Thursday, 19 May 2011

Professional lacrosse returning to Montreal

At the age of 48 I am old enough to remember the days of the Montreal Qu├ębecois, perhaps our city's most successful professional lacrosse team. Hockey legend John Ferguson was the head coach and for a while fans packed the Montreal Forum to watch them play during the 1974 and 1975 seasons. I remember my dad bringing my brother and I to a game the night before the Habs were to host the New York Rangers. We were so excited to see New York general manager Emile "the Cat" Francis and Doug Risebrough of the Canadiens in the crowd. Their top scorer was a fellow by the name of John Davis. The game featured a lot of physical contact and fights.

In 2002 pro lacrosse returned as the Montreal Express played at the Bell Centre. That experiment failed and the team moved to Minnesota. Now Martin Routhier, who recently stepped down as president of the Montreal Juniors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is poised to announce a new Montreal entry in the National Lacrosse League. He will do so at a press conference on May 26.

Routhier (right), whose new company Rooths Sports Events is behind the initiative, is a smart cookie. He has a business degree for McGill, played hockey there and helped owner Farrel Miller successfully relaunch junior hockey here after an absence of a few years. He has also surrounded himself with two now former employees of the Juniors from the areas of communications and ticketing.

Lacrosse appears to be growing in popularity in the Montreal area at the amateur level so it will be interesting to follow this story.