We’ve all heard about how French-Canadians are seen as rude and arrogant. To avoid being niavely discriminating, I know that it’s a stupid and unfair comment. There are rude and arrogant people in every society in every country; and I’m sure a majority of the French-Canadians are nice and polite people. But if you think about it, there must be a reason why people say these things.
Maybe we can find some clue in the Canadiens/Bruins playoff series, since afterall, the Montreal Canadiens are the only NHL team left with their home crowd being mostly French-Canadians.
A main reason why the NHL attracts a lot of fans is because it’s a sport about traditions and respects. Back in the earlier days when hockey players are unhappy about how their opponents are fighting, they will drop their gloves and solve their differences on the ice. After a good fight, the players will give each other a nod, a pat on the shoulder, or even a handshake. They do this, because they have respect for each other. Fans love this, because it feels right.
But what fans would boo the singing of the U.S. National Anthem, during the first home game of their playoff series during their teams’s 100th year celebration?? What’s the reason for the boos?? Canada and the United States aren’t at war, even if they are, isn’t the spirit of sports suppose to transcend politics?? Despite the some rough stuff during the first two games, the series wasn’t particularly dirty, and Boston played two very respectable home games. The Canadiens were down two games only, there’s still plenty of hockey to be played, the booing was un-called for.
Don’t the fans of Montreal know that four players (Higgins, Bouillon, Komisarek and Schneider) in the roster are Americans?? How would it make the US players feel with the home team “supporting” them like this??
Canadiens GM and interim-Coach Bob Gainey called their home team fans “bullies” in an interview immediately after their 4-1 loss to the Bruins in game 4. Gainey was defending his young goaltender for his imitation on Patrick Roy’s mock celebration 14 years ago. That was the year Montreal booed their hometown hero out of town, after an 11-1 loss to the Red Wings dated December 2nd, 1995.
After allowing nine goals on 26 shots, the Montreal crowd jeered him every time he made a simple saves. With coach Mario Trembly reluctant to pull his goalie, leaving their All-Star Netminder out to dry, Roy raised his arm in mock celebration when he made a routine save.
Forteen years later, Carey Price faced the same treatment from his hometown fans. After giving up four consecutive goals, blowing a one-goal lead from the first period, the crowd jeered the young net-minder everytime he made a simple save. In response, Price raised his arm just like his Canadiens predecessor in mockery.
Bob Gainey said that it isn’t fair how the fans treated the young netminder, who just last season single-handedly helped the Habs to re-claim their first conference champions since 1991. With 24 wins, 3 shutouts and a save percentage of .920, Price lead all rookie goaltenders in every aspect of the game during 2007-08’s regular season.
During the post-season of 07-08, Price recorded a 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins, and became the first Canadien Rookie to post a playoff shutout since none other than Patrick Roy. The Habs will go on to win that series, with Price earning another shutout in a 7-game series.
At the age of 19, Price was forced to step up as the starting goaltender for the Canadiens, after the club traded away his mentor Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals.
Price despite enjoying a good start this season, began to tail-off in terms of performance, after his ankle injury which side-lined him for nearly a month. Similar to Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins and Cam Ward of the Hurricanes, Price shown signs of regression, commonly known as Sophmore Slumps. Maybe, it’s because of his conditioning after the injury, maybe the Canadiens pushed him a bit too hard too early, or maybe he just needs his space and time to learn and grow.
But you won’t find pity or even patience with Canadiens fans. In tonight’s game, or even this entire series, Price wasn’t his previous spectacular self, but his performance is nevertheless decent, at least for a young goaltender with so much pressure on his shoulder. As Gainey explained, the four goals he let in tonight weren’t his faults, and he did made a couple of great saves on break-aways and open-shots. Every Canadiens on the ice and on the bench are as much responsible for loss as Price, but he seems to be the one taking the most heat.
At this moment, there are only two teams which loss 4 straight games in the first round, the other team being the St. Louis Blues. Both teams loss key players due to injury, both teams played below their fans’ expectations, and both teams finished out their season at home.
What does it tell you when one team’s fans gave a standing ovation to their losing home-team, thanking the players for a great attempt, and another team’s fans booing their 21 year-old goaltender who single-handedly won many many games for them in the past, and then clearing out of the stadium before the game is even finished??
If this is what you called one hundred years of hockey tradition, then I want no part of it, thank you. Watching things like this happen, I am ashamed to even call myself a hockey fan.