This is my own opinion. Feel free to disagree of course.
What happened last night with the Habs was the result of an entire season of disappointment. But what I want to say here has nothing to do with player performances.
Right now, I’m talking to the fans.
Montreal fans pretend to be the best fans in the league. I beg to differ.
I’m a huge hockey fan and have been following the Habs since I was seven years old. Although I feel our expectations about the teams success were too high, I’m just as angry and disappointed about this season. But there is no excuse for what I’ve seen and heard last night.
As I said, I’m not even talking about players. Yes, they were bad. They played without energy and motivation. But the fans made it worse.
Montreal fans may be the loudest, and may be the most emotional about their team. But are easily the most ruthless and degrading in the whole league. Here, in Montreal, fans can easily destroy a player’s confidence or even worse, their career. And I think we destroyed a part of Carey Price this year.
How can we pretend to be true fans when a player struggles, he becomes a target for fans harassment and media scourges.
Price had every right to raise his arms when he was applauded by the crowd after a routine stop. All year fans have pointed at him as the main reason of the team's struggles. My finger has always been pointed at Bob Gainey, all 10 of them actually.
I call that bad management. It’s not just bad goaltending.
Does this situation remind you of another? True fans should remember what happened to Patrick Roy—and mostly, the consequences.
Back then, fans blamed Roy for bad performances when the team in front of him was just horrible. The blame should’ve been dumped entirely on coach Mario Tremblay for not pulling Roy out of the game after he allowed eight goals in a 9-1 loss to the Red Wings.
But the fans blamed Patrick for his performances and booed him. The result? Patrick never played another game in Montreal after that—and the team was horrible for the next 10 years.
What’s happening now could just as easily throw Carey Price out of Montreal. Carey can’t even walk the streets of Montreal without a bodyguard and get insulted—and threatened by fans no less!
So what are you fans trying to prove exactly? Are you trying to destroy his confidence? Are you trying to make him hate Montreal? Are you trying to get him traded?
And what if he does get traded thanks to the fans attitude and then develops into a star goaltender somewhere else? What then? Who’s to blame?
The facts are simple. We were told Carey would be the great goaltender we’ve missed since Patrick Roy left town. We were told that the centennial season would be great and that everything would be done to make it memorable. We were told we had a strong team with all the tools to get far in the playoffs. We were told not to worry, that our young goaltenders could withstand the pressure.
Now ask yourself, who actually said all that? Who promised that great year? Bob. Should I remind you that Bob is no longer a player. He does not make any difference on the ice.
Since when does everything turns out as planned in the NHL??And since when does a general manager’s promises can be taken for granted? Well, Bob was right that this year was going to be memorable. But that’s about it. The rest of his predictions never happened.
Carey is not to blame in all this. Maybe his performances were not up to what we expected. Maybe we wanted him to be a top starter right now.
But again, these are our expectations based of Bob Gainey’s promises. How do you think he feels being the center of attention and being asked to carry an entire struggling team on his 21 years old shoulders with barely a year of experience?
We’re not talking about a veteran here. If it were Martin Brodeur having those problems, I’d understand the fans' disappointment and attitude. Brodeur is a star, has been a top goaltender for years and he’s expected to bring a higher level of play than other goaltenders. He wants the pressure, and delivers—because he has experience.
Look at his early years, for the first three years, Brodeur had Chris Terreri, an experienced goaltender, to mentor him and fall back on.
What does Price has? Nothing. Bob traded Cristobal Huet away.
Anyone that knows a bit about player development should be aware that goaltenders take the longest to develop. So why are we so disappointed about his performances? And haven’t you ever heard of the sophomore jinx?
Only a handful of players become instant stars. And even less goaltenders manage to do so. We’ve been blinded by last year’s success, our desire for a Stanley Cup and a replacement for the long-gone Patrick Roy.
We wanted Carey to be exceptional. We wanted him to skip the development part and become a star right away. It didn't happen this way. Too bad.
Now, unfortunately, Carey will probably need to take a step back before he can move forward again. No thanks to the fans and their lack of support. So even harder times are expected for Carey. I can’t begin to fathom how hard it must be for him. He looks strong, but that doesn't mean he is.
It’s been a very tough year. Rumours of drinking and partying have twirled around him all year. He's been accused of not being focused. What were you doing at 21? I'm sure none of you were partying and none of you were drinking...yeah right! So why should we expect something different for Carey?
He’ll need time to recover from all this. Now what do you think our young goaltender needs to recover? Water bottles thrown at him? Being ridiculed on a routine stop? Being booed? Being harassed on the streets? Cause right now, this is the kind of "support" Montreal fans have been offering.
Carey needs time to develop and mentors and he’s had none of the two. He’s got nobody to look up to right now and nothing to fall back on.
Expect Bob Gainey to resign as coach and general manager. He’s got a press conference today (April 23rd) and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason for it. It’s been five years since he arrived, and the team just took a huge step back. His five year plan crumbled at the worst of moments.
My idea is to bring in Patrick Roy as coach. Who better than the last star goaltender we had in Montreal to help a struggling youngster like Price?
Patrick is a guy that can control a dressing room and have players play up to their potential. He’s proved he can coach in the juniors, he’s tough, he’s bilingual and is definitely not afraid of Montreal’s media circus. The perfect choice.
In conclusion, hockey is a team sport and requires a team effort. The responsibility for this year’s bad performance has to be felt by every single of the 34 players who wore the Canadiens jersey this year. This is the reason for the Canadiens struggles, right now, they’re all blaming Price and there is no team effort.
Carey is responsible for his performances at some level, but without the help, support and backup he requires, it’s just not logical to expect legendary goaltending from him.
I hope fans can take that into account before insulting, harassing him, and throwing stuff at him. Because just like Carey Price, who can be either extremely good or extremely bad—Montreal fans can be the best and the worst of the league.