The Vegas Golden Knights have more Quebec-born players than the Montreal Canadiens
MONTREAL -- An against-the-odds comeback against and old rival, a sweeping victory in round two: the Montreal Canadiens have brought hope and excitement to a province in great need of a pick-me-up.
In some ways, the team’s victories have come to represent a newfound gusto in Quebec as it slowly re-emerges, hopefully for the last time, from pandemic-era restrictions.
In recent weeks, anti-Toronto chants have filled the air, brooms were brought to sweep the stadium-streets after Game 4 against the Jets, and Habs fans rejoined loved ones on terrasses to root for their beloved bleu-blanc-rouge.
What could be more Quebecois?
How about the roster?
On Monday, at 9 p.m. the Montreal Canadiens will start the semifinals against the Las Vegas Golden Knights: a desert-state team with more Quebec-born players that the province’s own roster.
The Habs are running three Quebecers this season, all in centre position: Alex Belzile (Riviere-du-loup), Phillip Danault (Victoriaville), and Laurent Dauphin (Repentigny).
On the Knights side: Centres Jonathan Marchessault (Cap-Rouge) and Nicolas Roy (Amos), Left-Winger William Carrier (LaSalle), and Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (Sorel).
“I sincerely hope for a loss for the Canadiens,” wrote Luc Ferrandez, former Plateau-Mont-Royal borough mayor, on social media Friday.
“I hope it hurts and that we tell ourselves forever that we could have won with more Quebec players.”
SUPPORT ACROSS CANADA
As the only Canadian team remaining in the playoffs, other major cities have put aside (some) of their differences to rally around the Canadiens.
On Thursday, the Habs flag was hoisted above Toronto city hall, as Mayor John Tory made good on a bet to Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.
At the provincial level, Premier Doug Ford wore a Canadiens jersey on the short end of a bet to Premier Francois Legault to give a word of support to the rival team:
“Bring the Stanley Cup home to Canada!”
Even with a minority of Quebec-born players, the Habs have a lead on running Canadians -- but it's a small one. On the Habs side, 19 players were born north of the border, while Vegas has only 17.
But who’s counting?
NHL playoff semifinals begin Monday, June 14, at 9 p.m. at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas
Follow along with CTV’s liveblog for real-time updates through the game.