Ticket | The Cup We Don’t Remember

Like more than a third of the current population of Quebec, I was not born in June 1993. I was not even a project, to tell the truth. So I have no memory of the last Stanley Cup won by the Canadiens.

Adding those who were under 5 years old at the time, 39% of Quebecers do not remember having witnessed Eric Desjardins’ hat trick in the final against the Los Angeles Kings. That’s a lot of people who will experience detachment, even misunderstanding, in the face of the media coverage highlighting the 30e anniversary of the last coronation of Saint Flanelle.

I did the unscientific exercise of surveying people around me – all in their twenties – to find out what the 1993 Stanley Cup meant to them. The simple idea was to describe in one word what this victory evoked for them.

Their answers?

Foggy. Euphoria. Miracle. Beyond the grave. Ghost. Riot. Indifference. Darkness. Fiction. Reverie. Mystical.

The idea was not to devalue the intoxication felt by the witnesses of this fabulous spring, but rather to make the privileged realize how much a simple parade of champions is a whim for my generation. This anniversary day has about the same sentimental value as All Saints’ Day or Dollard’s Day.

This famous June 9, 1993 was a Wednesday. A festive Wednesday evening, no doubt, but an almost banal Wednesday evening for those who have experienced it. It was another final. Another Cup. However, by being talked about this day and celebrating it every five years, it has become an ideal for us. Like a shooting star that we won’t see again anytime soon. For the older ones, it is just another star among those of the constellation twinkling in the heights of the Bell Centre.


Jacques Demers and Kirk Muller during the fashion show

We idealize this day because we read it, because we saw it. But we did not experience it.

Impossible for us, then, to remember a festive and tricolored Montreal. I’m talking to you about a time that people under 30 cannot know.

Not out of a desire to forget.

Because we weren’t given the chance to remember it.

In CEGEP, a game amused us, my classmates and me. It was necessary to name the most unknown or forgotten players having worn the Canadiens’ uniform during our childhood. Radek Bonk was often the first pick in the draft. Jan Bulis often came second. Alexander Perezhogin often completed the top three. Glen Metropolit, in a pinch. This is to say how much our generation of supporters has been spoiled when it comes to obscure players. At the time when, unconsciously, we believed that this was the standard of such a prestigious team. In fact, growing up, the Canadiens locker room was a real revolving door, where only José Théodore, Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov were the real doormen. Quickly, with the arrival of specialized channels and sites like YouTube, we discovered how much better there was elsewhere.

In my years in minor hockey, seeing one of my teammates put on the jersey of a Canadiens player in training was extremely rare. Gone are the days when this club was inspiring. Gone are the days when the idols of young Quebec hockey players wore blue-white-red. Until a certain PK Subban comes as a saviour. Carey Price and Max Pacioretty also left their mark. Still, the jerseys of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Pavel Datsyuk were much more coveted. And by far.

The only moment of glory that brought us closer to a frenzy like 1993 was the Halak Spring.

It was in 2010. From the outset, the CH made the skin with the Washington Capitals, champions of the trophy of the Presidents. The next round, he got rid of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In schools, there were “blue-white-red” themed days. Everyone wore their Canadiens jersey. Sometimes the same all week. There were gatherings in the courtyards. Even those who weren’t hockey fans were swallowed up by the tricolor wave. Forced to play the game. On the stop signs, tape on which was written “Halak”. On the cars, pennants with the Canadian logo. In our minds, the possibility of tasting in our turn the effervescence of a victorious epic. In our hearts, the impression of taking part in our first real big meeting together.

Finally, the Philadelphia Flyers got the better of the Canadian in five games in the next round.

The 2014 season, when the Canadian reached the semi-finals, was not stung either. But the team relied on only one player and he was injured by a train named Kreider.

We had to wait until 2021 before seeing the Canadiens advance this far in the playoffs. During the pandemic season. A season accompanied by so many asterisks that it is difficult to include it in the same category as the finals of yesteryear. It was an exceptional final. The exception confirming the rule: the Canadian has been unable, since, in ordinary contexts, to light the flame among his youngest supporters.

This detachment of the youngest from the club of an entire province has, however, had positive repercussions for Quebec sport.

Athletes aged 30 and under were not obsessed with the victorious ice laps of a battered captain with the trophy at arm’s length.

Thus, this decline in interest in the Canadiens, and hockey, has allowed the attention to be projected elsewhere. To highlight and promote other sports.

Who would have thought, 30 years ago, not only that an athlete from here would be able to win a stage of the Tour de France, triumph at the Alpine Skiing World Championships, be selected sixth in the NBA draft or aspire ranked first in the ATP rankings, but that he would also be able to be celebrated at his fair value as is the case today. This curiosity and interest in other disciplines is considerable among my contemporaries. The sports offer is attractive and the demand is growing.

Less hockey and more diversity. Most of them are still supporters of the Canadian, because it is necessary to live here. However, they were led to discover something else. That there was hockey, but not only.

Hockey, despite everything, still runs through our veins. He dwells in us. He is part of us as he should be part of future generations. But since we too have been waiting for our moment of glory, it is difficult to blame ourselves for having gone elsewhere. We do not deny the success of yesteryear. On the contrary. Thanks to him, we cling, telling ourselves that one day our turn will come. We too would like to be able to create memories on which to shiver for 30 years. A kind of big joint meeting for which we are still waiting for an invitation.

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