Thursday, January 1, 2009

Glad I missed this

Most times, I regret having to drive home from hounding in Tampa so I can get into the office at the prescribed hour. This past Tuesday, with the Montreal Canadiens, was no different. Because I had to work -- reading back on stories and rewriting the occasional headline -- Colin and I were limited to just the morning session.

From what I hear, though, I should be happy I had to work that evening. No fewer than three hounds told me the game-time hounding session for the Canadiens could be summed up in two words: mob scene.

Between a larger-than-normal complement of Hockey Bay hounds and a sizable clutch of French-speaking Habs fans enjoying a holiday week of Florida sunshine, estimates for Tuesday's game-time crowd ranged from 75 to 100.

The crowd was so big and unruly that hotel security, who tried to escort the Habs' bigger-name players to the team's bus, apparently lost control of the crowd. How bad did it get? Well, the driver of the team's bus reportedly had to keep fans from climbing aboard.

All the time, I was about 20 miles away, content in my chair at the office, knowing full well that we had a solid morning, snagging 43 autographs. And, as you can see, my main project was a Canadiens team helmet, which 22 players and coaches took the time to sign:

Signing the right side, shown above, were, from left: Alex Tanguay (shown, in better detail, at left), Ryan O'Byrne, Maxim Lapierre, Tom Kostopolous, Bob Gainey and Andrei Markov.

Signing the left side were, from left: Carey Price, Guillaume Latendresse, Doug Jarvis, Francis Bouillon and Patrice Brisebois.

Signing the front were, from left: Steve Begin, Ben Maxwell, Mike Komisarek, Roman Hamrlik and Kirk Muller.

Signing the middle were, from left: Sergei Kostitsyn, Josh Gorges, Matt D'Agostini, Tomas Plekanic, Andrei Kostitsyn and Roland Melanson.

Who did I miss? Most of the Canadiens stars, including Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang, who said they'd sign after the morning skate but waited until game time to sign a handful of autographs for the crowd.

We'll also have to add coach Guy Carbonneau and goalie Jaroslav Halak as well as injured players Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, George Laraque and Mathieu Dandenault.

Still, though, a pretty respectable effort in the morning and certainly no complaints for missing a mob scene.

Other highlights included:

~ veteran defenseman Patrice Brisebois reminding Colin that patience is, indeed, a virtue;
~ Halak becoming the 11th player to sign the Slovakian team jersey; and
~ having a game-used stick for Tampa Bay goalie Karri Ramo, an emergency AHL call-up staying at the same hotel as the Habs and their willing-to-travel faithful.

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