Montreal fans ready for Habs to take to the ice in front of crowd

·3 min read
Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action on Saturday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action on Saturday. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press - image credit)

For the first time in more than a year, the Montreal Canadiens are gearing up to play in front of a hometown crowd Saturday night and Pakesso Mukash had no intention of missing out even if it's a bit outside of his price range.

"It's the Habs and the Leafs. Not that I can afford to go, but how could I not go? It's just so historic," he said.

On Ticketmaster, the cheapest tickets to Saturday's game were selling for about $1,500 while the most expensive cost $12,000 each.

"And I can tell you, I'm not in that top bracket," Mukash said with a smile.

Quebec loosened COVID-19 restrictions on Friday, allowing up to 2,500 fans into the 21,273-seat Bell Centre for Game 6 of the first-round playoff series.

The crowds will be separated into groups of 250, all with their own sections, entrances and exits.

"When I think of the Bell Centre tonight, I don't see 2,500 spectators. I see one year of sacrifices and relentless effort on behalf of all Quebecers," said Quebec Premier François Legault on Twitter Saturday. "It makes me really proud!"

Maya Soren and Pakesso Mukash are two of the lucky 2,500 Habs fans going to watch the game at the Bell Centre tonight, paying in the thousands for the tickets. Baby Naahiyu is staying home.
Maya Soren and Pakesso Mukash are two of the lucky 2,500 Habs fans going to watch the game at the Bell Centre tonight, paying in the thousands for the tickets. Baby Naahiyu is staying home. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

With so few seats available, tickets are a hot commodity — especially after so long since spectators were allowed to watch from the stands.

The Canadiens say they gave priority to season-ticket holders, luxury-suite holders and corporate partners to purchase tickets in pods of two or four.

Ticket holders are allowed to resell tickets.

According to the team, tickets were sold in pairs with the intention that the people sitting together would be from the same household.

While not as big of a crowd as the pre-pandemic days, people started filing in early to the Bell Centre on Saturday.
While not as big of a crowd as the pre-pandemic days, people started filing in early to the Bell Centre on Saturday.(Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)

Each pair of seats will be at least two metres apart from any other group.

All fans must physically distance themselves from those outside their bubble and those aged five and up must wear a mask except when eating or drinking. Only bottled water will be sold at concessions.

The first 12 rows also will remain empty.

"The pandemic's hit the people here as hard as anywhere in our country, and the people deserve this,'' Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher said.

"They were disciplined, they listened to what was being asked of them. And these are the rewards that were earned.''

While the team was getting ready, Montrealers were celebrating in different ways on Saturday. Emily Dupras, for example, went to Adrénaline, a tattoo shop on Sherbrooke Street, to get some free Canadiens ink by Derek Farrell.

Emily Dupras got a Canadiens logo tattooed on her back by Derek Farrell at Adrénaline, a tattoo shop on Sherbrooke Street.
Emily Dupras got a Canadiens logo tattooed on her back by Derek Farrell at Adrénaline, a tattoo shop on Sherbrooke Street.(Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Chris Saliba, the owner of the shop, said everybody was choosing the team's logo. Adrénaline often gives out tattoos before a game and people line up early.

Others, were just out and about in the city, getting pumped up for the game.

"I am really excited," said Marc Levasseur, who was on his way to the Bell Centre. "It's such a nice evening tonight."

Wearing two jerseys, one over the other, he said, "we're going to win. It's going to be hard, but we're going to win."

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