Wednesday, 4 July 2012

HABS-TOWN: "It’s so much more than a jersey"

When you're at the Bell Centre for a game and you see the auctions going on for the Canadiens Children's Foundation, if you're like me you're always tempted to look at some of the items on display. There's always some signed jerseys, tickets to a show, and plenty of autographed photos. No one knows more about those photos than Jimmy Menegakis.

Jimmy is a 42 year old lifelong Hab-fan. Born and raised in Montreal and married with 2 children, Jimmy isa chartered accountant who runs his own private practice, JDM Consultation Inc. in Old Montreal. That's his day-job.

Jimmy has been a collector of signed sports memorabilia for over twenty years and it is his passion, enthusiasm and drive in that arena that has evolved into another business venture, JDM Prestige Memorabilia. With JDM Prestige Memorabilia, Jimmy brings his love to others by selling one of a kind signed sports memorabilia (primarily jerseys and photos).

Jimmy has a vast collection, a vast hockey knowledge, and a vast amount of hours spent surrounded by the Club de Hockey Canadiens making him an excellent man to speak to for this edition of HABS-TOWN.

What got you into hockey, more specifically the Habs?
I remember watching the Habs ever since I was a little boy. My family tells me that during the playing of the national anthems, I would stand up with my arms along my sides, head held high and listen attentively! I remember being fascinated with the speed of the game… the excitement with every rush and every shot, the cheers of the crowd and the enthusiasm of the announcer (Danny Gallivan). WOW! What a rush! On top of that, my team - The Habs kept winning…. especially every Saturday night. I became addicted to the games, to the winning tradition, to the buzz and rush! Habs versus Bruins, Habs versus Leafs, but…. MORE IMPORTANTLY Habs versus Nordiques! In my humble opinion, there is no greater rivalry in any sport than the Habs against the Nordiques… Dale Hunter, Mario Tremblay, Patrick Roy, Chris Chelios…. WHAT EXCITEMENT! I can still feel the pulse and vibrations of those games as I put down my thoughts to answer your questions. My fingers are tingling ! I miss those days! The hours couldn’t pass by fast enough for me to go home from school and watch them play. I’d go to school the next day and that’s all my friends and I would talk about. Did you see that hit? Did you see that goal? Alas, now that I am older and wiser, I find the time flying by too quickly!

Do you remember your first Habs game? when was it? who took you?
The first Habs game I attended was a playoff game at the Montreal Forum in the 1980s. I was about 13 or 14 years old when my cousin Nick called me out of the blue and said he got a small batch of tickets to the game. The tickets were “standing room.” I didn’t care where I was sitting or standing, the important thing was that I WAS THERE! Later during the game, I remember being excited because someone left the game in the third period and the usher let me take his seat. I got to sit down! Yay! I believe it was against the Boston Bruins. That was the year Steve Penney emerged as a playoff hero. I remember someone holding a big sign saying “Pennies from Heaven.” The Montreal Forum was ALIVE and vibrating with a buzz that was so contagious! I felt it all over my body.

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever? if so, whom, and why?
Patrick Roy and Chris Nilan. These 2 guys showed the grit, heart and character that was electric! You can see and feel their hearts pulsate right through the CH crest on their jerseys. Their passion, their emotion transcended from ice level into the stands and through my television set. They were outspoken and their actions backed up all their words. More importantly, they cared! Wearing the CH jersey meant something to them. I have had the pleasure of meeting both of them. Those were 2 huge thrills for me in my life!

Where do you like to watch games?
I like to watch games in the comfort of my own home on my big screen TV (in my basement) surrounded by my sports memorabilia.

What's wrong with the current edition of the Habs?
Other than the obvious lack of size up the middle, I believe we lack players that understand and feel the rich tradition of the team and what it means to put on the Habs jersey. It’s so much more than a jersey. It’s a fabric of rich tradition, winning, competitiveness, heart and glory. I teared up watching the movie “The Rocket.” In my opinion, every player should attend an intensive 6 hour Habs University where they are FORCED to see The Rocket, Le Gros Bill, The Flower, Boom Boom, etc. in action.

What do you think GM Marc Bergevin should pre-occupy himself with this summer?
At this point, I would build for the future. Get draft picks. I don’t believe the Habs are that far from having a complete team. However, I believe that a winning culture is instilled from the top. Enthusiasm is contagious and must trickle down from the top. It is management’s responsibility to not only get the right players (mix of talent, heart, grit and determination) but to also cultivate a positive and enthusiastic environment where everyone is on the same page. We need more guys like Brian Skrudland, Mike Keane, Doug Risebrough and Mike McPhee. We need someone like Bobby Smith at centre.

For more from Jimmy Menegakis, follow him on Twitter: @jdm_ca_habs

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