A little snippet of hockey history. Most Montrealers will tell you that the old Montreal Forum went through two phases during its hockey heyday: the old forum and the revamped version that was rebuilt in 1968 and housed the powerhouse 1970s club. There were actually four phases in total, three hockey rinks and the current entertainment center.
The Forum was actually first used as a roller rink that encircled an outdoor rink. This was built in 1908 by Joseph-Alphonse Christin and stood until 1923 when what most regard as the old forum was built.
Mike Wyman of Inside Hockey
Opening night, November 9, 1908, was a sensation and all 3,000 pairs of roller skates available for rental saw extensive use as thousands of Montrealers came to wander through, gawk at or try out the facilities at what was hyped in the press as “the largest, finest and most hygienic roller rink,” a decent establishment, “catering only to the highest classes of patronage.” The claim to antiseptic purity was prompted by the fact that a generation before, Montreal had been a world leader in all manner of communicable diseases, largely due to sanitary facilities that were primitive at best outside of the wealthy enclaves that The Forum hoped to draw upon for their clientele.
The Montreal Forum Under Construction in the Early 1920s
The most sombre chapter in the Forum’s history came when one of the building’s great superstars tragically passed away. Howie Morenz was the greatest hockey star of the early era, and the “Stratford Streak” was beloved by the Montreal faithful. Morenz broke his leg in a game on January 28th, 1937. The legend goes that when the doctors told Morenz the injury would make playing hockey again impossible, he died of a broken heart. When news of Morenz’s passing was made public, the outpouring of grief was incredible. The Canadiens held a funeral service in the Forum with Morenz lying in state at center ice. Over 10,000 fans attended the service and thousands more lined the route of his funeral procession.
Here’s a great timeline of the events of the Montreal Forum 1924 to 1996:
The Hockey Mecca – home to Jacques Plante, The Rocket and the Legendary 1950’s hockey club.
Old guard and the future — Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman in 1962
Which brings us to The Montreal Forum of the 1970s and 1980s. Home to Guy Lafleur and Ken Dryden.
And finally, when was the last game played at the Montreal Forum? March 11, 1996