A look at what is, and what’s to come, for sports around Montreal as we head into the summer
It’s one of the best times of the year to be a sports fan. The NHL’s playoff matchups are being finalized as the postseason races get tighter, the MLB’s regular season has just gotten underway, the MLS has kicked off the North American soccer season and college basketball has crowned its March Madness champion. However, most students are too busy buried in books as finals are fast approaching. Well don’t fret sports fanatics, here’s what’s happening in Montreal’s major sport scenes, and what you can look forward to once your wretched semester is finally over.
The regular season finale will take place this Saturday, April 11 in Toronto. Yes, this Saturday. As Montreal has been on cruise control for the latter half of the season, the most important thing now is that the team stays healthy. On Sunday, April 5, Max Pacioretty left the game with what appeared to be a concussion, after he tripped and hit his head on the boards. Fighting for the top of the table in the Eastern conference with the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Canadiens have assured themselves a top-three finish. Whether or not they will be crowned the President’s trophy winner is irrelevant. Expect to see Dustin Tokarski in between the pipes for at least the last game of the season. Carey Price’s MVP season will mean nothing if he isn’t ready and rested by the time the first series begins. At their core, the Canadiens are still a flawed team. Too many times Price has stolen games. It’s yet to be seen if the Habs can provide enough scoring up front to really do some damage in the playoffs, especially with Pacioretty’s injury.
Okay so the Montreal Expos aren’t back, but the dream of their return is more vivid than ever. Over the past weekend, Montreal hosted a pair of exhibition games between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cincinnati Reds. Over 96,000 people filled the Olympic Stadium to show their support for baseball in the city, according to TSN. As a fan, it feels as if everything is ready to fall into place. Just give this city a team and let the fans’ passion take care of the rest. There’s only one problem, and it has been looming over the east end of Montreal for far too long: baseball is meant to be played outside and the stale smell of the Big O, coupled with the ominous lighting, felt more like a dungeon than a place for a professional team to call home. The next step is simple. Last week, the MLB’s commissioner Robert Manfred told The Canadian Press that “[Montreal needs] a plan for a major league facility. A firm, committed-to plan.” The MLB is listening—your move Montreal.
The CFL is in offseason mode now as teams and their scouts get ready for the upcoming rookie draft in mid-May, which will be held in Toronto. After that, it will be a short two weeks before players show up to training camp. While Montreal has made some roster acquisitions this offseason, the most intriguing pick up may be yet to come. On Tuesday, March 31, Alouettes general manager Jim Popp told the Montreal Gazette that there was a 50-50 chance that the team would sign Michael Sam before the team opens up training camp. Sam—the NFL’s first openly gay player who was drafted last season—is only 25 years old and may be perfect for the CFL. While he seems too slow and small for the NFL, his stature is ideal to play rush end in the CFL. According to the Montreal Gazette, the Alouettes obtained his exclusive CFL rights when Sam graduated from the University of Missouri, meaning they have first priority if he decides to play football in the CFL.
While the Montreal Impact have had an impressive Champions League run to begin their 2015 campaign, their MLS regular season play has not been as successful. Three games into the schedule, the Impact are still trying to earn their first win of the season as they sit ninth in the Eastern conference with a record of 0-1-2. Offense has been the biggest concern for Montreal fans in the early-season. The Impact have only scored two goals in the three games and have been shut out twice already. The Impact play Alajuelense on Tuesday, April 7, in their next Champions League matchup. As for the regular season, the Impact will look for their first win when they head to Houston to play the Dynamo on Saturday, April 11.