Life isn’t always so easy as a Montreal Canadiens fan. The Habs do well for a couple weeks and look like they’re going to win Lord Stanley’s cup, then they tamper off and look like they’d be better suited for the youth league in Cote-St-Luc. It’s hard knowing that the overwhelming majority of Canadiens fans were extremely young or not even born when the Habs hoisted the cup in ‘93, nevermind talking about the win in ‘86 and the ‘89 cup finals.
The core group of Habs fans see the Detroit Red Wings as a dynasty and have never experienced the true glory of uncontested Montreal Canadiens dominance. This group includes me. I was six years old when the Habs won in 1993 and have seen mediocre playoff success in my life as a Canadiens fan. Fortunately, over the years, I’ve been treated to some amazing hockey – finishing first in the Eastern Conference, the come back of the century against the New York Rangers and beating up on the Bruins a few times in the playoffs, but that’s about it.
It seems as though the Canadiens have been in a rebuilding process for my entire lifetime and the major issueis that the team isn’t rebuilding properly. Why? Because Candiens fans are impatient. I know every hockey fan who lives in the greater Montreal area is a general manager and could do a better job than Bob Gainey, but I guess that everyone is entitled to their opinion. The fact is that a rebeuilding process cannot be successful in Montreal, because Habs fans can’t stand losing. We lose a game (okay a big game standing-wise) to the Panthers, after decisively beating the Rangers and the Devils over the weekend, and people go crazy. Some post-game callers on CJAD and The Team 990 said that the players shouldn’t get paid for playing so lousy, it’s shameful and one caller went as far as saying that he’ll never watch a Canadiens game again…. he’s no longer a fan.
Let’s all relax. A wise man once said something about crawling before you could walk and the Habs are trying to run without ever having learned how to crawl in this rebuilding process. We’ve been hovering around 8th spor in the East for a handful of years, missing the playoffs a few times and finishing first in the conference once. A true rebuild has to start from the ground up. The Habs have been in a renovation process for years, fixing pieces here and there, kind of like a middle-aged man getting a makeover. Ultimately we’re looking for a rebirth, and that won’t happen with being a bottom feeder in the NHL standings for at least a season. The issue is that the fans can’t handle it. If we cry to help when we’re in 8th, imagine what would happen if we were in 15th.
The Penguins didn’t magically stumble upon Malkin and Crosby and Fleury as top picks… they fell to the bottom of the standings, had shameful records for a handful of years and were basically going through a bankruptcy process before they becoming the powerhouse that they are today. Granted, it was lucky that their top picks for a few years are now internation superstars, but that’s just luck of the draw.
Until Habs fans muster up the ability to live with a few really shitty seasons, we’ll remain a middle to the pack team, while teams like Carolina and Tampa Bay win Stanley Cups.