Words, Main Photography & Audio by Amanda Katherine
The Canadiens are currently down a couple of spots from the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic Division. That means most of the city’s hockey fans are a bit disappointed. But one following in Montreal is actually pretty stoked – the Boston Bruins fandom.
Indeed, much to the chagrin of Habs fans everywhere, there’s quite a strong following of Bruins fans right here in the city. Curious about why they support the Bruins, and not the Habs, I spent time with some members of the fandom. Here are my top five observations of Boston Bruins fans in Montreal:
Robert Camarra, 60, has been a Boston Bruins fan since the early ’70s. He describes himself as a “proud” Bruins fan and actually finds pleasure in arguing with Canadiens fans.
“We’re loud,” Camarra says, “and Canadiens fans don’t like it.”
Camarra raised his daughter, Leana, to be a bold Bruins fan too. Today, she’s 33 and looks back fondly on her childhood passion for Boston:
“I was always very confident to tell people that I cheer for the Bruins,” she says. “I would never keep it on the down low.”
Dane Savoury, 30, has been a Bruins fan since 2012 and shares that same mantra of loud and proud. Take a listen to how he describes his behavior at one Habs-Bruins match at the Bell Center:
Gianni Delli Colli, 26, has been a die-hard Bruins fan since childhood. He got the Bruins fever from his father and proudly wears Bruins merch all around the city – especially during playoff time, when he prances around in his beloved black and gold jersey.
“It’s my identity at this point,” he says.
Patrick Di Iorio, 17, is also a born and raised Bruins fan, who took his cue from his Bruins-loving mom.
“I actually always liked that everyone in Montreal hates the Bruins,” he says. “I never hide the fact that I’m a Boston Bruins fan.”
They look down on the Habs
For some Bruins fans, hating the Habs is as natural as breathing. Leana was raised anti-Habs not just by her father Robert, but by her grandfather and uncle as well:
“Every time the Habs played, our family watched the game – but you had to root for the opposing team,” she says.
As Leana became older, her dislike of the Habs grew stronger. She understood the role that language and politics played in the team’s organizational structure and, as a fan of the game, that really turned her off:
“They’d rather have French Canadians on the team than pick better players,” she says.
Savoury echoes Leana’s observations:
“They let go of P.K. and Prust in the same 12 months. They let Radulov get away, the only person with vim and vigor. Just one bad decision after another from that organization,” he says.
Di Iorio says he used to hate the Habs with a burning passion. But lately, he doesn’t mind throwing them a wink of sympathy:
“I used to hope the Habs would fail. But they’ve just been so terrible that when something works out for them, I’m alright with it.”
Delli Colli doesn’t share that same sentiment of pity. In his own words:
“I really, really detest the Montreal Canadiens.”
They get roasted on the regular
Bruins fans might be loud and proud, but they’ve definitely met their match when it comes to fans of the Canadiens. As Di Iorio recalls, one encounter with a Habs fan at the Bell Center came a little too close for comfort:
“My friend and I were up in the nosebleeds, where you got lots of drunk dudes. After the Bruins won the game in overtime, this guy reached for me and yelled, ‘stop smiling, you cocky bastard! I’ll kick your ass!’ He was slurring a bit, so I think he was drunk.”
In that instance, Di Iorio just laughed it off. But things aren’t so funny when it comes to getting chirped by close friends:
Every time the Habs win against the Bruins, I get a good week of roasting.
Delli Colli and his friends bug each other a lot too. He admits, though, that the rivalry unites them:
“If it’s Bruins versus Habs, my friends and I get together to watch the game. We debate a lot,” he laughingly says.
Although Delli Colli appreciates the competitive spirit of the rivalry, there’s one type of fan he absolutely cannot stand:
“The worst hockey fan is the one who just says, ‘Bruins suck.’ I respect people who bring up interesting points, but don’t try to talk hockey if you can’t back up your statement.”
Robert Camarra takes pleasure in heated exchanges about hockey. Take a listen to how he describes a recent conversation he had with Habs-loving coworkers:
They love the city of Boston
Every single Bruins fan I spoke to ranted and raved about the city of Boston. Some popular adjectives used were “beautiful,” “energetic,” and “special.”
They all seem to have a specific love for Boston’s arena too. Take a listen to how Delli Colli describes the TD Garden:
Patrick Di Iorio agrees, having caught a game in Boston for his 16th birthday: “It’s a lot smaller than the Bell Center, but it’s loud. They’ve got great energy.”
Robert Camarra remembers the ‘Old Garden’ fondly. “The rink was smaller, but the game was intense. So much atmosphere compared to the Montreal Forum. Watching a game from the Garden on TV was definitely something to look forward to.”
They love each other
Across the board, the fans I spoke to all agree that one of the best things about being a Bruins fan in Montreal is the immediate, undeniable bond formed when you come across a kindred spirit:
“When you watch the Bruins at the Bell Center, you don’t feel like you’re alone,” says Robert Camarra. “No matter where you’re sitting, there are Bruins fans. And you high-five each other without a second thought. It’s cool and fun.”
Delli Colli concurs. “If I’m wearing the Bruins logo, and I pass another fan, they’ll take a second to high-five me, or compliment what I’m wearing.”
Patrick Di Iorio loves crossing paths with another Bruins fan, especially at the Bell Center.
“Even though they’re a stranger, you feel like they’re family.”