There is only one step between love and hate, they say. The switch from love to hate at a Montreal Canadiens game does bring up every truth of that cheesy adage.
Prior to the game, the thrill and excitement as people gather for the tailgate party is palpable, and so far, the Habs are the best team the world of sports has ever created.
Painted faces, wigs, and flags are seen everywhere: our team made it to the playoffs, and they come home for another battle that will require maximum support.
Inside, the inspiration and the energy that lift the crowd as the team enters the ice for the warm up have no possible comparison. For the next two and a half hours, nothing is more important than the Montreal Canadiens.
Tonight, we will be the better team. Tonight we will make it through, and beat those big bad Bruins.
And then come the national anthems.
It has been taught by our predecessors in how-to-be-a-Canadiens-fan class that everything that has to do with the Boston Bruins is a subject of despise.
But then, how exactly does the booing of the American national anthem represent a statement in terms of Habs-ism?
Three of the Montreal Canadiens players were born in the U.S. and grew up on Long Island. One actually scored the first goal of the night, and the other is supposed to represent a pillar in terms of defence. Oh, and he's the alternate captain. The last one won the cup with the team back in 1993, and brought a dead power play to life after the trade deadline.
Among those 21,973 fans attending the game, I do believe that there are Americans standing, sporting Habs jerseys, and belonging to Habs land as proudly as Canadians; adding to the many more who follow the team from the USA.
Nonetheless, my hat goes off to the fans who decided to respond with shushes, and started to sing loud and clear to counter attack; trying to pick up the pieces.
As the starting line up was announced, starting goaltender Carey Price – who let in five goals the game before – did not gather much appreciation from those who expected back up goalie Jaroslav Halak to hold the fort.
The disappointment is legitimate, I suppose. He has been weak, and there is no human way to be satisfied with his performance. But then, what is the purpose of booing him and/or Bob Gainey if that will do nothing to the decision?
Moreover, whether we like it or not, that player will defend the net, our net, from our side, for our team.
Now, the first period is always the best one. Regardless of the score, there are two more left so encouragement is the name of the game.
It can be a power play, a penalty kill, a face off, or an icing: the Habs have the most supporting and unconditional fans in the world. But only in the first period.
The second is a bit trickier. Tension is higher; stress, headaches, and vocal troubles start to kick in.
Then comes the third period, the deadly one, where every mistake is going to be pointed out, and the guilty man who dared to commit the fatal error is eligible for human sacrifice.
Between the “f-morons” and the “you don’t deserve the money we spend” screams and insults that have been shouted to the players, the Habs wonderland turned into a nightmare.
Watching your team lose to its most hated rivals can certainly draw anger and frustration. But aren’t fans supposed to be unconditional fans?
By the end of the game, Carey Price became the new Tim Thomas; victim of name chants and boos.
All that being said, what are the odds that if this team would win again, Price will come back to being the Messiah sent by God himself to save the most amazing team that is the Montreal Canadiens; led by the most amazing GM and Head Coach who is Bob Gainey?
You tell me.
This piece is a follow up to previous articles, by other writers:
A Lesson In Class For the Montreal Fans
Montreal Canadiens Fans: Welcome Back to Bandwagon
You Stay Classy Montreal Fans