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Last night RDS started to show episodes of the Nos Canadiens TV series. This show is in a 'One day in the life of...' format and gives us a glance at our Habs personality and their life off ice.

I watched the Darche and Price episodes thinking 'here comes the cheese' before it started but ended up entertained. If you want to see those episodes, I'm not sure if they will be aired again but if you dont want to miss the next ones, tune in to RDS next Saturday for Plekanec at 10:30 pm and Markov at 11:00 pm

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Show Biz Chez Nous: Just hanging with the Habs

Yes, Nos canadiens is something of a promotional tool, but the show still offers a fascinating peek into the lives of players


MONTREAL - When Nos Canadiens was launched with much pomp and fanfare in November, some media wags took the producers to task for making a series that was clearly something of a promotional vehicle for the Habs.

And it is. But it's also must-see-TV for anyone with even the slightest interest in the most storied franchise in professional hockey.

The series is officially sanctioned by the Canadiens and one of the main backers is Bell, which has a vested interest in upping the profile of the team that has won the most Stanley Cups in the history of the NHL. Bell has a minority ownership stake in the Canadiens and owns the sports network RDS, which has a multi-year deal to air all Habs games.

Nos Canadiens, in an unusual twist, premiered only on Bell media platforms in the fall, via Bell Mobility and on its satellite service Bell TV (formerly Bell ExpressVu).

Now it's coming to a TV near you, even if you're not a Bell subscriber. It began on V (formerly TQS) on Friday night and kicked off its RDS run Saturday. Each network will run two consecutive episodes a week for the next six weeks.

There are 14 half-hour profiles of Habs players in all, with host Anne-Marie Withenshaw hanging out with the hockey stars while they do everyday things (by NHL-player standards), like lunching at upscale eateries, playing with their kids or shopping for a costume for a Halloween party. The series made its bow with profiles of goaltender Carey Price and veteran winger Mathieu Darche and continues with snapshots this coming Friday of ace centre Tomas Plekanec and injured defenceman Andrei Markov. Other players in front of the cameras in the coming weeks include captain Brian Gionta, Benoit Pouliot, Alexandre Picard, Tom Pyatt, Scott Gomez, Lars Eller, Michael Cammalleri and James Wisniewski.

You don't go to Nos Canadiens for investigative reporting into the Habs. Don't expect a hard-hitting report on the highs and lows of general manager Bob Gainey's tenure or a TMZ-style expose of Price's (mis) adventures on St. Laurent Blvd.

But you do get a peek into the lives of these millionaire hockey players that can be fascinating -even if the producers were clearly given limited access. Take the episode on Price that aired this past weekend. You see the 23-year-old goalie from Anahim Lake, B.C. driving in his SUV with Withenshaw and his first question to the blond TV vedette is classic Price -"You like country music?"

Withenshaw claims she does and once he has the torch 'n' twang blasting on the car sound-system, he tells her "this song kind of reminds me of home."

They then head to his Old Montreal apartment where they hook up with his girlfriend Angela and her mother Alice, and head to -wait for it! -the AMC Forum to go bowling with Withenshaw.

Withenshaw -who also hosts the Guide Resto Voir series on Canal Evasion and is one of the panellists on C'est juste de la TV on Artv -has almost finished shooting the series. She spent Thursday with Habs newcomer Wisniewski, who told her about what he called his "month of adaptation" following his trade from the New York Islanders in late December. She is set to spend the day with her last Hab today though she's not sure who it will be.

She says the oddest encounter was with Cammalleri.

"We were supposed to meet Mike Cammalleri at a restaurant in Old Montreal," said Withenshaw. "Then they finally call us and say -'Mike needs treatment on his body and the chiropractor has been called to his house, so meet him at his house.' So when we get to his house, he has his massage table in the middle of his dining room and his doctor flew in from Toronto to treat him.

"So he takes off his shirt and he's like -'OK I'll just do the interview lying down while I'm getting my treatment.' So the guy starts doing chiropractor moves on him and then he starts giving him acupuncture while we're talking to him with electrodes attached to the acupuncture needles. The muscles contract on their own. And he's totally not bothered by it at all. We kept rolling and during this time we were having this really interesting sports-psychology discussion. But it was just surreal. I'm watching Michael Cammalleri with no shirt getting electro-acupuncture treatment on his personal massage table with his name and number monogrammed on it. For me, that's the magic of the show."

Another memorable moment happens in the Markov episode airing this Friday when the all-star Russian defenceman takes Withenshaw along as he shops for a costume for the Habs Halloween bash. He eventually settles on a "sexy Scot" outfit complete with a kilt, which makes for quite a sight!

Nos Canadiens airs on V Friday at 7 and 7:30 p.m. and on RDS Saturday at 10:30 and 11 p.m. It will begin airing on TSN2 in the next few weeks.

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