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This column is the first in a series dedicated to lovers of the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge worldwide. It recounts the stories of a select few, who, by the will of God, have been given a sentence worse than death – exile from Montreal. This motley collection of misfits has taken the time to send me tales which I hope will provide insight into the life of an international Habs fan.

Our first guest is a poster who goes by the name of JeanLucPilon. Japan is an inspiring country. In the home of samurais, sushi and the most amazing technologies on the planet, one is surrounded with ancient history, awesome culture and a first look at the future. Reminiscent of Montreal but with a slight twist. There is ice hockey in Japan, just like there’s baseball (the name “Ichiro Suzuki” springs to mind) and soccer (See: World Cup 2002).

Japan is currently ranked 20th by the International Ice Hockey Federation, and a resident team won the Asia League Ice Hockey championships earlier this year . And in the recent entry draft, Los Angeles selected a goaltender, Yutaka Fukufuji, making him the first Japanese player to be successfully drafted and signed in NHL history . It might not be baseball, but it’s still better known than their rugby team (the esteemed Cherry Blossoms ). However, there is no substitute for NHL hockey.

JeanLucPilon (JLP for short) was fortunate to have been born in Montreal, and experienced, even for only a short time, the greatness of the 70’s Habs. A pity he was a Bruins fan at the time. He’s been in Japan for 16 years now, working as a sports writer and art critic, and missing out on our last Stanley Cup, as well as the abysmal rebuilding process. He converted to Habinism, and has been a fanatic ever since.

JLP keeps up to date through the internet. Without this marvellous invention (thanks Al Gore), he would probably be stuck trying to follow the scores in week-old newspapers shipped over from the US. Radio stations (CJAD and CKAC) that are kind enough to stream free online provide his daily intake of hockey. Other pages of interest are stats and message boards, and the personal approach taken by HabsWorld is a big incentive. The quick stumble from the futon over to the computer in the morning to turn on the Habs game isn’t as bad as it sounds.

There are many fond memories about the Canadiens. With the defeat of the Bruins in ’04, he wrote the following haiku:

Scream out the window:

“The Habs have won the series!”

Passersby confused

All in all, JLP is fortunate. He is comparible to Zatoichi , the blind swordsman whose senses were finely tuned because of his lack of sight. While he cannot see the Habs, JLP nonetheless understands them as well as many. For example, he has never seen Pierre Dagenais (the person), but could put a face to the name, and even recite random statistics, should he be called upon to do so. Perhaps, one day, there will be worldwide TV access, with fans from Mexico to Japan able to watch ‘les Canadiens’ to their hearts content. Until then, he remains one of an army of Zatoichis, biding their time.

If you are an international Habs fan and would like to be featured on HabsWorld, send a U2U to theaussieposse.