The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs played a playoff game, a meaningful game, against the Montreal Canadiens I was 6 years old. Despite my asking on the TSM Pressbox earlier in the week if I am old, at 38, I’m not that old. However, seeing how it’s been 22 years since the Leafs and Habs hooked up in a playoff series, I have no real hate for the blanc, bleu and rouge (pardon my french spelling). As I have said before, my two favorite NHL hockey team are the Maple Leafs and whomever the Ottawa Senators are playing on a given night. So forgive me for not caring all that much that the Habs are doing well, one way or the other.
So it is quite surprising to me to hear folks in the MSM totally surprised that Toronto has become a temporary Habs hub. Let’s look at a few of the simple facts. Toronto is home to many who were born, raised or at one time or another lived in Montreal. Many people in “my generation” who were living in Montreal moved to Toronto a long time ago. I know of half a dozen or so in my own circle of friends and associates. They are the ones with the Habs flags flying out of their cars these days.
There is, much to my disbelief, a certain degree of civic pride. There are some who are now on the Habs bandwagon for the sole reason that they are the last Canadian team standing. I have heard them while grabbing a sandwich at lunch, I have listened to them call in talk shows. I don’t follow the rationale, but I know they are out there.
Then there are those who like to cheer for either the underdog or those who simply like to be part of the crowd. The Habs, love em or loathe them have been the serious underdog in both the series vs. the Capitals and the one vs. the Penguins. We, we are reminded by some in the MSM, living in loserville. It is not so hard to understand why some here would love to find a reason – as far fetched as it may be, to latch on to something positive. I totally get it. Add to that those who suddenly watch the WJC (despite Toth’s loathing), or the millions who’s annual viewing of the Superbowl is the first and only NFL game they will watch every year. Remember those days when the Skydome held 50,000 fans? How many of them, did we always hear were there to see or be seen. People like to be part of something, they like the fad, they love the event.
Lastly, there are those who just admire what the Habs have done. Being the underdog, winning against all odds is admirable. It’s hard not to at the very least salute that which they have accomplished. Add to that, the fact that many of the people who are now cheering for the Habs are younger than I, they were 6 or younger the last time there was a real Habs- Leafs rivalry. I have more hate for the Islanders and Canes then I do the Habs. Heck, do you remember those years in the late 80’s and 90’s vs the St. Louis Blue and the red wings????? I have deeper hatred for those teams then I do the habs.
So, am I cheering for the Habs? Not really. In the first round I wanted the Caps to win. In the second series, I must admit I cheered for the Penguins. Not because of hatred for the Habs, but due to the new found respect I have for Crosby. This round could be interesting. I despise the Flyers for the reasons I mentioned above. I have no real problem with the Bruins, save for the fact that they own our number one pick and their goalie could still be a Leaf if not for the moves of one JFJ. Does that mean I am cheering for the Habs? If it’s vs. the Flyers, you bet. If they play the Bruins, I really don’t care all that much.
While I recognize that the actions of a few shouldn’t effect the entire group, I’m having a hard time separating the idiots from Hab nation. When did become in style to light fires after a hockey game (win or lose)? When did smashing store windows and looting became the way we celebrate? We here in this town are far from perfect. I’ve done dumb things in my life- many that I’m not proud of. But- and I do mean but, what the hell were these idiots thinking????? When I say I understand “rioting” after a loss- I hope you understand what I mean by “understand”. I am not condoning it, but I get how people get out of hand when disappointed. I’ve never been so pissed after the team I cheer for loses a huge game or series that I wanted to rob a store or light a fire. I was at the game 7 when the Leafs lost to the Kings and I don’t recall torching anything. What I totally don’t understand or appreciate is how emotions run away to the destructive when your team WINS!!! I am so happy that I am going to vandalize!!! That I just don’t get. I’m not trying to judge, I’m just saying I don’t get it.
So, when I was asked today at my office why I thought people who otherwise wouldn’t be cheering for the Habs were suddenly doing so, my answer was simple; Why not the Habs?