Friday, 9 December 2011

The Reality of Today's Habs Fan

I went to last night's Habs game at the Bell Centre. Trust me, I'm not bragging. If anything, I'm looking for pity and I can't ever recall feeling that way about my team in the 18 years I actually have recollections of being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens. Part of the joy of having tickets to an upcoming game is the anticipation as the date printed on the tickets draws near. The commute is enjoyable as you see more and more people pile into the metro along way wearing the same sweater you are. You puff out your chest a little bit as you get off at the Lucien L'Allier metro station because you feel the eyes of those not going to game on you with envy. There was none of that last night. No anticipation. No optimism. Even the ticket usher's greeting of "bon match" seemed a plea of desperation rather than a genuine wish.

There should have been a buzz in the building last night. It was a Thursday night, the start of the "Montreal weekend". A Canadian team was in the house and not just any Canadian team, a Stanley Cup finalist. Hometown boys Roberto Luongo, Max Lapierre and Alex Burrows were back in town. There was no buzz. I have a personal tradition of giving the team a standing ovation when Michel Lacroix brings them onto the ice regardless of how bad things are. For the first time, I felt like an outcast as everyone around me simply applauded politely with a subdued ovation normally reserved for when a season ticket holder is welcomed on the jumbotron.

Even as the game got under way and the Habs raced out to a 3-0 lead, each goal scored gave the crowd a sense of "wow, they're going to blow THIS?!" rather than joy of an impending rare home victory. When Mason Raymond scored to put the visiting team on the bored, it was as if the world's largest Dirt Devil was turned on inside the arena to completely suck out any emotion there was in a crowd more suited for a golf tournament than a hockey game.

When the inevitable finally happened and the zombie march towards the exits was underway, there wasn't a sense of anger but rather a sense of numbness. The predictability of it all didn't necessarily make the loss any easier to cope with. It just felt like another stroke of a hammer driving home the point that this team just isn't that good. I will always love my Habs. I will always wear my jersey proudly and continue to greet them with a standing ovation. I just wish it was out of acknowledgment for a job well done rather than out of habit.

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