May 07, 2008
As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is PPP from the Toronto Maple Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets, fondly recalling the Montreal Canadiens.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the passing of the Montreal Canadiens' 2007-2008 season. It was a season that started amid questions about whether the team's league-leading power play could mask its shortcomings. For 82 games, the Canadiens flew high above the Eastern Conference on their way to top spot. However, like Icarus, the wax holding their wings together melted when they reached the hotter atmosphere of the playoffs.
The franchise and its fans did their best to bring credit to themselves throughout the season. The club condoned players' villainy while its former stars were committing perjury and inciting brawls. A local politician and fan was unable to stand the club's actions and decided to cluelessly wade into the language debate. It's tough to argue with the logic that the Canadiens should have a larger Francophone presence in the line-up, considering the superstars like Guillaume Latendresse that the club is developing. The jilted girlfriend treatment that the fans give should act as a warning to any local boy that dares to see past the long-gone ghosts of the Montreal Forum.
However, Guy Bertrand was not the only fan who sought to anger the hockey gods. Fans were quick to anoint the team's goalie of the future, Carey Price, with a nickname that could only be classified as sacrilegious. Some fans even took to documenting their blasphemy in video form while others chose to suggest that Jesus was one of them; which is ridiculous, because like any good son he clearly cheers for his dad's team.
The Habs' first-place finish in the Eastern Conference did nothing to change the club's recent illustrious history of alternating between failing to qualify for the playoffs (1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007), bowing out in the first round (1994, 1996, 1997, 2006), or, as on three previous occasions, flaming out in the second round (1998, 2002, 2004). Speaking of flames, the Canadiens' first series victory in four seasons was met with the calm (video) and controlled reaction that is expected from a fan base that has been historically stoic (video) and reserved (video) in victory as in defeat. Of course, it is impossible to believe that any of those thousands were real fans.
In the end, the pressure of being likened to one of hockey's greatest goalies became far too much to handle for the team's supposed backbone. Rather than relive 1986, Price turned in a performance reminiscent of another young Habs goalie. While Price was expected to repeat Patrick Roy's performance in carrying an overrated Montreal team to glory, his first taste of the playoffs will likely be remembered for his successful aping (video - 5:06) of one of Roy's later achievements.
One of the hockey gods (video) eventually ran out of patience with the Canadiens' franchise, as the litany of blasphemies and embarrassments built. He was forced to send his avenging angel (video) to repeatedly (video) smite the Habs. As if watching the collapse of such a promising season at the hands of a 13 goal scorer was not enough salt in the wounds, the team's best player was told to take a hike by Russia's World Championship entry.
And so friends, as a final tribute, I hope that you will all join me in singing a final hymn to the memory of a season in which the Montreal organization, its alumni and fans strived to redefine the definition of class. It is a favourite song that used to be regularly heard amongst the masses in the Forum, and I could not think of anything more fitting.