Le Club de hockey Canadien de Montréal dates back to 1909: the 2009 season included various events to celebrate its centennial including the opening of a special plaza, the Place du Centenaire, at the corner of La Gauchetière and de la Montagne which features statues of Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau and Guy Lafleur. However, this plaza has now been dismantled for the construction of the Canadiens condo tower.
The team marked its official centennial on December 4, 2009, and embarked on its second century.
The section of La Gauchetière which passes the Bell Centre, between Peel and de la Montagne, was renamed Avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal in honour of the team, and a hall of fame in the Bell Centre displays memorabilia of the team's 100+ years.
The Canadiens were among the most successful professional sports teams of the 20th century, having brought the Stanley Cup home 24 times between 1916 and 1993; the gap between 1993 and today is the team's longest drought without a Cup.
The team – also known as the Habs, and in French the bleu-blanc-rouge, le Tricolore, la Sainte-Flanelle, le CH, les Glorieux – is part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League.
It's difficult to convey quite how strongly Montreal identifies with this hockey team. Its ups and downs, the fate of its various stars, seem to be entwined with the mood and the fortunes of the city itself. The premature death of star forward Howie Morenz in 1937 prefigured the carnage of World War II. The Richard riot of 1955 is commonly regarded as the first public demonstration of a Quebec nationalism that would grow throughout the rest of the century.Some fans still feel that the team's 1996 desertion of the Montreal Forum is partly responsible for its long Cup drought: it has never won one in its current home, the Bell Centre. The Forum was generally but quietly regarded as having protective ghosts – one of the reasons the team's old changing room was faithfully re-created in the new arena – but so far this gesture has not convinced the ghosts to bring the team the Stanley Cup.
Typically, when the Canadiens get into the playoffs, game nights bring a hush to the streets punctuated with audible cheers and groans from houses and drinking establishments throughout the city. Wins are followed by outbreaks of honking, waving of the CH logo flag and, occasionally, rioting and vandalism; losses, by a certain discreet silence as fans quietly disperse.
The Canadiens have reached the playoffs every season since 2008, except for 2011-12, but have been stymied each time before reaching the Cup.
Ownership of the team passed from American businessman George Gillett back to a consortium headed by the Molson family at the beginning of the 2009 season. This marks the third time the Molsons have owned the team.Canadiens official site
Wikipedia page in English, page Wikipédia en français
Official app: iPhone Android
The Gazette's faceoff.com and Hockey Inside/Out blog
La Presse's Canadiens section and Radio-Canada's hockey pages give lots of space to the Canadiens, of course.
SLAM! Sports page
Yahoo sports page