Sacred Blue

Several weeks ago, Louis Belvoir, his wife, Yvonne, and another couple had dinner at La Fenouillere, one of the city's great restaurants, with a view of the graceful Pierre Laporte Bridge through the window and a perfectly roasted rack of lamb on the plate. When word circulated through the dining room that the Colorado Avalanche had just beaten the Red Wings, in Detroit, to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, Belvoir says, the people at his table grew silent. "You know, Samuel de Champlain set up a strategic fort on the site of this city in 1608. But it took almost 400 years for the first Detroit Red Wing fans to show up. I'm ashamed to say it, but I wanted Detroit to go to the Cup final so we wouldn't have to go through this. Our hope, of course, is for Montreal in years to come."

For now, though, the Avalanche, nee les Nordiques, stands on the brink of greatness, and all of Quebec City seems to have lost its head over the prospect. Like Saint Jean Baptiste.

Sometimes you can find everything you're looking for in a detail.
On Tuesday morning I was stumbling to the corner store to get three gallons of orange juice and 500 aspirin when I saw something I haven't seen in eleven years on my street. Three boys--nine, ten years old--were out there on the pavement in baggy shorts, T-shirts the size of houses and sneakers that looked four sizes too big, doing what little boys have always done: fantasizing about their heroes.

This time, though, the kids had hockey sticks with dirty tape on the blades, and they were batting an old tennis ball around the street. This was something new in the neighborhood, so I stopped for a moment to watch and listen.

"Three seconds left on the power play!" one kid yelled. "Joe Sakic shoots!" He let fly with a three-mile-an-hour slap shot that dribbled off his friend's knee. "Score!"

It was no surprise that the boy had scored. In the sunlit attic of a kid's imagination, no possibility exists but to score, and with Monday night's draining Stanley Cup marathon still fresh in his mind, some inner urge had told the boy to get this thing over with right now.

A second kid now took up the narrative. "Lemieux checks Fitzgerald into the boards," he bellowed, and checked his friend into a Toyota Corolla. "Two minutes! Roughing!" After a few seconds' pause, a related idea occurred to him. He put a halfhearted scowl on his face and clenched both fists. "Now Lemieux wants to fight!"

Well, maybe. More likely, Lemieux wants to rest. We all do. After a month's worth of civic high blood pressure, we have that rarest of things--public, communal satisfaction--and now it's time to enjoy it. The glow comes from an artificial source (a hockey team we barely know has won the city's first championship), and it won't last forever. But it feels pretty good, doesn't it? Feels pretty good that the kid inside all of us has scored the winning goal.

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