Church ad urges prayer for last-place Canadiens

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MONTREAL (AP) -- It's come to this for the Montreal Canadiens: The Catholic church is asking people to pray for the last-place team.

The church has placed an ad in Montreal newspapers in hopes of an eighth-place finish and a spot in the playoffs. The ad shows the Eastern Conference standings with every team listed except the Canadiens. In eighth place, the final playoff spot, it simply says, "Let Us Pray."

Faced with declining church attendance, the Archdiocese of Montreal is known for its clever campaigns to solicit funds each year. The one-time ad was designed by local firm Bos advertising and appeared in French-language newspapers Thursday.

The firm says it has long been considering an ad that combines Quebec's two major religions -- Catholicism and the secular passion of hockey.

The Canadiens, last in the Northeast Division, are in next-to-last-place in its 15-team conference.