Unlike places like the old Chicago Stadium and the Boston Garden, the Montreal Forum remains above ground. Montreal is a city known for preserving its history and while the Forum is no longer home to hockey games anymore, constant reminders of a time not long ago remain evident in the building.
At first glance, one would find it hard to believe that this gigantic entertainment complex was once home to Richard, Beliveau and Lafleur. From the AMC movie theatres, to the Future Shop electronics store, advertisements remain very evident throughout the exterior of the building. Upon going inside at the main entrance on Atwater, the first reminder of hockey history is finally present.
When looking down in front of you, a giant Canadiens logo is engrained on the sidewalk. Above the emblem are the words “La Fierte Pour Toujors“ inscribed into the ground. Little bronze championship banners surround the Canadiens logo in paying homage to the 24 Stanley Cups won by the franchise.
Once in the building, one will immediately notice a giant Habs logo in what is a small replica of center ice on the main floor. Looking down on center ice is a miniature grandstand full of old seats from the Montreal Forum. Just beneath the grandstands, there is a statue of perhaps the most famous player in Canadiens history, Maurice Richard. The statue of the Rocket appears to show him sitting down in the penalty box with a calm demeanour.
While the replica of center ice is what most people will associate with the Habs at the now named Pepsi Forum, there are other features in the building that also speak to the past. The ability to see all levels of the Forum from center ice gives you the feeling that you are still in an arena type setting. There is also a tiny little store called The Red Line where one can find lots and lots of Canadiens merchandise.
As Montreal is a city where there are no shortage of places to drink, the Forum is no different. Whether it is the sports bar, the nightclub or one of the restaurants, there are plenty of places to sit down and grab a pint. What most of the businesses at the Forum do though is create little reminders of the past.
If you are seeing a movie, making a purchase at the store or grabbing a bite to eat, you will come to notice little reminders of what was once the Montreal Forum all over the place. Glass encasings of old boxing gloves and ticket stubs from past concerts also speak to the fact that this building was about more than just hockey. Despite all the reminders to the past though, one wonders whether the Forum would be better served having a different purpose in the city of Montreal.
Make no mistake about it, the Pepsi Forum is in no way a tourist attraction. Maybe there are some who are angered by the fact that this once great hockey shrine now acts as a gigantic entertainment complex. Sure it would be nice to see hockey games being played at the Forum today, but that does not look like it will happen anymore. There are plenty of reminders in the Forum today of those great Stanley Cup moments from the past. From autographed memorabilia to the banners of the former greats, the storied Canadiens history still has a place at the corner of St. Catherine and Atwater.