It’s a sacrilege.
It’s harmless fun.
It’s a misunderstanding.
It’s a pointed statement on Quebec’s bitterest hockey rivalry.
Or is it all of those things? And none of them?
Much air has been heated and ink spilled in Quebec City this week after a Montreal-based construction worker, Eric Rivest, posted a cellphone video of himself dropping a puck with a Bell Centre and Montreal Canadiens logo into one of the concrete footings for the Quebec capital’s new multi-purpose arena, which the city hopes will soon host Les Nordiques 2.0.
“Here you go Nordiques, we’re thinking about you,” a grinning Rivest said in the short clip, which you can watch here.
According to Le Soleil, Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume jokingly vowed to excavate the offending object.
Except it turns out Rivest, a welder who works for the company that is doing the underpinning for the foundations of the new building, is a die-hard Nordiques fan (yes, they still exist in Montreal).
He told Le Soleil that he meant the gesture to show that the Nords would always be above the Habs – literally and figuratively – and insists that’s all he meant for it to symbolize.
There’s no reason to doubt him; Rivest says it all started as a way to make his buddies laugh, and insists he’s determined to be at the first game held in the new building.
But the affair is not without parallel to the shenanigans that took place during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium – a worker tossed a Boston Red Sox jersey into the site to cast a hex on the Yanks, it was later excavated using jackhammers.
Similar stunts have also been pulled in the construction of European soccer stadiums, and let’s not forget the whole ‘Lucky Loonie’ tradition that started when Canadian ice makers slipped a coin under the surface at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics – Canada would beat the U.S. for gold in both the men’s and women’s hockey events.
L’affaire rondelle would doubtless have gone completely unnoticed if hockey fever hadn’t spiked in Quebec City; news this week that the NBA has turned down an attempt to relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle has rekindled hope that the Phoenix Coyotes or another NHL team will be relocated to Quebec in time to inaugurate the new building in the fall of 2015.
And if the Habs open the new building with an appalling loss and find it nearly impossible to win in the place, everyone will know why.