Monday, 25 August 2014

HABS-TOWN: "What a roller coaster ride!!"

Whether she's appearing on CJAD's "The Exchange" to talk about Social media privacy rights, working for your family in her capacity as a family attourney, or waving her bleu-blanc-rouge colours around town, today's guest on HABS-TOWN isn't shy to share her opinions.

Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman is a passionate Habs-fan. She brought her fandom to our nation's capital and back. With ninja-like precision she navigated a houseful of three hockey playing boys to possibly become the most opinionated of the bunch. Today she shares some of those opinions with us in HABS-TOWN.

What got you into hockey, more specifically the Habs?
My dad and brothers were always Habs fans and they're the ones who got me into hockey and specifically the Habs. I still remember watching the '93 playoff run with my dad. I became a bigger fan after the lockout in 2004 (I must have missed it) and have been getting increasingly hardcore every year since.  

What happened between the run in 1993 and 2004? Why'd you lapse and what brought you back? 
Well, I think from '93 to the late 90's I was too young to really know what it was all about but I can't say for sure. I have limited memories of being Ten.

In high school I spent most of my time working on fashion shows and debating (odd combination, I know) so I don't think it was until I branched out a bit more on my own in CEGEP that I truly began appreciating hockey and the Habs specifically. I also never played hockey so that might have led to me having less of an interest in it.

What got me back into it, interestingly enough was dating. I started hanging out with guys who were hockey fans and starting watching it again. It reminded me how much I had enjoyed watching as a little kid and the Habs - monster in me was reborn. Poor guys (laughs) they had no idea I'd be more into the game than them.

Do you remember your first Habs Game?
I don't remember my first Habs game but I'm pretty sure it was after they moved into the Bell Center (or at that time, the Molson Center).

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever? if so, whom, and why?
I don't have a favourite Hab ever, but my favourite all time player is Stevie Y.

I love him because he's not only an all around amazing player but he's also tremendously respected and admired by players, coaches and management throughout the league. I also had the privilege of meeting him last summer at a wedding and he was so gracious. People were literally lined up - at a wedding!! -  to get his autograph and he signed every last one, took pictures and spoke to everyone. 

A red wing as a favorite player. How does that happen?
I got into Stevie Y and the Wings because of someone I dated briefly. He was a Wings fan so we'd end up watching games together. 

My first impression of them was that they were the only Western Conference team that I'd watched that were talented and gracious. So many of those teams were just big burly guys who wanted to fight. Then there were the 2000 era wings with Yzerman, Shanahan, Chelios, Draper and the list goes on. Skilled, classy guys who wanted to play the game right. And I believe a lot of that came from Yzerman being their captain. They would never steal me away from my Habs but man were they fun to watch. Today, my mind is blown by Datsyuk's stick handling every time and the winter classic was awesome. Just good, ol time hockey.

Where do you like to watch games?
My favourite place to watch a game is the Bell Center. There is no other arena with the ambiance of the Bell Center. I literally get goosebumps during the opening of the games every single time. I also love seeing the Habs play in other arenas. I lived in Ottawa for six years and went to watch the Habs play the Sens whenever I could. It was really fun because a ton of people in Ottawa are Habs fans and it almost felt like being at home.

I also like to see the Habs when I travel, if I can, so I've been able to see them in LA, Florida, Anaheim and Boston. If I cant get to an arena to see the game I prefer to watch at home with my dog, Zoey, who is also a Habs fan.

Do you find living away from Montreal changed how you view the team at all?
I definitely think living in Ottawa made me an even bigger Habs fan. It's fun to be a fan of a "foreign" team. It made me want to be more vocal about it, that's for sure. And that stayed with me when I moved back home.

I also paid $15 more per month to get RDS in Ottawa so I could watch my Habs in French and on a network that respects them the way that they should be respected. So yeah, I love my Habs. 

Do you prefer to watch with guys? with girls? why?
I prefer to watch the game with someone who understands or at least cares to understand the sport. Male or female is irrelevant to me. But they have to be into the game! I also find it really interesting to watch with people who play hockey themselves because they offer really interesting insights into the game. My dad, for example, plays and refs so he's a ton of fun to watch with! And one of my brothers is a goalie so his perspective is always fascinating to me.

Do Goalie -  bro and Ref - Dad argue alot? Or are they always on the same page? Who do you find yourself agreeing with more?
For sure they argue. I see it less now since goalie brother and I don't live with ref father anymore but they still get into it whenever we're together. And I love to just sit back and listen when they do because they both know the sport so well. It's so much fun to learn from them. 

I also get into quite a few arguments with each of them given how opinionated I can be and I rarely side with one more often than the other. I just think it's so cool that you can look at the game from so many different perspectives. I consider myself a diehard fan but also kind of a new fan so I realize I still have a ton to learn and I'm lucky to be surrounded by people who know so much and want to share (and or tolerate my rants). 

Do you have any pre-game rituals or in game superstitions?
I have a ton of rituals and superstitions. On every game day, whether regular season or playoffs and whether or not I will be watching I MUST wear at least one item of red clothing. Typically it's a Habs shirt. When we win, I insist on wearing whatever item I was wearing for that game until it stops being lucky. And playoff time is always a Habs shirt or jersey. My dog wears hers too. I park my car in my garage in the exact same way during the playoffs and do my nails with Habs colours and symbols. I'm entirely convinced that these things make a difference.

What's the best game you ever went to? what do you remember about it?
Best game I've been too was this past April 5th. Given the (Conference) restructuring, the Habs were finally playing Detroit and I was ecstatic. Even more so when we went up 3-0. 

When the Habs are winning the Bell Center is the best place in the universe to be. But then the dreaded 3 goal lead habits set in and the Wings tied it up. It's funny because I had wanted to wear a Detroit hat along with my Habs jersey and scarf but was told it was too confusing,(laughs) so I didn't. 

Let me tell you, as much as I love Detroit, when they tied it up my heart sank. I always believe our boys will persevere though and Gionta proved my point about how important Captains can be when he scored that 4th goal. From that point on, the energy was restored at the Bell Center. 

What a roller coaster ride!!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories that are somehow related to the Habs?
Just this past June on the afternoon of game 7 against Boston, I was standing outside of my office and I saw a camera crew walking in to my building. So I approached the guys and asked if they were there to interview me for being such a huge Habs fan. They looked confused so I showed them my nails which were all painted red, except for one finger that was blue with the white habs symbol. After seeing that they agreed to interview me so I brought them out to see my car which I covered in Habs stickers and other paraphernalia. When they saw that I had a Youppi toque, they insisted that I wear it for the interview. So, I appeared on Global news that night at six wearing a Habs tuque (while otherwise dressed as a lawyer) talking about my love for the Habs.

What are your expectations for the 2014-2015 edition of the Montreal Canadiens?
I think this is going to be an incredible season for us. Given how far we got last year, there is no reason to assume we can't do as well if not better. I think we've picked up some interesting guys and (remember you heard it here first) I believe we have the power to bring the cup back home in 2015.

So you don't feel that the Habs may suffer from a leadership void this year? They've gotten younger in the off season after jettisoning much of their veteran talent - including their captain. 
You know, I don't feel that there's a bit of a leadership void this year because I find we have so many guys who fill in different aspects of what makes a captain great. I think being a captain takes more than having a strong presence with the team as well as skills on the ice. I think it takes experience, poise and ability to keep the team and the fans motivated when things look good as well as stepping back and letting everyone enjoy the victories. 

I liked Gionta, LOVED Koivu and would love to see someone on our team step up and do the job right. But I also think that no matter who our captain is, we have a great team. Guys that motivate and encourage, guys that play the game the way it should be played and set a great example even though they're not as vocal. It all comes together to make for an awesome team.

I will say, one of the things I enjoy most about the Habs at the moment is the dynamic between Budaj and Price. I love that Budaj is constantly giving Price little tips, commenting on things that he sees and helping Price become better and better with every game. Those are the kinds of things you want to see from your teammates and why I think that no matter who the captain is, everyone has an important leadership-type role to play.  

You're a big Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles fan, which Habs do you feel best represent the personalities of each turtle, and why?

Based on the pranks he pulls and his general goofy attitude Galchenyuk is Michaelangelo. I'd say Price is Donatello. He's not the most talkative turtle but he's both a great leader and a brain. Leonardo would have been Gionta but I'll give it to Markov now. A great leader, skilled player and well respected in the locker room. I'd say P.K. is Raphael not so much because he has a bad attitude but he can certainly have an attitude one when he wants to although he is still an essential part of the team. 

I think I may have had the cerebral Markov as Donatello,  prankster P.K as Michaelangelo,  "cool but crude" Brandon Prust as Raphael,  and to me calm, cool, stoic Price is Leonardo. 
Can I like your turtle choices but prefer mine?

You can, but I think I get the last word here.
(Laughs) Fair. 

For more from Izabel Czuzoj-Shulman, follow her on Twitter @LadyLawyerMtl

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