Montrealers are lucky for almost innumerable reasons. The professional sports fans among us, however, are especially blessed in that there’s never a point in the calendar year when there isn’t a Montréal team to cheer on – be it the Montréal Canadiens, Alouettes or Impact – or some other major sporting event taking place. The following is a round-up of some of the can’t-miss biggies.
We’ll kick things off with the National Hockey League’s Montréal Canadiens (or “Habs,” from the French word “habitants”) because they’re always the biggest sports story in town at this time of the year as we head into the final stretch of the regular season. As usual, expectations are high for a team that’s in the fifth year of a rebuilding plan under well-respected General Manager Marc Bergevin. With a string of wins under new coach Claude Julien, the “bleu, blanc et rouge” are moving in the right direction as they approach the playoffs. The regular season wraps up April 9 (The Habs’ final home game is against Tampa Bay, April, at the Bell Centre), and playoff tix will be available here.
Montrealers looove their pigskin, and anticipation always runs high for the season start of our Canadian Football League Montréal Alouettes (or “Als”). Home field Percival-Molson Stadium, nestled into the side of Mount Royal, provides for a dramatic setting complete with scenic views of the city. But the fun isn’t only on the field. Before each home game, ticket holders are invited to the Alouettes’ tailgate party, featuring barbecues supplied for free by the Als (it’s bring your own food). A flurry, nay, a storm of off-season signings will make for an exciting, new-look team on the gridiron this year. The Alouettes open the season at home, June 22, against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, which will see new Al’s quarterback Darian Durant squaring off against his former teammates. Tickets are on sale now.
Though Montrealers may have lost their beloved Montréal Expos (“Nos Amours,” as they were affectionately called), they’ve never lost their love of the game of baseball. Quite the opposite: annual Major League Baseball exhibition games played at Olympic Stadium regularly attract upwards of 50,000 diehard ball fans (invariably fuelling hopes that America’s favourite pastime will once again make its return to the city). This year’s pre-season matchup features the Toronto Blue Jays taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates in back-to-back games, March 31 and April 1. Tickets are available here.
Montréal’s Major League Soccer team, the Montréal Impact, played yet another historic season in 2016, going to the Eastern Conference final for the first time in the club’s history. Though they eventually lost to rivals Toronto FC in the high-scoring, two-game home and away series, over 61,000 Impact fans packed Montréal’s Olympic Stadium for the contest, consolidating soccer’s place on the city’s sports stage. This year’s team is largely unchanged from the one that finished 2016, and its this seasoned group that will lead the charge against defending champions the Seattle Sounders at the Impact’s home opener, March 11, at Olympic Stadium. The next home game will be against Atlanta at the outdoor Stade Saputo, April 15. Best to buy your tickets in advance.
And “court” will be in session when the very best in men’s tennis return to lay down the law at the Rogers Cup in Montréal this summer, one of the most anticipated events on the city’s professional sports calendar (attendance in the past has topped 200,000). Expectations are high that the greats will be out in force this year: Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, as well as the next generation of men’s tennis stars in the form of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Jack Sock and Nick Kyrgios. All the action gets served up at Uniprix Stadium, Aug. 4-13, and tickets can be found here.
Up next:The best sports bars in Montréal