Looking back at this date in 2005, the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens held a pre-game ceremony prior to their game against the Boston Bruins to pay tribute to the now departed Montreal Expos as they raised a commemorative banner high above the bleachers of the Bell Centre with former teammates Gary Carter and Andre Dawson at each side and displaced mascot Youppi in the middle hoisting the tribute to a team that once was the Montreal Expos. The banner featured the numbers of all players now of which have been retired including numbers 8 and 10, alongside Tim Raines' number 30 and Rusty Staub's number 10.
After 36 years and nearly 3,000 Major League games in Montreal, the Expos played their final home game on the 29th of September, 2004 at Stade Olympique.
To send off their team, a paid attendance of 31,395 showed up, recording what would be a season best crowd. A crowd of nearly 3,000 people had showed up the night before to support their team.
The final game was considered one of uncertainty for years after a decade of questioning as to whether or not baseball and the Expos would survive in Montreal.
With the help of the Montreal Baseball Project, the Expos are set to return in the near future for the first time since 2004.
The Expos had been a dysfunctional franchise in their past long ago. They got past it at one point and then it came back. When it did, getting out of it was nearly impossible, not to mention the struggle of money which remained a problem for many years, forcing the organization to officially shut down once the 2004 season came to it's end. This was a very sad time for the entire organization including those players like Gary Carter who were hit hard by the catastrophe alongside members of the front office including well renowned owner Charles Bronfman.
For countless reasons, the Expos had long been a dysfunctional franchise. By their final season they were owned and operated by Major League Baseball and speculation of their exodus from Montreal followed them like a dark cloud.
During their final season, the team was completely powered under the watchful eye of Major League Baseball itself due to the tremendous amount of speculation surrounding their future.
When asked about his thoughts dating back to the final game ahead of the Blue Jays first set of exhibition games in Montreal, Dave Kaufman who is currently the special events coordinator for Expos Nation said, "That last game feels like yesterday. You can’t imagine the emotions I’m going through getting ready to watch the Blue Jays sit in the Expos dugout. It feels so weird. Ultimately, it’s like any loss, right? It never goes away. Some people use the analogy of an end to a relationship. Others liken it to a death. I felt like we had lost a part of my city’s identity. There was always a sense of pride that we were a Major League city."
With the help of fans all throughout Canada, Montreal will be able to prove once again that they are indeed a Major League city.
For the past two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have played host to the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds during 2 game exhibitions sets at Olympic Stadium and are set to host a third consecutive series against the Boston Red Sox starting on the 1st of April, 2016.