Montreal Rocket

Arena Name: Molson/Bell Centre
Capacity: 21,273
Built: 1996
Address: 1260, de la Gauchetière Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3B 5E8
Last Game: 2003
Ice Surface Size: Regulation
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Molson Centre
Molson Centre
What was the Arena Like?
I was misinformed.

Based upon things I had heard about the Bell Centre, I wrote last year on this website that "In 1996, the Montreal Canadiens abandoned the legendary Montreal Forum and moved a couple miles southeast to the Molson Centre, a gigantic, cavernous building with little of the charm or atmosphere of the previous home of nos glorieux." Let the record show that I have now seen a Habs game at the Bell Centre, and GOOD LORD IS IT AWESOME. For an early-season game against Phoenix, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible, with constant sponaneous chants, heckling, and songs bellowed from 21,273 throats. I've only ever left a hockey game feeling like I've just walked out of a rock concert three times in my life - several playoff games at the London Ice House, the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, and now the Bell Centre. It's that good.

But it wasn't that good to junior hockey. If you were the sort of person who loved strangeness, and you really wanted to find out what it was like to watch a hockey game in an empty aircraft hanger, you needed to go and watch the Montreal Rocket, which you could do along with a couple hundred diehards from 2001 to 2003 after the team left the Maurice Richard Arena.

The arena, which was renamed in 2002 from the Molson Centre to the Bell Centre, dominates its block. It is a massive red brick building with the domineering presence of a train station, which it sort of is - the Lucien L'Allier commuter station is located in the same building. Inside, there are three tiers of seats - red in the lower bowl, maroon in the middle, and grey and blue in the upper deck - a gigantic video board, and all the other bells and whistles you'd expect from today's NHL. For Rocket games, the junior team often drew less than a thousand people - that's less than 5% full - and so you pretty much could have an entire section to yourself. After a few seasons of that madness, the Rocket moved on to Charlottetown, a city that appreciates junior hockey much more in spite of having an almost equally unsuitable arena.

The QMJHL is back in Montreal, and let us hope they never try playing at the Bell Centre again. It's a fabulous place to watch an NHL game, but NHL arenas are simply too small for junior hockey in almost all cases, and doubly so when it's a place like Montreal.
Inside the Bell Centre
Bell Centre
How To Get There
From A-720: Take Exit 4 to Rue de la Montagne. Turn left on St. Antoine Street West, then turn right onto Rue de la Montagne. Turn right onto Rue de la Gauchetière Ouest. The Bell Centre will be on your right.
What's it Used For Today?
As mentioned, the Bell Centre is home of the Montreal Canadiens, as well as the usual concerts and trade shows you'd expect out of a large new arena in a major city.
If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail me at email and I'll update the guide.



Copyright © Kevin Jordan 2002-17.
All rights reserved.
Last Revised: January 25, 2017