Why Are The Montreal Canadiens Called Habs

The Montreal Canadiens are one of the most storied franchises in the NHL. Founded in 1909, the Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cup championships, far and away the most of any team in the league. They are an institution in Montreal and throughout Quebec.

The Canadiens are also commonly referred to as the “Habs.” This nickname dates back to the origins of the franchise and comes from “Les Habitants,” a term used to refer to French settlers in Quebec. When the Canadiens were founded in 1909, the team was meant to represent the Francophone population of Montreal. Naturally, “Les Habitants” transitioned into “the Habs” over time as a shorthand nickname for the team.

The nickname has stood the test of time and is used affectionately by Canadiens fans and even within the organization itself today. The team’s American Hockey League affiliate is named the Laval Rocket, but from 2005 to 2015 they were known as the Hamilton Bulldogs. Before that, Montreal’s AHL affiliate was actually named the Hamilton Habitants, directly referencing the nickname.

Beyond the team’s own affiliates, many of Montreal’s biggest supporters also employ the “Habs” nickname. The Montreal Canadiens Alumni Association, made up of former players, is referred to as the “Habs Alumni.” One of the team’s most well-known fan clubs is called the “Habs Faithful.” These types of organizations surrounding the Canadiens franchise have helped cement “Habs” in the culture around the team.

Not only is “Habs” used widely in the spoken vernacular, it frequently appears in print and visual media related to the Canadiens.Canadian newspapers, magazines, and websites commonly refer to the team as “the Habs” in headlines and articles. Much of the team’s own merchandise and apparel uses phrases like “Go Habs Go!” and features the nickname prominently. This further reinforces it as the most popular moniker for the storied franchise.

While “Canadiens” remains the official name of the team, and is still frequently used, “Habs” has endured as a term of affection for one of hockey’s most successful and popular brands. Its origins as a short-form of “Les Habitants” tie it directly to the Francophone history of the club and its connection to the identity of Quebec. For both long-time and new fans of the Montreal Canadiens, “Habs” elicits a sense of pride, nostalgia, and passion for an iconic hockey team. That is why the “Habs” nickname remains so cherished to this day.

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