Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Habs Fans Responsible For Crappy Team

When Guy Carbonneau was first let go by the Canadiens, the overwhelming sentiment in the city was that it was a move that had to be made, even if it was unfortunate.

Two months later and after a disastrously short playoff run, fans and reporters are having second thoughts and now have shifted the focus of their rage to Bob Gainey with shouts of "Off with his head!' reverberating throughout the city.

But why Carbo was fired has more to do with the fans than anything that happened on the ice or in the dressing room.

Ridiculous fan expectations and the rabid media frenzy have made it nearly impossible to field a competitive team. The second-guessing is so exaggerated that the selection of the coach's necktie is up for review.

It's not unfair to say that fans and reporters actually believe that they could run the team better than management and take every opportunity to deconstruct, second guess, and denigrate every decision taken.

Fans who can't balance their own chequebook are convinced that they could better manage the salary cap than Bob Gainey.

The Habs players themselves, are subject to unprecedented scrutiny that includes outrageous invasions of privacy that make Hollywood paparazzi look like wedding photographers.
Players who are in a slump or otherwise under-perform are pilloried in the press and on radio
talk shows which discuss the team 24 hours a day.

It's hard not to notice that players traded by the Canadiens always seem to do better wearing another uniform.

The booing of the team's players in the Bell Centre has become altogether too common.
Do fans actually believe their cruel treatment of Carey Price will somehow make him a better player or more motivated?
While fans say that they love their team, as much as they love their own family, would they ever consider booing their hockey-playing daughter or son because of a poor on-ice performance?
When Price ultimately becomes a free agent, do fans think that the memory of the humiliating treatment he was subjected to will add to the allure of re-signing with the Habs?

The situation is so bad, that for players, (including francophones) Montreal has become the Chernobyl of the NHL.
Could you imagine Guy Lafleur telling Sam Pollack that he'd rather play in Nashville!

The added kicker of the French language problem has also contributed to a toxic situation. Don't underestimate it.
It's rumoured that 75% of player agents discourage their charges from considering playing in our city. Cruelly, because of the Canadien's deep pockets, agents have entered into bad faith negotiations with Montreal management in order to jack up offers from other teams, à la Marion Hossa.

How long will it be before fans realize that the only big fish we're likely to land in Montreal is at Waldman's, off of St. Laurent Boulevard.

It's ironic that with all the media attention, nobody in the Quebec press is willing to tell the truth about the popularity of Montreal as a player destination.
The only exception is
TSN commentator, Pierre McGuire, who is the only reporter with the guts to go public and say what everyone in the league won't.

Today the Montreal media is vociferously demanding the choice of a francophone coach to replace Bob Gainey and the team has already caved. The problem is, that most of the successful francophone NHL coaches have already worked for the Canadiens, all fired after the briefest of stints and all victims of fan and media abuse. The field of eligible francophone coaches is decidedly thin and being forced to choose from such a limited pool cannot be considered a bonus.

Guy Carboneau was not wrong when he openly questioned the wisdom of firing the Habs coaches every two years. When asked if he'd consider a return to Montreal as coach, Jacques Lemaire almost fell over himself laughing.

This year, the team captain, Saku Koivu has been the subject of a vicious smear campaign because of his inability to speak French, with calls for mandatory French lessons for players made by language zealots.
Do you think that Saku will be recommending the team to other Finns, or advising them to seek alternate green pastures? This abuse, for a player who was instrumental in creating an eponymous cancer clinic in the Montreal General Hospital, does not go unnoticed.

The latest fan and media campaign says that more francophone players are needed to shore up the team because, as the argument goes, only 'they' possess the heart to play in a French city. Argh!

Statistics are trotted out to show that past Canadiens teams who won the Stanley had large contingents of Francophones, but lost in the argument is the fact that Francophone players are few and far between in the NHL, with their numbers reduced to under 8% from over 20%, twenty-five years ago.

Things look decidedly grim for Les Glorieux, who are unfortunately destined to be glorious no more...

1 comment:

  1. Bravely and accurately stated. Thanks. The more attention can be draw to these issues, the quicker we can improve. But this process may take years or decades. Ma parole.

    Homme De Sept-Iles