A home opener behind closed doors for the Habs

Virtual Red-Carpet and more for the Montreal Canadiens’ first game at the Bell Centre

The usually-packed Bell Centre will be eerily empty when the Habs face the Calgary Flames on Thursday night. File Photo Nikolas Litzenberger

On Thursday, Jan. 28, the Montreal Canadiens are back in action at the Bell Centre, and the Habs’ organization is setting up special programming across their social media platforms for fans throughout the day.

As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the NHL will host most of its games behind closed doors, with few exceptions in certain cities in the United States, according to ESPN. Prior to this unusual season, the Canadiens typically introduce the whole team and staff to the fans, as the players pass around a torch, as per tradition. The ceremony is capped off with the team’s captain lowering the torch towards the centre circle of the rink and engulfing the arena in flaming effects.

However, the Habs’ home opener will look much different this year, as fans will have to take in festivities from the comfort of their own homes. According to the team’s website, there will be trivia, DJ sets, Q&As, and sweepstakes live on their social media accounts as of 9 o’clock Thursday on Twitter, Instagram, Twitch and Facebook. 

The Habs will then have their first-ever Virtual Red-Carpet event in between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. prior to the match against the Calgary Flames. The Virtual Red-Carpet event will allow lucky Canadiens’ fans the chance to meet and have a brief chat over video with the team, followed by a special Q & A session with Canadiens’ owner, president and CEO, Geoff Molson. 

“They could have just went on with their game without doing anything,” Nick Lariviere said, a Habs super fan that is selected to attend the Virtual Red Carpet this Thursday. “But bringing in fans for virtual events shows they actually want to involve us.” 

“I think they are doing the best they can given the situation to include fans,” said Lariviere.

Lariviere has some expectations ahead of the event, from the event’s lay-out to potential special guests.

“I expect to see the Habs walk into the Bell Centre while giving some sort of fist bump,” said Lariviere. “Sort of like the normal festivities but virtual.” 

“Before the actual game, we may see someone like Ginette Reno sing the national anthem,” he predicted.

If you wish to partake in this event you can register here.