The Habs: Turning the Page on 100 Years
The Habs’ recent playoff success has captivated the imagination of the entire province. Yet there is an interesting subtext in the current fervor towards the Montreal Canadiens. More than a few times, I saw younger fans being interviewed on TV wishing for their own heroes after hearing about the hockey heroes of time past. In the current salary-capped NHL, there is a high degree of parity in the league, evidenced by two teams ranked 18th and 19th overall facing off for the conferance final. The age of dynasties is over, and the nostalgia during the Canadiens Centennial celebrations seemed to weigh on the contemporary teams, expectations amplified by the Habs history. Now it seems more fans are ready to recognize the new NHL reality, and enjoying the Canadiens making it farther in the playoffs since they won the last cup, 17 years ago. A new generation of fans is hoping for a taste of what their parents often took for granted for many decades: A reduced gap between championships.
The party was shortlived as the Habs were trounced 6-0 in game one by the other “Cinderella” team these playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers. A tough, talented and hardworking team that made a historic comeback, unseen in 35 years, from a 0-3 deficit to win 4 straight to advance and face the Canadiens. They carried that momentum into game 1, and now looks like a formidable adversary, unlike what was described by some hockey analysts and overconfident fans.
I’ve heard some valid arguments against organized professional sports as “bread and circuses”, a distraction for the masses to keep attention away from the problems of society. Men with sticks getting paid millions for pushing a rubber disk around and the fanatics cheering them on. The enthusiasm is undeniable and contagious nonetheless. The Montreal Canadiens are an notable part of the culture of this city. A mere advancement to a quarter final caused celebrations rivaling other teams winning championships (see video below). What else can I say, but Go Habs Go!!