Saturday 25 June 2011

Preparing for Montreal Professional Lacrosse

There is a new professional sports franchise headed to Montreal. Rooths Sports Events, a new company headed by former Montreal Juniors president Martin Routhier, is behind the initiative. Plans first called for the team to play out of the new arena in Boisbriand. But now that the Juniors have been sold and moved there, Routhier is reportedly switching gears and will do the smart thing – fill the void left at the Verdun Auditorium.

Word has it that the Canadian Professional Soccer League will only have a 20 game schedule beginning next winter. That is indeed a more prudent way to go.

As a warmup, Routhier’s Montreal Lacrosse is introducing a two day summer camp for youth between the ages of 10 to14 years old. Chad Fairfoull, the general nanager of new Montreal Lacrosse pro team, will be the camp instructor with the help of professional lacrosse players.
Fairfoull started playing lacrosse at a young age and pursued his passion first as a player and then in the coaching ranks. He has held the position of head coach of the West End Warlocks in the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League. Not only is he a player, coach, and referee at the highest level, but he was also elected vice president of Administration for the Canadian Lacrosse Association in 2010.

The camp takes place on July 11 and 12 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at Le Club, Beaconsfield (205 Alton Drive). There is a $125 fee. “We intend to make sure that this camp is a truly memorable experience,” notes Tanier Gohier, director of operations for Rooth Sports.

Participants will learn the basic skills needed to play lacrosse and develop a passion for this fast growing sport. “Our mission is to ensure the safety, and quality experience your child deserves,” adds Gohier.

Each participant will receive, as a thank you, a $50 gift certificate valid only for the purchase of a season lacrosse ticket for the 2011-2012 schedule.

Meanwhile, Rooth Sports is working on a possible other exciting project which could bring life into the Verdun Auditorium. Routhier is a former captain of the McGill Redmen hockey team. His friend and teammate was Mathieu Darche, now of the Canadiens. Rooth Sports will be working with McGill this year to promote its hockey program. In the works are one or two regular season games at Verdun between the Redmen and the Concordia Stingers.

If you are interested in a registration form for the lacrosse camp email

Review of El Morocco Restaurant

El Morocco Restaurant on Drummond Avenue downtown is worth the visit. While the menu is no longer kosher, the food tastes exactly the same - perhaps even better. Read my review on page 17 of The Local Suburban.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Exciting Dragon Boat Festival set for June 25

The 9th Edition of the Montreal Summer Splash Dragon Boat Festival, considered by many to be the most fun dragon boat event on the local circuit, takes place June 25. With over 25 teams scheduled to participate, some returning for their ninth consecutive year, paddlers, in teams of 22, compete in Mixed and Women’s divisions.

In addition to heats in the 500-, 200- and 100-metre distances, Summer Splash features the only Flag-Catching Race in Montreal dragon boat competitions. “By adding a flag-catching element in the final 500-metre race, Summer Splash has adopted a tradition rooted in Taiwanese festivals,” said Festival Director, Dan Levine. “As the boat crosses the finish line, the drummer must reach out and catch a flag that rests on a floating platform. It adds more excitement for participants and spectators.”

Summer Splash is an event geared toward recreational and community teams from Montreal and the surrounding areas. This year’s event will welcome three teams from Ottawa and one from Sherbrooke. The event has experienced significant growth since Levine took over the reigns as Festival Director three years ago. In addition to planning dragon boat competitions and team-building events for youth and corporate groups, Levine is also the captain of Montreal Mix, a highly-competitive dragon boat team. He’s also an experienced coach for other teams. “I guess you can say that the sport has helped to shape me into the person I am today. It’s a privilege to be part of such a vibrant and supportive sporting community,” added Levine.

The Montreal Summer Splash Dragon Boat Festival takes place on June 25 at the Olympic Basin on Ile Notre-Dame, home of various water sport events at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Races begin at 8 h 30 and the day’s event is capped off with a post-race BBQ and Beer Tent, featuring great music, prize draws and plenty of fun for all! Accessible by car and public transit via Bus 167 (Casino) and métro Jean-Drapeau, admission to the Festival site is free, with parking fees in effect. In addition, representatives from Leave Out Violence (LOVE) will be on site to promote the organization and join in the fun atmosphere. For details, visit

Metro 14 TV makes presence in Montreal

Cable Channel 14 has gone through a few incarnations in Montreal. Originally known as
La Télévision Ethnique du Québec (TEQ), a public access and ethnic cable channel, it morphed into CJNT TV in 1997 – again focusing on mainly ethnic and multicultural content – before coming under the ownership of CanWest Global. It then also became identified as CH and E!

Very quietly, just two years ago, an Ontario-based outfit called Channel Zero purchased CJNT. Last winter it was formally rebranded Metro 14 and last week the Toronto/Hamilton-based group made a big splash at trendy Rosalie Restaurant on Avenue de la Montagne.

Metro 14 is owned by Channel Zero Inc., a private Canadian television broadcaster, has that purchased CHCH-TV in Hamilton and CJNT-TV in Montreal from CanWest Global. This deal ensured the continued operation and local focus of both stations and the employment of all employees.

While the main focus of Metro 14 involves 18 hours of American TV simulcasts, original and foreign movies, multicultural programming and music videos, Channel Zero President and CEO Romen Podzyhun said that he has given CJNT boss Isabella Federigi a mandate to seek out some local programming options. Metro 14 has also reeled in Brian Kenemy as a senior sales executive. Kenemy is a former general manager of The Q 92.5 FM and well connected in the community.

Among those at the launch was entertainment guru Sheldon Kagan. How about the Sheldon Kagan Show? The man in question kind of liked the idea. I suggested to Podzyhun that he introduce a once a week late night TV show similar to Leno and Letterman, hosted by Aaron Rand and Tasso. What about a provocative current affairs program, a Montreal version if you will of Radio Canada’s Tout le monde en parle?

Chris Fuoco, vice-president of sales and marketing for Channel Zero, says that Metro 14 plans to provide a local platform for Quebec bands to get airtime via their videos. Foreign films will get good exposure. “Often you will see a number of films nominated for Oscars, but you never know where you can watch them,” he said. “Metro 14 will provide that opportunity. The same goes for short films.”

In the spring of 2012 Channel Zero will present the television broadcast premiere of Avatar containing many elements which did not appear in the Oscar winning film version.

I have already been watching Sportsline, weeknights at 7 p.m., with provocative host Mark Hebscher (left). Many years ago Hebscher was a sportcaster on Montreal radio.

Metro14 Montreal is available in the Greater Montreal area over the air on channel 62 (UHF) and on cable on Videotron, on Rogers in Ontario and across Canada on satellite on BellTV.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Mourning the loss of Junior Hockey in Montreal

The highly successful return of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) to the Montreal Island is over for now. Farrel Miller (right) sold his Montreal Juniors franchise last week to a group headed by former NHLer Joel Bouchard. It also includes Daniel Briere of the Philadelphia Flyers, JF Giguere of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ian Laperriere, who just retired from Philadelphia. They will play out of a new 3,100 seat arena in Boisbriand, which is near Mirabel Airport. That means the borough of Verdun loses yet another junior team, in this case one that was repeatedly selling out and attracting a loyal following.

Miller bought the St. John’s, Newfoundland QMJHL team four years ago and moved it to Montreal. The Verdun Auditorium was the only logical venue. While the building is old and no doubt in need of repair it served the team’s purpose very well. Miller made some cosmetic improvements and added a real press box. Montreal put a first class team on the ice and the fans ate it up.

I was always a junior hockey fan, dating back to the days when Pat LaFontaine and Claude Lemieux played in Verdun. When Miller bought the team, I embraced the game’s return. Annually I would see the Juniors play more than the Canadiens. The QMJHL offers a great product, with end to end action and good body checking. Miller and I hooked up to make promotional deals involving the English Montreal School Board, He provided free season tickets to schools in inner city neighbourhoods and created a program whereby players visited schools to talk about the importance of staying in class. Last season he introduced actual regular season day games and a few boards, including the EMSB, bought into the concept. Kids would travel by bus for a 10:30 a.m. start, bring their own lunches and be back at school by 1:30 p.m. It was a gigantic hit. The Lester B. Pearson School Board actually sold out an entire day game by themselves. We already scheduled ours for next year – February 29, 2012 to be exact. I do not think that will occur now that Boisbriand is the new destination. A call is in to Joel Bouchard(left), for our schools in St. Léonard indicate that Boisbriand is 20 minutes away whereas Verdun was a 60 minute trip by bus.

I really connected with this Juniors and the league and I must say I am absolutely crushed by their departure. At the same time I understand that Miller had an offer he could not refuse. Reports indicate that he will only agree to the sale once the league guarantees him territorial rights to put a franchise on the South Shore, where a brand new arena is expected to be constructed in the not too distant future. He would also have a right of refusal for anyone wanting to put another franchise in Montreal.

While QMJHL Commissioner Gilles Courteau may be pleased with this move, he has to look at the big picture and tell himself that Boisbriand is “not” Montreal. This might be a convenient venue for those residing in the Laurentians and Laval, but Montrealers will not make the trek there. Now a core group of junior fans who fell hard for this new team will become orphans.

I can only hope that Bouchard and his group will reach out to Montreal fans – and organizations like school boards as well. They should call themselves “Montreal” and make the point that Boisbriand is not really that far; in fact it is within minutes of many of the popular golf clubs Montrealers frequent regularly. If you have ever driven to Carrefour Laval, then just travel a little further on the Laurentian Autoroute and you will hit Boisbriand.

Boisbriand and the new arena will also be the home of a new professional lacrosse team, run by Martin Routhier. He was president of the Montreal Juniors up until a few months ago. Routhier chose this venue before news of junior hockey setting up shop there broke. Perhaps he should switch gears and come to Verdun. Heck, count me in if he does so.