In English, the Montreal Canadiens are referred to as the Habs, but in French the legendary hockey team is often known as the Sainte-Flanelle (the Holy Flannel). The nickname of its new young goaltender Carey Price is Jesus Price and he is thought to be the savior of the team.
Canadiens fans also talk about the ghosts of the old Montreal Forum. French-Canadian broadcaster Ron Fournier is the prophet and his listeners are disciples. All these religious connotations intrigued Bauer.
“If the Habs are a religion should we fight it because it’s a form of adulation?” asks Bauer. “Or should we use it to highlight that certain values transmitted by the Habs can correspond to Christian values?”
Bauer has long been a hockey fan himself. He won several medals as a goaltender for the University of Neuchâtel hockey team in Switzerland.
But is the correlation with religion unique to the Habs? “There are others, in other sports, but not many,” says Bauer. Other researchers have studied baseball in the United States and soccer in South America and Europe.
According to Bauer, passion in Montreal is particularly intense. “People visit the Saint Joseph’s Oratory to pray on game days. And Carey Price wears a cross behind his mask,” he says.
That passion for the sport of hockey can be connected with a form of religion is not a new idea. However, in this daring work, Olivier Bauer and Jean-Marc Barreau intend to push well the reflexion beyond this simple assertion. In full centenary of the Canadian of Montreal, helped university colleagues allured by their company, they resort to the metaphor of the sport as religion to analyze the attraction it exerts celebrates it club of hockey on the Québécois population. But how to speak about the Canadian like religion without putting at the same time the question of the place and the role of the religion in Quebec? This work does not bring definitive answers with the question. But it presents interesting ideas to open enthralling lines of thinking.