February 26, 2012

A case for the drab Habs

Around a month or two ago I had sudden pains in my left-kidney area that cannot be described. A quick trip to the hospital, I eventually left with some percocet, a strainer with which to catch the stone, and a sterilized container with which to keep it for later analyzing.

As the whole obscenely painful ordeal coincided perfectly with the most obscenely painful Habs season in my long time as a fan, there the stone will sit, in my medicine cabinet, as reminder of how the bottom of the barrel truly feels. Let me tell you, this shit hurt. I mean absolute murder on the pain meter, but it doesn’t quite loom and linger mentally like a terrible season does.

A sharp, crystal-sharded, (not so) miniature asteroid for all future seasons to be measured by.

But has the time come to jump ship? Maybe join my prideful father-in-law as a full-fledged Sens fan?

Fat chance, old man.

It does go without saying that this year has been a cruel mixture of unimaginable letdown and false hopes for all Habs fans alike. This mixture, which has by now run dry of the hope side, has become so poison, so potent that it has brought me through stages of apathy that I never thought could materialize in Habs fandom...

From the "Fuck it, let's tank," stage to “Why am I so excited? All right, here we go. We can do this boys,” and back down to a more serious “Forget it, I’m canceling the Center Ice package so I have no choice but to miss watching these monstrosities that are masquerading as Habs players, these Disney on ice productions.”

It’s true, this season marks the first time I’ve ever considered missing a game by choice.

Yes, every true fan of any team overreacts when it comes down to the wire and your team just isn’t winning. You become blind to team effort, to fatigue, to injuries and to the simple humanity of your teams players. You’re aware of these things, but they don’t consistently register during bad droughts. However, It is until now that I have really meant what I scream about to my completely oblivious girlfriend after a Habs match.

The Canadiens currently lurk at 27th in the league in wins, 28th in points, and 29th on the PP. There are a lot of variables to why they have lost so many games and they don’t just pertain to individual players or individual roles, be it offence, defense or Price. It’s not just coaching, either.

When the Habs players, or any players, give those unbelievably bland interviews about how their astronomically bad season can only be remedied with a “team effort”, they’re telling the truth. All it ever sounds like to big fans is bullshit, like a pile of empty promises, but it really does boil down to every role not clicking together. Fans are just more than tired, if not overtired, of hearing it. As are the players of saying it, which was most evident in an interview with Lars Eller after .

I hate to reference the dreaded Massholes as an example of success, and it has been said before, but if you look at last year's Bruins team it was group where every role you could name was clicking together.

There are always popular players and roles to blame for an abysmal campaign. For example, the outcome of this Habs season has rarely been put on Carey Price by media or fan.

If we’re to look at just a couple of Montreal’s percentages, currently 26th in the league in winning percentage when being outshot, and 9th in shots against, we’re left to think that if not for our beloved netminder this team may have set various all-time records for complete and utter suckery. That just isn’t the case, but fans shouldn’t have to read too much into everything like that. Not every fan lives and breathes a hockey team.

Whether it’s mostly on account of questionable managing by Pierre Gauthier, poorly executed special teams, coaching, soft defense, or a lack of fluent French, the fans deserve a winning team to cheer in any city. Their team should win, regardless of any perfectly formidable excuse, and they should win in spades.

There are so many sides to this hideously ugly coin with 62 games already in the books, but if any of us want the credibility of calling ourselves truehearted Habs fans, we should also be able to call ourselves the few that, however impossible, kept a positive outlook for the future through the most poorly managed, poorly executed season in a long while.

It has proud ring to it.

- Amos Legault

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