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One Montreal Weekend in March / Ode to a Habs Tweetup

Sunday, August 15, 2010

by chile_pepper,

VANCOUVER, BC -- Hi there, my name is Veronica and I am a Habs fan of the only variety of Habs fan there is: die-hard. Have been since I can remember. Many of you know me on Twitter as @chile_pepper and about 50 of you I've MET/met, for real. And it was all thanks to a magical event known as a Habs Tweetup.

Also, if you know me, you know that I talk, A LOT, and you may also know that I recently started blogging. Okay, so if you either know me 'IRL' or have read any of my blog posts, you know that I am verbose and veer in different directions. I will try to keep this as succinct as possible, but with the primary focus here being my love for my 'tweeps', I can't make any promises that it'll be short but I can promise that the love for the tweeps is a straight road, no exits. Meaning, I'll remain focussed.

It all started a long, long time ago in a little hospital in Santiago, Chile. JUST KIDDING. It all started a little over a year ago, on a little social networking site called Twitter. I joined Twitter at the urging of a friend, but looked at it once and left it for about 6 months. Didn't get it.

Then I looked at it again, and I still remember this, even though it was over 25,000 tweets ago: I was watching a Habs game (I watch every single game thanks to the RDS channel), and I tweeted (something like) 'I love watching the Habs on RDS, because there's no mistaking who they're rooting for.' Then I got my very first @ reply, EVER. It was from Mr. @All_Habs himself, asking what I thought about RDS's obtuseness and lack of objectivity (or something like that). Then he followed me. And I thought, I'm having a conversation! I'm in a Twitter relationship! Whee!

And that was it. Day after day, after tweeting the word 'Habs', I was gaining & following tens upon tens then hundreds of fantastic, fabulous, wonderful, beautiful, shiny, delightful, amazing people who were HABS FANS. Habs fans, yo!! After living in Vancouver for years and only having my brothers to talk to about my beloved team, all of a sudden, there were HUNDREDS of people who loved les glorieux as much as I. They were from all over the country too - concentrated mainly in Montreal of course, but there were tweeps in the Maritimes, Ontario, the prairies, and even, yes, B.C. Even the U.S.!

We had a great time 'getting to know' each other during last year's off-season. And we had A LOT to talk about. Naming a coach. And who could forget the 'smurfs'? Then the season began, and I was watching the games 'with' everyone on Twitter. Swoon with love.

One morning in January, I decided to treat myself to a Montreal getaway. First to-do: see when I could possibly manage that - it had to be before April because, let's face it - a lot of us were worried we wouldn't be making the playoffs. Found a Friday I could easily take off in March, then spend a whirlwind weekend in Montreal.

Here's how single moms do it: get my mother to keep that weekend free to spend it with my kids. Book an Air Canada flight on points. Book a room at very nice hotel downtown, also on points.

Then, the last order of business: send an e-mail to my friend @All_Habs saying: What are the chances of a Habs tweetup in Montreal when I go there in March? His response, bless his HEART, was: "100%." And he and the All_Habs team proceeded to organize an event that would surpass my wildest expectations - by a million miles.

My flight landed in Montreal the evening of Friday, March 19th. I was met at the airport by @All_Habs (I didn't even know what he actually looked like, by the way - on Twitter his avatar is simply the All Habs logo!!), @metricjulie and @kyleroussel. You have no idea how touched I was - 3 people whom I'd never met in person met me at the AIRPORT. In MONTREAL. During rush hour. Unbelievable.

The hospitality simply blew me away. And I was thrilled they were each exactly as I'd imagined they would be. @All_Habs has a dry wit, and sober, measured thoughts. His is the voice of reason. Julie is kind, funny and smart, a girl involved in the man's world of sports radio - no easy task. She's amazing. Kyle has a punchline for everything, and had a funny story of watching the Canada/USA gold medal hockey game in Central America. The 4 of us went to wait out the rush hour and get a couple of drinks at some fine establishment near the airport. It was like we already knew each other! And I guess we already did.

Next, off to downtown Montreal to get checked in to the hotel & go meet the fabulous @amanada11 for dinner at l'Académie on Crescent. Again, like meeting an old friend - she even brought wine, and a little gift - you guys, can you even imagine? Our conversation picked up from many mini-Twitter conversations we'd previously had. And she was exactly like I knew she would be: sweet, thoughtful, and intelligent. Guys: she's a doctor!! @Sabotek joined us there, and I hadn't engaged as much with her on Twitter before meeting her, and oh, is she FUNNY. Had me cracking up.

We left from dinner to meet @Sabotek's sister, @Sam_Cat, equally as funny as her big sis, and @Jump4Jay, whom I hadn't had the pleasure of previously meeting on Twitter. When he agreed with me that neither Timmy Ho's nor Starbucks could make as good a cup of coffee as good ol' homemade French-pressed, I was sold. I found him on Twitter and followed him then and there.

Next morning: game day!! Soooo excited. The second-to-none gorgeous and amazing @FlyersRule came to pick me up from the hotel, after having spent the previous day driving in from PHILADELPHIA. This girl doesn't mess around. She also came bearing gifts. So thoughtful. First time meeting in person, again, like old friends. This is going to be a recurring theme. She took
me to Old Montreal where we had lunch and girl talk, then took me to where I'd been dreaming of: the Bell Centre.

@FlyersRule played patient photographer as I had my picture taken from various angles with the

statues of the greats. I then dropped a gross amount of money at the
store. I had to have one of everything, including jerseys & foam fingers for my kids. It was like a CANDY STORE. But BETTER. @emihawk (sweet and perfect gentleman) met us there and went in to the store to have Kenny Dryden's name put on to his jersey. I practiced a little French with him, he practiced his English. @Anne_Laur joined us soon thereafter. She is the cutest thing you can imagine, and took the famous picture (famous? Why not) of me reaching up to kiss the giant poster of Markov in the Habs' store window. @guccipucciprada came too, all model-fabulous and excited for the Habs Hall of Fame tour. It's my one regret from the trip - I couldn't squeeze that in. I had to rush back to the hotel to get dressed and ready for the tweetup. Next time! And I'll do it right. I was so jealous when I saw all the pictures later on Facebook.

And then it was time - an hour or so before puck-drop we began to gather at Ye Olde Orchard for the Montreal @ Toronto game. The place was ridiculously jam-packed due to the Bon Jovi concert actually about to happen at the Bell Centre a few blocks away (our tweetup and the Bon Jovi contingent got a mention in the Montreal Gazette the following day, by the way). As soon as I was in the door, I spotted some Habs jerseys near the front. I

recognized sweetheart @Cathie_AK27 right away - and again, like an old friend after some of our Twitter chats. I was so excited to finally meet her! She introduced me to the vivacious and uber-friendly @MaryK_AK27, whom I hadn't yet met on Twitter but already recognized from the moment at the January Ottawa @ Montreal game, when she and Cathie got their closeup on CBC (and Cathie managed to turn to proudly show the camera that her
jersey bears Sergei Kostitsyn's name).

Among the other early arrivers was blogger and Habs fan extraordinaire @HendricksHockey, who also made the drive up from the States. Finally got to meet the adorable @EP31 too (who's so cute she inspires feelings of wanting to pop her into your pocket), and the famous @robertopanetta and his sweet wife @MeredithBedard.

The Bon Jovi riff-raff finally started vacating the premises to go to the concert, and we started filing into the back room to watch the REAL event. There were more than 50 of us there and I could hardly keep up with all the introductions, but I recognized the lovely @FlirtyJo, the sweet and amazing @IFC4 and @guyl4rj, the massively-muscled @mduchesneau, hilarious blogger @HabsLaughs, and another hilarious, genius blogger whom I'd been very remiss to not previously meet on Twitter, the inimitable,
fabulous @theactivestick.

Then, a little late but finally, my 'amigo del alma', the fantastic @kuyaz arrived. Exactly like he is on Twitter, he is friendly, engaging and awesome. Also brought me a gift. You guys. He even had a 'Veronica' tattoo on his forearm! Okay, so it's not because of me but because of a very important other Veronica, but still. Too cool.

Also finally arriving after expressing a 'maybe yes, maybe no' RSVP and I'm so glad he finally did, was the funny & sweet @theHabituals. His twitter avatar is of a 6-year old version of himself, but he's a little older than that in real life. @amanada11's buddy @michellesquared was another highlight introduction.

We watched the game in that packed room, and I can't tell you what a thrill it was, after years & years of being too far away from Montreal, to be somewhere where people were cheering and 'aaaawwww'ing right along with me to a Habs game, standing up to high-five all around with the Habs goals. Okay, so whatever, the Habs lost in a shootout to the crappy Leafs, but the Leafs were left out of the playoffs because they sucked so bad and we went on to almost make it to the Stanley Cup finals, so there.

I got about 2 hours of sleep that night but I just wanted to soak in my all-too-brief Montreal experience and was so happy to be with all these people I'd made friendships with on Twitter, and it is a weekend I'll never forget. Missing from the tweetup who I would have loved to meet were @beezee05, @yves_on_habs, @brirob9 and @smalrus. These guys are a staple on Twitter for all the Habs games & must-follows for Habs fans. And technically not a Habs fan but a hockey-blog wizard was sorely missed: @HockeyJoePHT.

I boarded a plane early that Sunday morning and it was over so fast. I hope to see everyone again sometime soon, be back in my beloved Montreal for much longer next time, and bring my mini-Habs fans in tow.

See you at the next #habstweetup! Until then, see you all on Twitter! #gohabsgo #isitOctoberyet <3


JFB August 15, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

Hey Veronica!

Thanks for the great post. So much fun to read. I've got me a long list of folks to follow on Twitter now. : )
I have a feeling you've already memorized the Habs' schedule in its entirety, am I right? Like, who are we playing on the season opener?

FlyersRule August 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM  

Great post Veronica! Your recap truly brought the weekend back to life. It was a great event - and of course if my friend is gonna fly all the way across the country, the least I can do is drive a few hours to see her!! lol

Lunch and shopping was so much fun that day - but it went so fast! We'll have to plan another coast-to-coast HabsTweetup soon! Glad to hear that your trip to Montreal was everything you had hoped for and that you met and made so many friends that's really the essence of what HabsTweetups are all about!

René-Carl Dumais August 15, 2010 at 8:57 PM  

hey i remember that tweetup like it was yesterday ... i have to do this. this winter go in different city to see some hockey :) Vancouver and Toronto are my first stop ... then Philly

chile_pepper August 15, 2010 at 9:53 PM  

René-Carl, when you are in Vancouver we will do a tweetup in your honour!!

FlyersRule August 15, 2010 at 10:59 PM  

Did I hear Philly from Rene-Carl! Yes, we should get all of you Canadians down to my neck of the continent! :)

René-Carl Dumais August 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM  

Flyers yeah i will let you know just need my passport that's why i will be in vancouver first

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