The Montreal Canadiens find themselves in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 28 years, which is the longest drought for the NHL’s oldest team. They have made it to the Final by playing hard and competing as a unit, but maybe — just maybe — could they be getting help from the beyond? Now, I personally don’t believe in ghosts, but I can’t deny the strange happenings in some of the games the Canadiens have been winning in this postseason. Have the ghosts of the Montreal Forum returned after all these years to help the team, or is it just mere coincidence? Either way, strange number patterns have emerged for the Habs in these playoffs.
Roy and Tremblay Bury the Hatchet
To help explain this ghost theory, a significant incident must be broken down first. On Dec. 2, 1995, the Canadiens played a home game against the Detroit Red Wings; Patrick Roy started and allowed nine goals before being pulled. In a scene that would be replayed for decades to come, he walked past then-head coach Mario Tremblay to tell team president Ronald Corey he had played his last game in Montreal.
Four days later, Roy was traded to the Colorado Avalanche and, that same season, went on to win his third Stanley Cup. How does this connect to the ghost theory? Rumour has it that he was so mad at the organization, Tremblay, and the Canadiens fans, that he packed the forum ghosts — who many believed helped the Canadiens in their success — in his suitcase and took them to Colorado. The Avalanche won two Cups and were a strong contending team for decades after Roy’s arrival, while the Canadiens were mediocre at best until this May when Roy and Trembley decided to reconcile.
The strange thing about the reunion is, it happened right after a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Canadiens won the next three games to take the series 4-3. Now the question remains: did Roy in fact bring the ghosts back to Montreal and lift the curse?
Kotkaniemi and the Number 15
Jesperi Kotkaniemi is in his third year with the Canadiens, being the third-overall pick in the 2018 Draft. He has had an up-and-down career so far for the team, but he’s only 20 and still developing. In the playoffs, however, he has been nothing but a stud. In the 2019-20 season, Kotkaniemi scored four goals and helped lead the Canadiens through the play-in round to the playoff round against the Philadelphia Flyers. This postseason once again, he has been a workhorse, scoring five goals and seven points. One of his goals, an overtime (OT) game-winner against the Maple Leafs to tie the series, has some magic around it.
In Game 6 of the first-round series against the Maple Leafs, the game was in OT, and the Canadiens needed the win to stay alive; they had already blown a third period 2-0 lead and were playing in front of their fans for the first time in 15 months. Here’s where things get spooky: at 15:15 of OT on the 15th shot of the period, Kotkaniemi, who wears number 15, scored the winning goal; this also caused him to end the game at exactly 15 minutes of ice time.
Price and the Number 31
Carey Price, who has become the true successor to Roy, is a huge reason why the Canadiens are in the Cup Final, and he’s well on his way to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP if the Habs win the Cup. We all know Price wears the number 31 and that he is probably still one of the best goaltenders in the world. He’s won every award he can except the aforementioned Conn Smythe and the coveted Stanley Cup. But, was it Price or the number 31 that really helped the Canadiens win Game 7 against the Maple Leafs?
Game 7 was held on May 31, the Canadiens were down in the series 3-1, and they ended up winning Game 7, 3-1. The Maple Leafs had 31 shots on goal, there was a total of three penalties and one power-play goal scored. The opening goal was Eric Staal’s third assist and Brendan Gallagher’s first goal. Finally, of course, Price wears the number 31… If you really want to dig deep, the first two letters in Carey are the third and first numbers of the alphabet — but that’s grasping at straws, really.
Canadiens Sweep and the Number 4
The Canadiens and the Winnipeg Jets both overcame the odds to defeat their rivals in the first round to go on to determine which of them would be “King of the North.” In the second, the Habs were the underdogs again, with many media personalities predicting the Jets in 5 or 6 games — I had the Canadiens in 6, but what do I know. They dominated the Jets and swept the series — again surprising many around the league, and again with a certain number prominent in the series-clinching game.
In the fourth game, to give the Canadiens their fourth win of the series, Tyler Toffoli scored his fourth goal, Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki would be credited with their fourth assists each. The goal was scored on the fourth shot on net during the fourth period of the game, giving the Jets their fourth OT lose of the playoffs. There were also only four penalties called in the game. If anyone remembers, when Kotkaniemi scored his first goal of the playoffs, he held up four fingers – this, however, has nothing to do with the final game against the Jets, but I’ll mention it anyway.
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This final group of weird numbers involves both the Jets and the Vegas Golden Knights: when the Canadiens eliminated the Jets, they scored the winning goal in OT with 18:21 left on the clock — or at the 1:39 mark. Oddly enough, the Canadiens scored the winning goal in OT to eliminate the Golden Knights with 18:21 remaining — or 1:39 left on the clock. Also, if you add up 1+8, then 2+1, you get 93, or reverse the 39, you also get 93; Roy led the Canadiens to their last Cup in 1993.
Are the ghosts back? Did Roy and Tremblay’s reconciliation break a 28-year-old curse? I personally doubt it, but you have to admit there is still something very odd and magical about this Canadiens team.
Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com. Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on CTV news and ESPN Radio; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.