Is there a fan-base better in the NHL better suited to celebrate St. Patrick than the Montreal Canadiens? Our club directly benefited from his unbelievable goaltending to the tune of 2 stolen Stanley Cups. His jersey hangs in our rafters. OK, sure.. Colorado certainly may have a claim in that case too.
Most people around the world are celebrating the other St Patrick today. Boston surely has the inside track on that St. Patrick. The ‘southie’ St. Patrick’s Day parade is legendary – which I’ve joyfully witnessed first hand. You can’t go far in that city without stumbling upon Irish roots… just watch where you’re walking on March 17th – given the unidentifiable green substances littering the sidewalks and alleyways.
The NHL has even had a team named after the Irish patron saint. The St Pats, now known as the Maple Leafs represented Toronto between 1919 and 1927 in the NHL – winning the Stanley Cup in 1922.
Still, Montreal itself has connections of note to Ireland that reach far back in its own history. Irish immigration to the Montreal since the famine of 1845-1852 has resulted in a large community within Quebec. 160,000+ current-day-Montrealers describe themselves as having Irish descent. Irish roots were already strong in Montreal when J. Ambrose O’Brien founded the Montreal Canadiens in 1909. The Irish descendant son of a Senator essentially founded the National Hockey Association which eventually became the NHL. He owned the team for a single season before he sold it to George (Kendall) Kennedy, a half-Scottish-half Irish former wrestler for $7500. Born Kendall, but known professionally as Kennedy, he owned the club until 1921 when he succumbed to the Spanish-Flu pandemic that killed at least 3% of the world’s population.
Here’s to Montreal’s Irish past connections and current-day fans. And let’s not forget the red-bearded Paul Mara who simply could not be a better stereo-type if he tried.
Go Habs Go!!!!