Le Centre Bell/Montreal Forum Articles

October 5, 2000
Copyright 2000 MediaVentures

The sale of Montreal's Molson Centre and the NHL Canadiens could come by the end of the year to a consortium of investors. Up to 15 bidders have reportedly expressed interest in the properties. Bids were due in mid-September. The team and venue are being auctioned off by owner Molson Inc., who says it is losing money on both.

The team has about 13,700 season ticket holders, down 2,000 over the past several years. Sales are expected to move back up to the 16,000 range.

Au revoir Forum, bienvenue Molson Centre

MONTREAL (AP)(Mar 12, 1996 - 21:58 EST) -- It seems almost sacriligious: The Montreal Canadiens placed their Stanley Cup banners on auction Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after they won the final hockey game at the fabled Forum.

The 24 championship banners that lent an aura of intimacy to the most famous hockey rink in the world are too small for the team's new home, the vast 21,361-seat Molson Centre. They will be replaced by replicas twice as large.

The current Canadiens, battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, open their new home on Saturday night with a game against the New York Rangers, hoping to forge a legacy of their own in the new building.

"For the guys that played tonight, they're going to have to build up their own history," former Canadiens' great Guy Lafleur said Monday night after the Habs defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 in the Forum finale. "They're going to want, I am sure, to make it bigger than the Forum. I'm sure they're going to keep it high."

That will be a difficult task. One only had to witness the closing ceremony at the Forum to realize that.

The standing-room-only crowd of 17,959, filled with emotion and respect for the great players who really were the Forum since it opened in 1924, got one final glimpse of the best of the living legends after the final siren sounded.

One by one, a couple of front-office geniuses and 23 former players paraded onto the ice: Scotty Bowman, Sam Pollock, Bob Gainey, Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden, Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, Dickie Moore, Gump Worsley, Henri and Maurice "The Rocket" Richard -- and more.

The Rocket basked in an ovation that lasted nearly 10 minutes, often brushing away the tears from his eyes, his wife doing the same as she watched from the stands. Then Emile "Butch" Bouchard, the Canadiens' oldest living former captain, skated onto the ice with a torch, the legendary symbol of the team's heart.

"It was very emotional, especially at the end," said Lafleur, whose blazing speed, deft stick-handling and blistering slap shot helped lead the Canadiens to four straight Stanley Cups at the close of the 1970s. "It reminds me, and I'm sure a lot of guys who were on the ice, that the first words that we learned when we first stepped into the room were about the torch. The first thing they show you is what's written on the wall."

The torch, which will follow the team to its dressing room in the Molson Centre, was the brainchild of former Canadiens coach Dick Irvin. In 1940, Irvin took a verse from a World War I poem, "In Flanders Fields," and had it emblazoned on the locker room wall: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be yours to hold it high."

Bouchard passed the torch to The Rocket, who in turn passed it along to other former captains of hockey's most storied team until it landed in the hands of Pierre Turgeon, the captain today. The crowd roared in appreciation of hockey's only true dynasty, one that will be impossible to duplicate in the scheme of things today.

In a way, it was fitting that the Canadiens bade farewell to the Forum against the Dallas Stars instead of one of the original six teams that made up the NHL when it was formed in 1917. It really punctuates the end of an era. It is no secret why the NHL has lost three of its most cherished arenas in the past two years. Money drives the league as never before, so there no longer is a Montreal Forum, a Chicago Stadium, a Boston Garden.

It didn't take workers long to begin dismantling some of the Forum's tangible memories. They were at it as soon as the final tribute was paid, attacking the scoreboard, the benches, and the seats. Proceeds from Tuesday's auction will go to charity and the Canadiens' old-timers' association.

"It's a little bit sad that we've outgrown a place that has been so good for the sport of ice hockey for over 70 years," said Gainey, now general manager of the Stars. "I also don't think it will take long before the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens will be really happy that they're in their new building."

Added Henri Richard, who helped the Canadiens win 11 Cup championships in the building: "It's a little bit sad, but you always have to look ahead."

Forum Chronology

MONTREAL (CP) - Chronology of important dates in the history of the Montreal Forum:

January 1924
The Canadian Arena Company is formed to build the Forum at Atwater and Ste-Catherine streets in the city's west end - site of a former roller skating rink also called the Forum. Construction of the new $1.2-million building takes 159 days.
November 29, 1924
The 9,300-seat Forum opens. Stanley Cup champion Canadiens beat Toronto 7-1 on three goals from Billy Boucher, two goals by Aurel Joliat and singles from Silvio Mantha and Howie Morenz.
Montreal Maroons become first permanent hockey tenants.
April 6, 1926
Maroons win Stanley Cup at the Forum with 2-0 victory over the Victoria Cougars.
November 18, 1926
Canadiens move out of the Mount Royal Arena to share the Forum with the Maroons and lose their first game 2-1 to Ottawa..
April 3, 1930
Canadiens win the Cup at the Forum for the first time, downing Boston 4-3 in Game 2 of two-game series. Howie Morenz scores the winning goal.
April 14, 1931
The Canadiens defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 to win their fourth Stanley Cup; their second at the Forum.
March 17, 1932
The Canadiens defeat the NY Americans 10-4 as both teams combined to score an NHL-record 31 points in the game.
March 18, 1933
Habs goalie George Hainsworth and the Bruins' Tiny Thompson are perefect in a scoreless overtime draw, but their performances was overshadowed by the fact that Bruins defenseman Eddie Shore played the whole game with a broken rib.
February 8, 1934
Aurele Joliat plays in his 500th NHL game.
March 24-25, 1936
Longest game in Natonal Hockey League history played (176 minutes and 36 seconds) as Detroit beats Maroons 1-0 when Mud Bruneteau scores at 16:30 of the sixth overtime (ended at 2:25 a.m.) period of the opening game of a semifinal series.
Jan. 28, 1937
Howie Morenz breaks his leg in a game verses Chicago when his leg gets caught in the boards and a player falls atop him.
March 11, 1937
Centre ice funeral is held for Morenz, who died from complications of a leg injury. An estimated 50,000 people pay their respects.
November 2, 1937
A benefit auction and all-star game in tribute of Howie Morenz is held. NHL All-Stars defeat a team on Canadiens and Maroons 6-5 and help raise $20,000.
March 17, 1938
The Canadiens defeat the Maroons in the final game between the two teams as the Maroons fold operations at the end of the season.
June 22, 1938
The Maroons withdraw from the NHL. Team folds two months later.
November 3, 1940
Dick Irvin Sr. makes his debut as a Canadiens head coach as Montreal and Boston settle for a 1-1 tie.
October 31, 1942
Maurice "Rocket" Richard plays his first NHL game at the Forum as a Canadien.
Coach Dick Irvin forms the Punch Line with Richard, Toe Blake, and Elmer Lach. They score 350 goals in the next five seasons.
March 23, 1944
Maurice Richard scores all five goals in the Canadiens 5-1 playoff victory verses the Maple Leafs earning Richard all three stars by Montreal Herald columnist Elmer Ferguson.
March 30, 1944
Canadiens defeat the Maple Leafs 11-0 in a semi-final game; the largest shutout margin in playoff history.
April 13, 1944
The Canadiens beat Chicago 5-4 to win their fifth Stanley Cup; third on Forum ice.
Richard becomes first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season.
April 9, 1946
Canadiens beat Boston 6-3 to win their sixth Stanley Cup; fourth on Forum ice.
October 16, 1947
Doug Harvey plays his first game in a Canadiens uniform.
Forum is expanded to 13,551 seats at a cost of $600 000.
December 16, 1950
Jean Beliveau and Bernie Geoffrion play their first games in a Canadiens uniform.
January 27, 1951
Jean Believeau scores his first goal as a Canadien in a 4-2 win over Chicago.
February 17, 1951
The Canadiens pay tribute to the Rocket: Maurice Richard Night
October 29, 1951
Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen) and the Duke of Edinburgh watch the Canadiens beat the Rangers 6-1 as Floyd Curry scores a "Royal" hat trick.
October 11, 1952
The CBC broadcasts the first live television hockey game: "Hockey Night in Canada" makes its debut as the Habs play host to Detroit. Canadiens win 2-1.
November 1, 1952
Jacques Plante makes his debut in a Canadiens uniform in a 4-1 victory over the NY Rangers.
April 16, 1953
The Canadiens win their seventh Stanley Cup, their fifth at the Forum, with a 1-0 shutout victory over the Briuns.
March 17, 1955
NHL President Clarence Campbell suspends Maurice Richard for the remainder of the season. Angry at Richard's suspension for shoving a linesman, Forum fans riot, rampaging through the building and downtown streets.
November 5, 1955
Jean Beliveau scores three goals in 44 seconds against Boston in a 4-2 Canadiens win.
April 10, 1956
Canadiens beat Detroit 3-1 to win first of record five consecutive Stanley Cups.
April 16, 1957
The Canadiens win their ninth Stanley Cup (seventh on Forum ice) defeating the Bruins 5-1.
Sep. 24, 1957
The Molson family purchases the Canadiens from the Canadian Arena Co.
April 18, 1959
The Canadiens win their 11th Stanley Cup; eighth on home ice, defeating the Maple Leafs 5-3.
September 15, 1960
Maruice Richard retires with record 544 goals, plus 82 playoff goals.
March 16, 1961
Bernie Geoffrion scores 50 goals in one season as the Habs defeat Toronto 5-2.
April 9, 1963
The man who inspired the Forum, William Northey, dies.
Sam Pollack named general manager, rebuilds two more Canadiens dynasties.
May 1, 1965
The Canadiens win their 13th Stanley Cup (ninth on Forum ice) as they defeat the Blackhawks 4-0.
February 18, 1967
Rogatien Vachon makes his debut with the Canadiens stopping Detroit's Gordie Howe on a breakaway to record his first NHL save. Habs win the game 3-2.
May 11, 1968
The Canadiens win their 13th Stanley Cup, their 10th at the Forum, defeating the Blues 3-2. It marked the last game Toe Blake coached. It also marked the last game before the Forum went under a $9 million renovation increasing seating capacity to 14,000.
November 2, 1968
Another Forum renovation completed, bringing the building to its final capacity of 16,259 seats (17,959 with standing room). The basic frame, the stands and the seats remained intact. The $10 million renovation project was completed during the off-season (May-November), and despite the tight deadline, everything finished on schedule. The result was the present-day, air-conditioned arena that stoods at the corner of Atwater & Ste Catherine.
October 13, 1970
Roger Doucet sings the National Anthems at the Forum for the first time.
February 11, 1971
Jean Beliveau scores his 500th NHL goal in a 6-2 victory over Minnesota.
March 24, 1971
The Canadiens hold a Jean Beliveau Night honoring Beliveau for joining the 500 goal club.
June 9, 1971
Beliveau retires as a player and joins Canadiens' front office.
June 10, 1971
The Canadiens select Guy Lafleur as the NHL's No. 1 pick overall in the annual entry draft.
October 9, 1971
Guy Lafleur scores his first NHL goal as the Habs tie the Rangers 4-4.
December 30, 1971
The Molson brothers sell the Canadian Arena Co., and Le Club de hockey Canadien to Placement Rondelles Ltd, owned by Peter and Edward Bronfman.
September 2, 1972
International hockey comes of age when Soviet Union beats Canada 7-3 in opening game of an eight-game Canada-Soviet series eventually won by Canada.
December 6, 1972
Toe Blake Night.
January 8, 1973
Larry Robinson plays his first NHL game at the Forum.
March 29, 1975
Guy Lafleur becomes the third Canadien to score 50 goals in one season as the Habs beat the Kansas City Scouts 4-1.
December 31, 1975
Canadiens tie Soviet Red Army 3-3 in memorable exhibition game.
July, 1976
Nadia Comaneci of Romania becomes the first gymnast ever to score a perfect 10 for a routine at the Montreal Olympics. American boxers Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks and Leon Spinks also win Olympic gold.
September 1976
Darryl Sittler scores in overtime to give Canada a 5-4 win over Czechoslovakia to clinch Canada Cup title.
August 4, 1978
Molson Breweries purchases Le Club de Hockey Canadien from the Bronfman family.
May 10, 1979
In what will always be remembered as the "Too Many Men on the Ice" game, the Habs trailed the Bruins 4-3 late in the third period of Game 7 of the 1979 Semi-Finals and went on to win 5-4 in overtime to advnace the the Cup Finals.
May 21, 1979
Canadiens down New York Rangers 4-1 to clinch fourth consecutive Stanley Cup title.
October 6, 1982
Mats Naslund of Sweden becomes the first European to play regularly with the Canadiens.
October 25, 1984
Guy Lafleur scores his 518th goal, his last with the Canadiens, as the Habs beat the Sabres 3-2.
November 26, 1984
Guy Lafleur announces his retirement from the Canadiens.
January 12, 1985
Commemorating their 75th Anniversary, the Canadiens announce their all-time Dream Team.
February 16, 1985
Guy Lafleur plays his last game for Montreal. He comes out of retirement three years later with New York Rangers.
October 18, 1986
The Canadiens obtain their 5001 NHL point (an NHL record) beating Winnipeg 5-3 at the Forum.
May 25, 1989
The Calgary Flames beat the Canadiens 4-2 becoming the only visiting team ever to win the Cup on Forum ice.
August 24, 1989
Team president Ronald Corey calls for a new report to study the feasibility of building a new arena after it was concluded that renovating the existing Forum was no longer an option.
February 25, 1990
Eric Desjardins scores the 15,000th NHL goal at the Forum in a 6-5 overtime victory over the St. Louis Blues.
April 3, 1991
Ronald Corey announces the site of their new home situated next to the Windsor Station in the heart of downtown Montreal.
February 6, 1993
The 44th NHL All-Star Game is played; the last of 11 All-Star games the Forum would host.
June 9, 1993
Canadiens beat Los Angeles 4-1 to clinch 24th Stanley Cup title - and last at the Forum - in Cup's 100th anniversary season.
June 22, 1993
Construction begins at new Molson Centre.
December 2, 1995
Patrick Roy plays his last game as a Canadien as Detroit pounces the Habs 11-1; the Habs worst defeat in Forum history.
March 11, 1996
The Canadiens play their last game at the Forum defeating the Dallas Stars 4-1. The night was highlighted with a special post game ceremony of Habs greats and the passing of the torch amongst Canadiens captains.
March 12, 1996
The Canadiens hold a super auction selling off Forum memorabilia to the highest bidder raising $750,000 for charity.
March 15, 1996
A parade moves the Canadiens from the Forum to their new home - The Molson Centre.

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