I'm writing this an hour and a half before the puck is to drop on Game 3 of the Canadiens-Penguins series. I'm sitting in the middle of the FanJam 2010 street festival happening in front of the Bell Center, where the Habs play their home games.
The energy isn't quite as as it was two years ago during the Canadiens-Bruins playoffs — the year when we placed our hopes for the Stanley Cup on rookie Carey Price. But it's still quite electric. How can it not be? This is, after all, Montreal.
It's nice how a simple game can bring people together. In this morning's commute, the driver let us out at the terminal with a cheerful "Go Habs, go!" People dressed in Habs shirts and jerseys, sporting earrings, rings and pins all with the blue, white and red logo emblazoned on smiled at me throughout the day (although I'm sure the afternoon sunshine helped). I went out for lunch and got to see a bunch of men dressed in business suit kicking around a can in what they hoped would be 2010's Stanley Cup goal for the Canadiens, with the typical cry of "Et c'est le buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut!" (loosely translated as "Goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal!")
We're quite the dreamers, les Québécois.
But there is also a dark side to all of this. Amidst the revelers at FanJam 2010 are scalpers driving up the price of tickets to head spinning heights. I asked a couple for the price of a pair of tickets in the nosebleed section; the lower offer I got (for nosebleed seats) was $200. Each. For nosebleeds.
Did I mentioned they were nosebleeds?
If you want something to drink or a bite to eat, you have to spend more than double the normal price for a glass of beer or for snacks; nearby restaurants are known to jack up their prices during playoff season. And don't get me started on the price of memorabilia, which suddenly cost 10 to 50% more (especially if the name "Halak" appears on it). I can't help but roll my eyes at the booth sitting right across from me. Hopefully no one working there can see me.