irish, Italian and Hispanic Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium, the French fans of Montreal may be letting the conservative side of Catholicism take hold. When your excuse for bigotry is your religion, maybe it's time to take a second look at your religion.
Since you're in Canada, there will be two National Anthems sung. "The Star-Spangled Banner" will probably be sung by about half of the few hundred Red Bulls fans who show up, but "O Canada" will be sung by the home fans with considerable gusto. The Impact hold auditions for anthem singers, rather than have a regular
When I'm at a sporting event where the opposing team is Canadian, I like to sing "O Canada" in French. Canadiens fans like this when I do it at the Prudential Center. Fans of the other Canadian NHL teams just think it's weird. But then, they root for the Blue Jays, and I root for the Yankees, so I'd rather have their opinion of me than my opinion of them.
Announcements are made in English and French. The Impact have a mascot, a dog named Tac-Tik. He's world-class, at both making a pass and scoring.
You dog, you.
UM02, waving the city flag, which has a French lily,
an English rose, a Scottish thistle and an Irish shamrock,
for Montreal's classic 4 ethnic groups.
127 Montréal was formed in 2011, and they follow the Impact on occasional away games. 1642MTL, named for the year the city was founded, began in 2015, and sits in Section 114 at Saputo.
The North Star is a bell, 5 feet high, 44 inches wide, weighing 1,576 pounds. It was acquired by 1642MTL as a goal and victory celebration. It was inaugurated on October 25, 2015 by Mayor Denis Coderre, and it was rung twice in an Impact victory over Toronto.
Since then, numerous famous Montrealers have been invited to ring the bell, similar to raising the 12th Man Flag at Seattle Seahawks games. Among the Montrealers who've done it have been soccer player Josée Bélanger and mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre. The bell is taken from Saputo to the Olympic Stadium when the Impact play there, but is not taken on the road.
After the Game. Montréal is an international city, every bit as much as New York is, and some of these people may be immigrants who cut their teeth as sports fans in European soccer. But we're not talking about hooligans here. Maybe if you were coming out of a hotly-contested game against the Toronto or Vancouver, but not against a New York Tri-State Area team -- not even fellow Jean-come-latelies NYCFC.
If you want to go out for a postgame meal, or even just a pint, you're out of luck as far as the Olympic Park area goes. Better to go downtown. This game being a 7:00 start, it should be over by 9:00, but you should be able to find a place with an open kitchen.
The Rue Crescent neighborhood, centered around that west-of-downtown street and roughly bordered by Rue Sherbrooke, Rue Peel, Boulevard René-Lévesque and Rue Guy (that's "gee" with a hard G, not "guy" rhyming with "high"), is, more or less, Montréal's "Greenwich Village." You should be able to find a place that will serve you even if you order in English. Be advised, though, that you must remove your hat when you walk into a Montréal pub. They insist.
Madisons New York Grill & Bar is at 5222 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, a 5-minute walk from the Olympic Park that includes the Olympic and Saputo stadiums, and is renowned for its chicken tenders. However, there is no evidence that this is a particular place that New Yorkers visiting, or ex-New Yorkers living in, Montréal tend to go to. Plus, I've been told it's more of a "restaurant" than a "bar," and that it's "kind of like a nicer TGI Friday's." If that's true, expect mediocre food at too-high prices and lousy service.
If all you need is a snack and coffee, your best bet may be Tim Hortons. (Note that there is no apostrophe: It's "Hortons," not "Horton's," because Bill 101, Québec's ridiculous protect-the-French-language law, prohibits apostrophes, and the company wanted to keep the same national identity.) They have a 62 percent share of the Canadian coffee market (Starbucks has just 7 percent), and 76 percent of the Canadian baked goods market. They also sell sandwiches, soup, chili, and even (some of you will perk up faster than if you'd drunk their coffee) New York-style cheesecake. It's fast food, but good food. I rate them behind Dunkin Donuts, but ahead of Starbucks.
"Timmy's" (in the diminutive, people do use the apostrophe) has Montréal outlets even though namesake Tim Horton, a hockey defenceman (that's how it's "spelt" up there), played most of his career for the hated Maple Leafs. He and businessman Ron Joyce started the doughnut/coffee shop chain in 1964, while in the middle of the Maple Leafs’ 1960s dynasty. He played a couple of years for the Rangers, then went to the Buffalo Sabres and opened a few outlets in the Buffalo area. He was still playing at age 44, and the only thing that stopped him was death. Specifically, a 100-MPH, not-wearing-a-seat-belt crash on the Queen Elizabeth Way over Twelve Mile Creek in St. Catharines, Ontario.
And if Canada's answer to Dunkin Donuts isn't your cup of tea (or coffee), there's always the dépanneurs. And if you really, really want Dunkin Donuts, there is one in the Place Ville-Marie mall, at Rue Mansfield and Blvd. René-Lévesque, 4 blocks from the Bell Centre, although it may not be open after the game.
You should stay away from Café Frappe at 3900 Blvd. St-Laurent, as that the home bar of the Impact ultras. It's one thing to visit it when it's not your team playing the Impact; it's another thing altogether when it is.
If your visit to Montreal is during the European soccer season -- which comes to an end this Saturday, with the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Juventus -- you should be able to find a place to watch your team. Given the 5-hour time difference between Montreal and London, and the 6-hour difference between Montreal and most of continental Europe, the Final will be over by the time you have to head out to the Red Bulls-Impact match. Note that not every big club -- or even "big club" -- has a presence in Montreal:
* Arsenal and Chelsea: Gooners and Blues meet at The Burgundy Lion, 2496 Notre-Dame Ouest & Charlevoix. Orange Line to Lionel-Groulx.
* Liverpool and Bayern Munich: Fans of both the Mersey Reds and Die Roten meet at the Irish Embassy, 1234 Rue Bishop and Rue Ste-Catherine. Red Line to Lucien-L'Allier.
* Manchester United: Man U fans meet at Station Des Sports, 2051 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest. Green Line to Atwater.
* Tottenham Hotspur: Those dumb demented Spuds meet at Kelly's Pub, 88 Avenue Donegani and Avenue King. Bus 204. Their New York counterparts also once met at a Kelly's, on the Lower East Side, before moving to their current location, Flannery's in Chelsea.
* Paris Saint-Germain: PSG fans meet at Das Bier, 5889 Avenue Papineau. Orange Line to Beaubien, then Bus 18 to Papineau.
* Olympique de Marseille vs. Lorient, 11:00 AM Saturday: L'OM fans meet at La Massillia (Hey, if Paris fans can meet at a place with a German name, Marseille fans can meet at a place with an Italian name), 4543 Avenue du Parc. Orange Line to Mont-Royal, then Bus 97.
* Real Madrid: Not sure where Madridistas meet, but it could be at Club Espagnol, where fans of the Spain national side meet. 4388 Blvd. Saint-Laurent. Orange Line to Mont-Royal, then a bit of a walk.
* Barcelona: Cules meet at Champs, 3956 Blvd. St-Laurent. Orange Line to Sherbrooke, then a bit of a walk.
* Juventus: Juventini meet at Bruno Sport Bar, 313 Rue Beaubien Est, near Jarry Park. Orange Line to Beaubien.
* AC Milan: Milanisti meet at CioCiaro, 8868 Blvd. Langelier, in the suburb of Saint-Léonard. Green Line to Langelier, then Bus 33 to Lacoursiere.
* Internazionale Milano: Interisti meet at Café Milano, 5188 Rue Jarry Est, also in Saint-Léonard. Green Line to Cadillac, then transfer to Bus 32 to Jarry.
* Other Italian teams: Cafe Olympico is said to be a home for fans of the Italian national team. 124 Rue St-Viateur Ouest, off Rue Waverly. Orange Line to Rosemont, then a bit of a walk.
* Borussia Dortmund: BVB supporters meet at Peel Pub, 1196 Rue Peel & Blvd. de Maisonneuve. Green Line to Peel. Oddly, Bayern and BVB supporters appear to have switched main pubs since last season: Then, Bayern met at Peel and BVB at the Embassy.
* Ajax Amsterdam: Not sure if it's official for Ajacieden, but fans of the Dutch national team meet at Taverne Normand, 1550 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est. Orange Line to Mont-Royal, then Bus 97.
If you don't see your club listed here, try either the Burgundy Lion or the Irish Embassy.
Sidelights. Montréal is much cleaner than most American cities, mainly because Canada believes in using government for, you know, essential services, including proper sanitation, rather than in giving kickbacks to corporations that claim to create jobs but don't. But the city does have some bad neighborhoods. Still, you should be okay if you stay out of the East End -- or, if you really must go there, are willing to speak French there and give lip service to the separatist cause. In the meantime, check out these locations:
* Olympic Stadium. Also at Parc Olympique, the official address of Stade Olympique (also known as the Big O, for the Big Owe for the 30 years it took to pay off its construction) is 4141 Avenue Pierre-de Coubertin. Since it was built for the 1976 Olympics, the street was renamed for the French baron who founded the modern Olympic Games in 1896. (I can't find a record of what it was named before.) The stadium famously looks like a flying saucer. The Olympic Tower, at 574 feet the tallest inclined tower in the world, supports the cables that hold the fabric roof in place.
It was built for the 1976 Olympics, and for baseball's Montreal Expos, who played here from 1977 to 2004. The Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes did so from 1976 to 1986, and again in 1996 and 1997, and have played their Playoff games here since 1998. It was also home to the Montreal Manic of the old North American Soccer League from 1981 to 1983, and the Montreal Machine of the World League of American Football in 1991 and 1992.
Roberto Duran defeated Sugar Ray Leonard for the Welterweight Championship here in 1980, 4 years after Leonard won an Olympic Gold Medal at the Forum. (Leonard got his revenge 5 months later at the Superdome in New Orleans.) Pope John Paul II held a youth rally here in 1984, and many concerts have been held here. It hosted games of the 2015 Women's World Cup, including the U.S. team's Semifinal win over Germany.
It has held preseason games here, on the last weekend before the regular season starts, for 4 straight years, to show current Commissioner Rob Manfred that his predecessor, Bud Selig, got it wrong, and that the city can support a Major League Baseball team.
The field is artificial (naturally, since it's under a meant-to-be-permanent roof), and runs north-to-south.
* Victoria Rink. Opened on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1862, and named for Queen Victoria, it was described at the dawn of the 20th Century as "one of the finest covered rinks in the world." On March 3, 1875, it hosted what is believed to be the very first indoor hockey game, anywhere in the world, complete with 9 men on a side, goaltenders (not a first but still unusual at that point), a referee, a puck rather than any kind of stone (as could be found in curling, then as now a popular sport in Canada), and both rules and time predetermined -- 60 minutes, as with today's hockey, although no separation into periods.
The Victoria Skating Club played a team made up of students of nearby McGill University -- often considered Canada's answer to Harvard, and the year before it had played Harvard in a game that was vital to the development of football in North America -- and the Victorias won, 2-1.
The Montreal Hockey Club (or the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, or "Montreal AAA") was awarded the 1st Stanley Cup in 1893, and it hosted the 1st Cup playoff games in 1894. The Victoria Hockey Club won the Cup while playing there in 1895, 1897, 1898 and 1899. The Montreal Shamrocks defeated them for the Cup in 1899 (more than one "challenge series" could be held per year in those days), and won it again in 1900. The rink also hosted some of North America's first figure skating competitions.
It was torn down in 1925, and a parking garage was built on the site. Rue Drummond & Blvd. René-Lévesque Ouest, adjacent to a Sheraton hotel. Metro: Lucien-L'Allier.
* Jubilee Arena. This building didn't last too long, built in 1909 and burning down in 1919, a year after the fire that destroyed Westmount Arena, forcing the Canadiens, who started here, move to Mount Royal Arena. This arena's construction led to the founding of both the Canadiens and the National Hockey Association, the precursor to the National Hockey League. 3100 Rue St-Catherine Est at Rue Moreau. Bus 34.
* Mount Royal Arena. Home to the Canadiens from 1920 to 1926, the Habs won the 1924 Stanley Cup while playing there. It only seated 6,000, so when they were offered the chance to move into the larger Forum, they jumped at it. Mount Royal Arena was converted into a concert hall and then a commercial building, before burning down in 2000. A supermarket is now on the site. 50 Avenue du Mont-Royal Ouest & Rue Saint-Urbain. Bus 55.
* Montreal Forum and Westmount Arena. The Yankee Stadium of hockey, the Forum opened on November 29, 1924, and the Canadiens played there from 1926 until 1996, winning 22 of their 24 Stanley Cups in that span. (They won 2 before moving in, in 1916 and 1924.) The Montreal Maroons also played there, winning the Stanley Cup in 1926 and 1935.
The Canadiens clinched on home ice in 1930, 1931, 1944, 1946, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1965, 1968, 1979 and 1993; and on the road in 1958, 1960, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1986. Famously, the Canadiens never had an opponent clinch the Cup on Forum ice until 1989, when the Calgary Flames did it, the reverse of 1986 when the Habs clinched in Calgary. The Rangers clinched the 1928 Cup on Forum ice against the Maroons, who hung on through the Great Depression for as long as they could, but finally went out of business in 1938.
In 1937, the Forum hosted the funeral of Howie Morenz. the Canadiens star known as "The Babe Ruth of Hockey," and later that year hosted the Howie Morenz Memorial Game as a benefit for his family, between a combined Canadiens-Maroons team and players from the other 6 teams then in the NHL, including New York's Rangers and Americans.
Elvis Presley never performed in Montréal -- or anywhere in Canada except shows in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver early in his career, in 1957 -- but The Beatles played at the Forum on September 8, 1964. In 1976, it hosted the Olympic gymnastic events, and it was there that Nadia Comaneci performed the 1st perfect 10 routine in Olympic history, having already gotten the 1st perfect 10 anywhere earlier in the year at what was still being called "the new Madison Square Garden."
In 1972, the Forum hosted Game 1 of the "Summit Series" between Canada and the Soviet Union, and the Soviets' shocking 7-3 win turned the hockey world upside-down before Canada won Games 6, 7 and 8 in Moscow to take the series. However, as I said earlier, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1975, CSKA Moscow, a.k.a. the Central Red Army team, with many of the players from the Summit Series, began a North American tour at the Forum, and what were then the 2 best club hockey teams on the planet played to a stirring 3-3 tie that effectively launched the Habs on a streak of 4 straight Cups, 1976-79, which stand alongside their 5 straight of 1956-60 -- not as many consecutive Cups, but 16 consecutive series won as opposed to 10.
The original seating capacity was 9,300 -- which was considered huge for an indoor stadium in the 1920s, before the building boom that the Forum helped start, leading to that era's incarnations of Madison Square Garden and the Boston Garden, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Chicago Stadium and the Olympia in Detroit. Capacity became 13,551 in 1949, and a 1968 renovation expanded it to a capacity of 16,259, pushed to 17,959 with 1,700 standees, with the tradition of the standees being let in first and rushing for position.
After an emotional closing ceremony on March 11, 1996, 20 years ago this Friday, the Forum was converted into a mall, complete with restaurants, a bowling alley and a movie theater. Roughly where the rink was, hockey markings have been painted onto the floor of the main walkway, and there's a small bleacher with sculptures of fans and a bench with a statue of Maurice Richard, waiting to take the ice one more time. So, unlike the original Yankee Stadium and the original Boston Garden, the Montreal Forum still stands and is still being used, although not for its original purpose. 2313 Rue St-Catherine Ouest, at Avenue Atwater.
The Forum today
Atwater used to be the city line between Montréal and Westmount, before mostly-Anglophone Westmount was incorporated into the "megacity" of Montréal in 2002. The Westmount Arena, right across from the Forum but in a separate city, was sometimes known as the Montreal Arena for prestige purposes, and was designed specifically for hockey, a rarity at the time, and was perhaps the first ice rink in the world to have the rounded corners we have come to expect from hockey. It opened on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1898, and was the home of several teams.
The Montreal AAA team won the Stanley Cup there in 1902 and 1903, making it 4 Cups, and by 1906 it was an amateur team that lasted until 1961. The Montreal Wanderers played there, winning the Stanley Cup in 1906, 1907, 1908 and 1910. The Canadiens started playing there in 1911, and won the Cup there in 1916.
On January 2, 1918, 19 years to the week after it opened, a fire started in, ironically, the arena's ice-making plant, and burned it to the ground. No one died, but the Canadiens had to move back to Jubilee Arena, and the Wanderers went out of business. A shopping center, Place Alexis-Nihon, is now on the site. Both that shopping center and the Forum can be accessed by Atwater station on the Metro.
* Bell Centre. Originally the Molson Centre, now renamed for Canada's national phone company, the Canadiens moved into this arena adjacent to Windsor Station, 5 days after closing the Forum, on March 16, 1996. It seats 21,288, and the Canadiens have never played to an unsold seat in those 20 years.
The original address was 1100 Rue de la Gauchetière. For the team's 100th Anniversary in 2009, it was relisted as 1909 Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal. Lucien-L'Allier or Bonaventure station on the Orange Line.
The tour is fantastic -- and, if you're a Devils fan as I am, you'll see that it, along with the new Philadelphia arena, served as a stylistic model for the Prudential Center. The tour price is C$24.
* Windsor Hotel. Often called Canada's first grand hotel and billing itself as "the best in all the Dominion," it stood from 1875 to 1981. The National Hockey League was founded here on November 26, 1917, with 5 teams: The Montreal Canadiens and Wanderers, the Toronto Arenas (forerunners of the Maple Leafs), the Ottawa Senators (not the team that uses the name today), and the Quebec Bulldogs. By 1934, all but the Habs and the Leafs would be out of business.
Following a fire in 1957, the hotel went into decline, and the North Annex is all that remains, now an office building and banquet complex called Le Windsor. 1170 Rue Peel at Rue Cypress. Metro: Peel or Bonaventure.
* Parc Jarry. Jarry Park Stadium was the original home of the Expos, from April 14, 1969 to September 26, 1976. It was meant as a temporary facility, seated only 28,456, and had a pool beyond right field that was the resting place for a few long home runs. Expos pitcher Bill Stoneman pitched the 2nd of his no-hitters there, and in the park's last MLB game, the Phillies clinched their first 1st-place finish in 26 years.
Now known as Stade Uniprix, in 1995 it was converted into a tennis stadium, with one end still recognizable as the home-plate seating area from Jarry Park. 285 Rue Faillon Ouest at Rue Gary-Carter. (Carter played his 1st 2 seasons there.) Metro: Parc. (Not to be confused with the Metropark train station on the Woodbridge-Edison border back in New Jersey.)
With the Expos gone, the closest MLB team to Montreal is, surprise, not the other Canadian team, the Toronto Blue Jays, 343 miles away; but the Boston Red Sox, 309 miles away. Likewise, the Boston Celtics are the closest NBA team, 307 miles away. If Montreal did get a new team, the metro area would rank 20th in MLB population.
According to an article in the May 12, 2014 New York Times, Montreal basketball fans divide their fandom between the Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Miami Heat. How LeBron James' return to the Cleveland Cavaliers affects that, I don't know.
* Site of Delorimier Stadium. Home of the Montreal Royals from 1928 to 1960, and the Alouettes from 1946 to 1953, this 20,000-seat stadium was one of the best facilities in the minor leagues, and was Jackie Robinson's 1st home field in "organized ball." It was demolished in 1971 and replaced by a school, with a plaque honoring Robinson and the Royals. 2101 Rue Ontario Est & Avenue de Lorimier. Bus 125.
* Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Built in 1915, this stadium has been the home field for McGill University athletic teams, and was used by the Alouettes from 1947 to 1967, and again since 1998, although with only 25,012 seats, they still need to move into the Olympic Stadium for their Playoff games. It also hosted the 2014 edition of Canada's National Championship for college football, the Vanier Cup, with the Université de Montréal (UdeM) defeating McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario.
It was named for Captain Percival Molson, a former McGill sports star and member of the Molson brewing family (which, for a time, owned the Canadiens), who was killed in action in World War I. 475 Avenue des Pins (Pine Avenue) at Rue University. Metro: McGill.
* Autostade site. The Autostade was built as part of Expo '67, the World's Fair that announced the city's entry into the modern world (and gave the baseball team its name). It opened in 1966, and the Alouettes played there from 1968 to 1976.
But it was not a popular venue, due less to its weird look (the Sixties were a great decade for many things, but architecture was not one of them) than to its location, on an island in the St. Lawrence River, making it cold even in the summer. The Als moved to the Olympic Stadium for the 1977 season, and the Autostade was demolished shortly thereafter. Rue de Irlandais and Chemin de Moulins, southeast corner. Bus 168.
* Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Opened in 1958, its namesake -- and her namesake, the widow of King George VI that our generation knew as the Queen Mother -- stayed here, as have other monarchs, Presidents, Prime Ministers and legendary entertainers. From May 26 to June 2, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their "Bed-In For Peace" at Room 1742, and recorded "Give Peace a Chance" there. 900 Blvd. René-Lévesque Ouest at Rue University. Metro: Bonaventure.
(René Lévesque was Premier of Québec from 1976 to 1985, leading the Parti Québecois, attempting to get the Province to become independent from Anglophone Canada. His 1980 referendum fell well short, he lost power in 1985, and he died in 1987 without getting another chance. For the better part of a decade, he and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau waged an epic battle for the hearts and minds of Québec for the better part of a decade. The street now named for Lévesque was previously named Dorchester Street.)
* Historic sites. Canada's Prime Ministers don't have the kind of building equivalent to a Presidential Library. Of Canada's 15 deceased Prime Ministers, 2 are buried in or near Montréal. John Abbott was PM for only a year and a half in 1891 and 1892, and is buried at Mount Royal Cemetery. In contrast, Pierre Trudeau was PM for all but 9 months between April 1968 and June 1984, and is, depending on your stance on the role of government and the status of Québec, either the most-loved or the most-hated head of government in Canada's history. He is buried at Saint-Remi Cemetery, about 20 miles southwest of the city in Saint-Remi.
George-Etienne Cartier was Premier of "Canada East" prior to Confederation (their first step toward independence) in 1867, and along with the Anglophone Sir John A. Macdonald of "Canada West" was essentially the Francophone "Founding Father" of Canada. (They call their Founding Fathers "the Fathers of Confederation.") Essentially, the Fathers were afraid that, with America's Civil War over, their country would be next -- an understandable belief, since attempts to take Canada from Britain by force had been made during the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and had also been threatened in the 1840s. Cartier's home is a National Historic Site, at 458 Rue Notre-Dame Est at Rue Berri. Metro: Champ-de-Mars.
Also accessible by Champ-de-Mars station is Place Jacques-Cartier, where the French explorer of that name -- no relation to George-Etienne -- discovered the islands that became the city. It is the gateway to Old Montreal (Vieux-Montréal), and unlike New York, which is actually older (founded 1624 as opposed to 1642), a lot of 17th and 18th Century Montréal buildings remain.
* Museums. The city's version of the Museum of Natural History, Pointe-à-Callière, is at 350 Place Royale at Rue de la Commune Ouest. Metro: Place-d'Armes. Their equivalent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, is at 1380 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest at Rue Crescent, just off the Concordia University campus. Metro: Peel or Guy-Concordia.
The McCord Museum of Canadian History is at 690 Rue Sherbrooke Ouest at Rue University. Metro: McGill, although its relative proximity to the Museum of Fine Arts allows you to do one right after the other.
* Delis. That wonderful smoked meat, Montréal's take on the classic bagel, and other delicatessen delicacies, can be picked up in lots of places, but 2 stand out: Schwartz's, 3895 Blvd. Saint-Laurent at Rue Milton, Metro: Sherbrooke; and Wilensky's Light Lunch, immortalized in Mordecai Richler's novel The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and with scenes from the Alan Arkin movie based on it filmed there, 34 Avenue Fairmount Ouest at Rue Clark, Metro: Laurier and then a 10-minute walk. I've been to both, and recommend them highly.
Sadly, the legendary Bens, the oldest deli in the city, with its Art Deco entrance at 990 Blvd. de Maisonneuve Ouest at Rue Metcalfe (Metro: McGill or Peel), closed in 2006 and was demolished in 2008. Some of its memorabilia is now at the McCord Museum. An effort was made to preserve it as a historic site, but it failed.)
1250 Blvd. René-Lévesque, also known as the IBM-Marathon Tower, 3 blocks away, has a roof 653 feet high, but its spire rises to 741 feet. There are currently 7 buildings of at least 400 feet under construction in the city, but none will rise higher than "Le Mille" or "Douze Cinquante."
The Olympic Stadium was used as a stand-in for the Baltimore Ravens' stadium as the site of the Super Bowl destroyed by a terrorist bomb in The Sum of All Fears. And Casino de Montréal served as the exterior shot for the arena for both Blades of Glory and the 2002 remake of Rollerball.
Montréal is a great North American and world city. So if you feel like taking in soccer with a French flair, make sure your passport is in order, and head on up. Vive la difference!