Montreal, QC—The topic of the day in Montreal and around the NHL today is the booing that Habs goaltender Carey Price received during the Canadiens' preseason loss to the Boston Bruins last night.
I watched the game from the comfort of my living room couch and was doing live, in-game tweets while all of this was going on. Once Price let in the first goal—93 seconds into the game—you could see a shift in the sentiments being expressed through the Twitterverse.
While a small minority jumped all over Price for letting in a bad goal, the majority started to wonder how long it would take before the real boo-birds came out.
More importantly, however, many came to Price's defense, explaining that it was only a preseason game and to give him a break.
That, to me, was a welcome sight.
I have to admit that even before turning on the television, I was wondering to myself how long it would take before the fans started booing Price.
After all, he is the one left standing after GM Pierre Gauthier traded playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to the Blues this summer. Sure, fans fell in love with Halak and many felt that Price should have been the one traded, but how is that, in any way, Price's fault?
As goal after goal went in on Price last night, you could feel the tentative crowd start to turn on the Habs' young goalie.
It got to the point where there were even mock cheers when Price would make a routine stop.
So what does that say about the fans in this city? Are people who boo their own team really fans? Is it possible to be a fan of your team and still boo them?
In one sense I imagine that you can be, since the word fan comes from the root word fanatic.
Fanatics don't tend to be the most rational people on the planet.
But in the true sense of what it is to be a modern-day fan of the Montreal Canadiens, shouldn't booing your team immediately disqualify you as a fan?
Booing players in Montreal is nothing new, and if we look back over the last 20-odd years, we'll see that the hometown crowd has booed the likes of Patrice Brisebois, Vladimir Malakhov, and yes, even the great Patrick Roy.
Well, despite Habs fans' rich history of berating their own players, I say that enough is enough.
I understand that people are passionate and want the Canadiens to win, but booing players, regardless of how well or poorly they play, does not help.
If you are truly a fan of the team, you should want your team to win and be successful. If that is the case, then how can you boo?
Booing can in no way help Carey Price or make him a better goaltender. Nor will the boos bring back Halak or contribute, in any way, to the success of the team on or off the ice.
So how can people who boo the team call themselves fans then?
In my book, they can't.
Sorry folks, but if you boo Price, boo the team for a bad performance, or in any other way contribute to the team having less success, you are not a fan.
Some may say that the opposing teams' fans boo the Habs. Yes, they do. But they are supposed to, and the hometown boys can easily ignore that.
If you call yourself a Habs fan but choose to boo your team or its players, you are actually worse than the opposing team’s fans. By calling yourself a Canadiens fan, buying a ticket to a game, and then booing your team when you are supposed to be the wind in their sails, you are directly contributing to their downfall.
We have to remember that hockey players are human beings and being booed by the very people who are supposed to support you is without a doubt a painful experience.
If it happens once, the players can likely shrug it off. But when it is systematic—as it has become with Carey Price—the only effect it can have is to destroy the player’s confidence and make him scared to make a mistake.
Anyone who is anyone will tell you that you can't play the game scared and if you do, it is a recipe for disaster.
So I say enough. The booing has to stop.
Sure, as a paying customer you have the right to boo if you want. I will not dispute that fact. But this is not about rights; it's about doing what is right.
If you truly are a fan of the Canadiens and want this team to win, then stop booing, immediately, because you are just shooting yourself in the foot.
So is it any surprise then that free agents don't want to play in Montreal? Is it shocking that Habs fans are thought of, in many parts of the NHL community, to be terrible fans?
Sure, we're the loudest and most voracious fans when the team is winning, but we can turn into a dead weight around the Canadiens' waist when they are losing, and that is not what a fan is supposed to do.
If you are a fan of this team and want them to win, then support them whether they are winning, losing, playing well, or playing bad.
I assure you that if you take this approach, it can only contribute to the success of this team on and off the ice.
As for Carey Price, I think my friend @kyleroussel—of Cowhide and Rubber—said it best when he tweeted, "I've long said that many fans would rather have their Halak tears justified rather than see Price succeed."
Michael Cammalleri himself went so far as to say, “That's our goaltender. It didn't go ideal for him, but nobody in this room was booing him. If you want to identify with this group, then get behind him. Because we are."
The line has been drawn, so make your choice people: Are you a true Habs fan or not?