Montreal Canadiens Fans: Racist or Harmless Humour?

Kyle W. BrownContributor IIMarch 12, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - FEBRUARY 12:  PK Subban #76 of the Montreal Canadiens carriers the puck in his first NHL game against Scott Hartnell #19 of the Philadelphia Flyers on February 12, 2010 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Flyers defeated the canadiens 3-2.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
You may have seen the picture from last night on a blog such as Deadspin or PuckDaddy.

In case not, two Montreal fans dressed up in afros and blackface and went to the Bell Centre to cheer on the Habs, and in particular, talented prospect P.K. Subban.

The two donned the outfits, complete with long black sleeves, and wore t-shits that said "Subbinator," complete with a Canadiens logo as they sat in the crowd to cheer on the team against the Edmonton Oilers.

While some sports fans consider the act harmless and comedic, others are labeling it racist and offensive. Either way, the picture is drawing analysis from many different sports blogs and fans alike in the blogosphere.

While I'm not here to input my own opinion on which way the act fell, I will point out that it's not the first time that Montreal fans have committed an act deemed "classless" by others in the sporting world.

Fans will remember the playoffs last year, when Habs fans booed and sung "Go Habs Go" overtop of the American anthem as their team was losing horribly to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.

There is also a history of racism in the stands of Montreal. Some people will recall an incident in 2002 when a Montreal fan hurled a banana onto the ice at then Carolina Hurricanes' black goaltender, Kevin Weekes. Following the incident, the Canadiens organization urged security guards to look for signs of racism. Looks like that idea has died down following last night's actions.

Further back, while it is hard to state that this action represents the current generation of Quebec hockey fans, some sports historians will remember the adversary faced by Herb Carnegie, the first African-Canadian to be offered a contract in the NHL, when he played in the Quebec Senior Hockey League.

While no comment has been made by the Canadiens organization or any of their players (including Subban), some fans are urging the broadcaster, RDS (Reseau de Sports), to explain the decision of the cameraman and producer, who kept the pair of fans on the screen for nearly ten seconds, according to Deadspin.

While no major media outlet has picked up the story, it will be interesting to see if it will be, and what the reaction will be of the general public. 

Unfortunately, the details are still fairly scant, but please feel free to leave your opinion on the matter in the comments section.

(My apologies for not uploading the photo, but I couldn't due to BR's Terms of Use. You can find it on Must Win Situation or Deadspin, however.)