posted by Lyse
I've been a Habs' fan all my life. And at my age that means “for a very, very long time”. I remember witnessing Gros Bill's 500th on the old black and white. I was struck with an immense teenage girl crush on Ken Dryden the first time he ever donned his trademark pose in front of my eyes. And I waited anxiously for the on-ice break out of the next living wonder who happened to be Guy Lafleur.
Hockey has always been an important part of my life, from Saturday night's ritual Soirée du Hockey with René Lecavalier to the latest Montreal Canadiens goalie controversy. My support for the Bleu Blanc Rouge did falter away momentarily – from one lock-out to the next – coming back along with renewed fervor at the start of the 2005-2006 season.
The fact is: things have changed. The NHL, and the sport hockey has changed. Of course, our Montreal Canadiens are still in the eyes and in the hearts of many an great national institution, but hockey is no longer the cultural icon it once was. More than ever, this professional sport has become part of the entertainment business. The operative word here is business.
Yet a lot of fans, don't seem to have realized this is not our forefathers' hockey anymore and they keep on thinking they're entitled to have a say in every decision the club makes, from hiring coaches to signing or trading players. That, I can live with. Yes, even Jean Béliveau has been booed in his days. Many more before him and others after. Even my own all time fave Habs goalie Dryden was. Hey, we all have our own favorite hockey players, be it for hockey related reasons or not, even if I don't know quite what to make about the latter.
Anyhow, I'm pretty much concerned about this phenomenon I've been witnessing lately on the internet, in forums, blogs, or on Twitter. And call-in shows. Especially, when it comes to our Habs, but not exclusively limited to them.
I've recently translated in French @metricjulie's excellent piece Your Guide To Being A Montreal Canadiens Fan because once more, some crazy so-called Habs fans have demonstrated the Dark Side of our society. Because the roots of the problem lie deep.
Due to an extended sick leave over the past few months, I've been more active in a few French-speaking hockey forums. And the things I've read! I won't say you wouldn't believe, but... some get irritated beyond repair when others don't agree with their opinions about not only who's the best goalie, or who's been revealed as the best summer acquisition for the team... I used to believe, wrongly, it was more a thing with Québécois pure laine folks. I've been proven wrong. Same stuff happened to the respectable Habs Inside/Out site these past few months so they had to implement moderation.
In my humble opinion, it all lies with the fundamental notion of respect, an old concept that seems to have been lost on quite a number of unfortunate souls. Some have blamed the media for influencing people, myself included, in their common rage against one or another player or coach or even GM.
They are sport media personalities who have established their names with trash talking or using bad taste ethnic remarks to stir up their followers à la Howard Stern or his Québec City equivalent Jeff Fillion, we all know who they are. Whereas Stern and Fillion have been shown the way out of their respective Montreal and Québec outlets, the fundamental problem remains alive when it comes to sports shows on TV and radio and to some extent in printed form.
But what pains me, is when a respected journalist goes out and makes a stand both on Twitter and in his column, in a very respectable way, and the floodgates open with morons denouncing him for expressing his opinion and attacking him in the most brutal and personal way. Strangely enough, those other radio and TV personalities who go out of their way to intentionally stir up la merde, barely seem to fall prey to the same type of treatment. Of course, they have been criticized, but most of the time, it's been done the most civil way, sometimes with a touch of humour, but always within the bounds of good taste.
A few weeks back, some readers caught a couple of established journalists/bloggers for a comment made about two Canadiens' players who happen to be brothers. There was somewhat of a backlash, but as far as I know, it's been kept in the proper tone.
Yes, emotions fly high with everything Habs, especially after a loss or right smack amidst the turmoil of the latest goalie controversy. But is this reason enough to ignore those old fashioned values that I've been brought up to honour: civility and respect?
I do like the colour red and will acknowledge that others prefer the colour blue. But in my mind that's no justification for me to go about bashing on them all over the place. At the same time I still hope that people won't hold it against me, in spite of trying very hard: I don't like the color brown, never did, never will.