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Hab at Heart - Denis Coderre

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

When he's not busy running council meetings or traipsing the globe promoting his city, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre can often be found at the Bell Centre, proudly donning his Habs jersey. We caught up with the man behind the #HabsDC hashtag to delve a little deeper into his deep Canadiens roots.

How long have you been a Canadiens fan?

DENIS CODERRE: For as long as I can remember. I was really young - we're talking nearly 50 years.

Did you play hockey growing up?

DC: I played a little, but just for fun. I played ball hockey for a few years, that kind of thing.

Who was your favorite player growing up?

DC: It was Guy Lafleur, no question about it. Guy! Guy! Guy!

What do you like best about the game?

DC: Hockey is a team sport and it's good for development. It demonstrates the importance of teamwork. You have to be able to rely on one another to create cohesion. It's our game, it brings us together, and it's our identity, really.

With your packed schedule, how often are you able to make it to games at the Bell Centre?

DC: I'll always find time for hockey. I came a few times this season. I'd say I probably came to seven or eight games at the Bell Centre this year, but I never miss a game. I also tweet during the games.

When you're here, are you in the crowd as the Mayor, a Montrealer, or a die-hard fan?

DC: They're all the same. All three are the same person, so I don't have to choose!

How do you follow the games when you're out of town?

DC: I follow all the games. I'll usually follow online with Twitter. I also have a job to do - I tweet out my own play-by-pay of the action. (laughs)

Is running a hockey team similar to running a city?

DC: Kind of, yes. There are highs and lows. You have to manage things well and make key decisions and you'll never make everyone happy. You also have to trust in your team.

How good would you be at delivering a motivational speech to the boys in the room after a tough period?

DC: I've actually coached football before, so I've done that in the past. Football and hockey aren't that different. Before anything else, you need to build credibility and your players have to have confidence in you. Look at guys like Michel Therrien or Carey Price; when they speak, people listen.

Which of the current players do you think would make the best politician when his playing career comes to a close?

DC: That's a good question…I've never thought about that. I'd say David Desharnais!

Speaking of David, you caused some controversy with your tweet about him needing a one-way ticket to Hamilton last year. What was the fallout from that?

DC: We've made up since then. That was just a fan speaking his mind. As I said, for me, there's no distinction between me as the Mayor and me as a Habs fan. They're one in the same.

Did you expect that kind of reaction when you sent the tweet?

DC: You never expect it to get that big, but it didn't completely surprise me.

Come playoff time, you always seem to be making bets with opposing Mayors. How are the negotiations when it comes time to setting the terms?

DC: It's never too hard. There are a few who are a little less gutsy with their bets, like the Mayor of New York last year. He accepted my bet only after the first Rangers win when Carey Price was injured. But it's usually a pretty festive, fun process.

Do you represent your Habs fandom outside Montreal? Hats, jerseys, etc…

DC: All the time. I'm always wearing my Canadiens hat when I'm away from home.

How much would you love to see your good friend and Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume realize his dream of getting an NHL team so we could revive the Canadiens-Nordiques rivalry?

DC: I'd love to see the Nordiques make a return. I'm all for that. Quebec needs to get a team so we have someone to practice against. (laughs)

As mayor of Montreal, do you ever feel like you have to watch what you say about the Canadiens?

DC: Not at all!

Interview conducted by Vincent Cauchy. Translated by Shauna Denis.

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