The torch business was a bit silly. Even the players seemed skeptical. Plekanec, who has been in Montreal a long while and has had to perform a great many ceremonial duties, frowned apologetically, as if he was already rehearsing his post-game mea culpas. Budaj chewed gum with the bland just-another-day-at-the-office expression which is so becoming on a backup goalie. Armstrong looked petrified; Bouillon looked teary; Pacioretty tried to stifle a smirk, with only moderate success. Erik Cole seemed to briefly consider swinging the torch round the bowl and screaming ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?!? Perhaps the only player who got it exactly right was Galchenyuk, who held that fuckin’ thing high like the Statue of Liberty, his features set in a mask of fierce determination, with the total lack of irony common to overachieving teenagers and Habs fans in the throes of history.
It’s said that Montreal does ceremony well, but that depends on what you like in your ceremonies. Certainly no one in the NHL does it quite like the Habs. Other teams pump themselves up for the season with highlight reels and Nickelback. The Canadiens do it with old men, black and white photos, and live reenactments of poetry from the Great War. Such sepia sincerity would look ridiculous on any other franchise. Truth be told, sometimes it looks a little ridiculous on us.