MONTREAL - What's the very last thing your Canadiens do before hitting the Bell Centre ice on game nights?
One by one, they give a couple of lucky flag-bearing youngsters fist bumps to acknowledge their support of their beloved team.
Newcomers and veterans alike wholeheartedly appreciate the tradition that has become a staple of the pregame festivities.
Defenseman Ben Chiarot, who joined the Canadiens over the summer, insists on making good contact with the kids' gloves to ensure the experience is extra memorable.
"I remember as a kid going to NHL games and seeing the big show. Actually being on the ice and touching the players, getting a fist bump from them, that's something that you'll remember your whole life," said Chiarot. "You want to make them feel involved and make them feel special, so it's fun having kids be a part of the opening ceremonies."
Like Chiarot, Nate Thompson became a fan of the custom right off the bat as well.
"You add the song and our announcer [Michel Lacroix] to the mix, how he announces us when we come onto the ice, there's a novelty to it. Having the two kids there giving you fist bumps is always awesome with them holding the flags," praised Thompson, who is now in his second year with Montreal. "I think every guy makes a point of getting those bumps in. The kids are there for a reason, and it's fun having them there."
Brendan Gallagher is definitely in agreement with "Uncle Nate."
"Pricey [Carey Price] goes out first and I'm right after him, so you give both kids a bump, skate around, and get ready to play," mentioned Gallagher. "That's something that they're going to remember for a long time. I remember when I was a little kid, you got to do stuff like that at intermissions, and you remember it. I remember Pauly [Paul Byron] and Webby [Shea Weber] had their kids do it one game. It was a pretty neat experience."
That begs the question: How can your child earn this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
The first step involves joining the Canadiens Fan Club, which enables you to enter the Scotiabank Be Part of the Team Contest!
One contest winner (aged 5-12) is chosen to be a flag-bearer for every home game at the Bell Centre.
Winners will carry the flag around the Canadiens' zone and then welcome Claude Julien's players to the sweet sounds of Lacroix's legendary voice, the music of Coldplay, and the raucous applause of the crowd, of course.
The prize package also includes a jersey, four game tickets, four concession vouchers, and a complimentary parking spot for the entire family as well.
Contest winners for 10 home games have yet to be chosen, so sign up for the Canadiens Fan Club now!