Just like old times for Habs legend

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Dickie Moore clutched his precious ducats like they were a pair of Stanley Cup rings.

Here in this city steeped in hockey tradition, the buzz surrounding the two-game series between ancient foes Montreal and Toronto has reached a fever pitch.

So much so, in fact, that even a Hall of Famer such as Moore can't wait to step into the electric Bell Centre tonight to catch the next act of the sport's most historic rivalry.

"You bet I'm going," Moore said in a phone interview yesterday. "I'm looking at my tickets right now.

OLD DAYS

"We always used to play back-to-back games against the same opponent. This brings back memories of those old days. This is what makes hockey hockey."

Moore, whose No. 12 was hoisted to the Bell Centre rafters before a game against the Leafs on Nov. 12, has a soft spot for Toronto.

"In our era I had a lot of success against the Leafs," he said. "They always let me score on them.

"Toronto has been a great rival over the years and the fact both teams are fighting for a playoff spot makes it even better. Let's face it, these are the playoffs for both teams, really. You can't ask for more than that."

Tour buses stuffed with Leafs fans started rolling into town yesterday afternoon. There is not a hotel room to be found in the downtown core.

Come game time, hundreds of Leafs supporters in blue and white will be shoehorned into the Bell Centre's upper deck.

"It's always intense when the Leafs come in," Habs forward Mike Ribeiro said. "And since you don't have back-to-backs often, it's going to be crazy."

The Habs and Leafs have not met in a playoff series since 1979, so this is about as close as it gets.

"This is terrific for fans in both cities," Canadiens coach Bob Gainey said. "If you could build a scenario, this is a good one.

"At one time the Leafs were supposedly headed for the playoffs and we weren't. Then it was the other way around. Now it's anyone's game."

One familiar face won't be in the building tonight. Former Habs great Jean Beliveau will be in Atlanta today for services honouring the recently deceased Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion.


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