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The arena is where you'll find the team and its fans, where the wins are celebrated and the losses are never accepted. From Jubilee Arena to the Bell Centre by way of the legendary Forum, learn about the five arenas the Canadiens have called home since the team was founded in 1909.
Bell Centre is considered one of the most prestigious sports and entertainment facilities in North America and is one of the most booked buildings on the continent. The building officially became the Bell Centre on September 1st, 2002 following a transaction between Molson and Bell Canada in February 2002.
The Molson Centre officially became the new home of the Montreal Canadiens on March 16, 1996. That night, the Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers 4-2. On April 21, 1996, the Canadiens played their first ever playoff game at the Molson Centre, the blueshirts.
The Canadiens maintained an average of more than 20,000 spectators in each of their ten complete seasons since the opening of their new home. The Canadiens equalled, in 2006-07, their own NHL record for the most spectators to walk through the turnstiles in one season, at 872,193 fans.
Since moving to the Bell Centre, the Canadiens have played 420 home games with a record of 201 wins, 157 losses, 46 ties and 16 overtime losses. Christopher Higgins had the honor of recording the Canadiens' 1000th goal at the Bell Centre, a winning tally in a 2-0 victory over the New York Islanders, on March 28, 2006.
From Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau to Bob Gainey, Guy Lafleur and Patrick Roy without forgetting Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey and Larry Robinson, all of their legendary stories were written on the ice at the Forum. This revered puck temple would see the Canadiens claim 22 of their league-record 24 Stanley Cups while serving as the Habs home address.
With the glorious memories enjoyed at the Forum by players and fans alike, it may seem hard to believe but the arena was not intended to even belong to the Habs but rather Montreal's other team, the Maroons. The Canadiens celebrated the Forum's inception with a 7-1 drubbing of the Toronto St. Pats on Nov. 29, 1924. About a month later, on December 27, the Forum opens its doors to the first ever "All-Montreal" contest, as the Canadiens "pay a visit" to the Maroons. Despite two 10-minute overtime periods, the game can't declare a winner as the two rivals skate to a 1-1 tie. In 1926, the Canadiens leave the Mount-Royal Arena and make the Forum their new permanent home. They would share the building with the Maroons until 1938, when the Maroons folded.
With a seating capacity of a mere 9,300 spectators to begin with, the Forum was expanded to 13,551 seats in 1949. But the arena's true overhaul would come in prior to the 1968-69 season when the Forum would balloon to now accommodate 18,200 Canadiens fans. As a sign of how far the league has come, the first goal in the refurbished Forum belonged to Jean Béliveau, in a 2-1 win over Detroit on November 2,1968, while the last one came off the stick of Russian Andrei Kovalenko in a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on March 11, 1996.
Through those 74 storied years, the Forum was the site of many great moments, most of them festive, some other sad and dramatic. On March 11, 1937, this sports temple became a giant funeral home, where over 50,000 people walked before the coffin of the straford streak, Howie Morenz.
But arguably, the greatest symbol of the Forum remains Maurice Richard. In the fame building, the electrifying right winger went on to register the first 50-goal season in NHL history, a feat he accomplished in 50 games in 1944-45. On December 28, 1944, he had become the first NHL player to register an eight-point night, in a 9-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Ten years later, Maurice Richard would be the centerpiece of the most memorable event ever to take place at the Forum: the Richard Riot, on March 17, 1955, the result of the Rocket's suspension for the remainder of the regular season, as well as the entire playoffs, following an altercation with Hal Laycoe, of the Boston Bruins, four days earlier.
The long and thunderous ovation he received from hockey fans on closing night at the Forum, on March 11, 1996, is a living proof of the deep love Quebecers felt for Maurice Richard.
Located on Mount Royal Street, between St. Urbain and Clark streets, the arena was set to host Canadiens home games for a five-year period, starting in 1919-20, courtesy of a deal reached between the club and the Mount Royal Arena Company. On January 10, 1920, Newsy Lalonde delivered a stunning six-goal performance, leading the Habs to a 14-7 victory over the Toronto St. Patricks. Arena owners Tom Duggan, Hector Racine and Louis Gosselin invested $40,000 to provide a state-of-the-art ice playing surface, but legal problems would lead the Canadiens to move to the Forum permanently.
The Westmount Arena was located at the corner of Ste. Catherine Street West and Wood Avenue. The arena, owned by the Montreal Arena Company, was inaugurated on December 31, 1898. The building had two features that can still be found in every NHL amphitheatre today: a four-foot wall surrounding the playing surface and a band. The Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in March 1916 against the Portland Rosebuds. On January 2, 1918, flames ripped through the Westmount Arena. The fire destroyed the building and caused over $150,000 worth of damage.
The Jubilee Arena, located between Malborough and Seaver streets in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve district, was the Canadiens' home for their inaugural season, in 1909, and again between 1917 and 1919. The Jubilee Arena, with its natural ice surface and seating capacity of 3,000, was owned by Patrick Doran. On January 26, 1909, the Canadiens played their first home game, losing 8-4 to the Ottawa Senators. An electrical fire destroyed the building on April 23, 1919.