According to TSN on Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 to sweep the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference quarterfinal series 4-0. However, it was the profound signs of national solidarity from the Montreal Canadiens' spectators that could be remembered most from the contest.
Prior to the game, (just as was the case for game three of the series on Sunday night), the Canadiens showed immense support for anthem singer Ginette Reno, who received a thunderous applause from the capacity crowd at the Bell Centre. Then the crowd sang O Canada very emotionally with Reno.
Now, many of the Canadiens fans might have shown support for Reno because she was coming back to sing after suffering a recent heart attack. However their emotion might have meant something more.
The fact that Canadian hockey fans sing the national anthem with the home anthem singer is nothing new in the Stanley Cup playoffs. In Edmonton and Vancouver, the anthem singers have traditionally sometimes stopped singing so the crowd can be heard in unison.
But the fact the Canadiens' fans have showed so much support for the Canadian national anthem has significance. Since the 1960's, there has been significant support from a percentage of Quebecers to separate from Canada.
However in a provincial election earlier this month, the Parti Quebecois, which historically has had a sovereignty ideology, was hammered by the Liberal Party. New premier Philippe Coulliard has pledged to work together with the other Canadian provinces and the federal government according to Rheal Seguin of the Globe and Mail.
The support the Montreal crowd showed for O Canada might also help strengthen the Canadian Olympic movement, where athletes from Quebec have had immense success at the Olympic Games in recent years. The fact that Olympians from Quebec have shown so much national pride cannot be ignored. It also helps that the federal government continues to fund high performance amateur athletes, of which many call Quebec home.