Going to a Montreal Canadiens hockey game is an absolute must if you’re in town during our less, uh, temperate months. Because, although Montreal has a distinct nightlife scene, nothing is more deeply ingrained into the consciousness of local Montrealers than the ups and downs of their beloved Habs…
If you’re coming from out of town, you may have already talked about the MONTREAL CANADIENS with your cab driver, hotel concierge or some guy in the elevator. During the hockey season (and frankly, during the off-season as well), the fate of the Habs, as they’re known here, is the common conversational thread that ties the city together. Who had a great game, who do we think is a bum this week and how much better are we doing than the Toronto Maple Leafs? These are the important questions. There’s a good reason for this obsession. The Canadiens, founded in 1909, are one of the “Original Six” teams that have been around since the league started up. In that time they’ve won 24 Stanley Cups, more than any other NHL team —and that’s just a cursory look. Visit, if you dare, the HABINSIDEOUT.COM blog, which describes the team in such detail it’s almost terrifying.
Seeing a game in person is an exhilarating experience, even for people who are not obsessed with hockey. Games have been held in the Bell Centre ever since the team moved from the historic Montreal Forum in 1996. The place comes alive in a way that must be experienced at least once. Watching the game on TV cannot compare. So, if you’re in Montreal and want to see a game, how is that done?
Like I said, the Canadiens are a Montreal-wide obsession, so all of the season tickets are sold out early. But there are some options. On the 15 of every month, through the Montreal Canadiens website, they release more tickets for the next month’s games. Basically you just log in to a waiting room, then it’s a lottery to see when you get to choose your tickets. There also other less official paths. If you go online, do a quick check on Ebay or Craigslist. The traditional offline version is to cave in to scalpers you can find outside the Bell Centre. I’m going to leave that one in your hands, but here’s a tip: if you willing to wait until about 10 minutes after the start of the game, the prices drop dramatically.
If you can’t get a ticket to the game, there’s no reason you still can’t watch it in one of Montreal’s many nightlife destinations. There are, of course, the ever-popular sports bars like Champs, the Bell Centre-adjacent Cage au Sports or the always wild Chez Serge (caution: there may be table-dancing). But, as I mentioned before, the Canadiens are a Montreal-wide obsession so you can pretty much pick any bar across the city and they’ll probably have the game on. Personally, I’m a fan of the decidedly unglamorous but wonderfully boisterous Copacabana on St-Laurent. And, depending on how the night went, you can either go upstairs to go dancing at Korova or head straight home and complain about them on the Habsinsideout blog.