LEAFS VS HABS


I pray to Maurice
April 13, 2010, 6:19 PM
Filed under: Habs POV | Tags:

I was born in 1989, not the most prolific stretch of Habs hockey: the 60’s and 70’s seemed a long time ago, the 80’s were mostly frustrating, and a Stanley cup in ’86 didn’t ease nerves, the city wanted more.

April 4th was the day, the eve of what was expected to be a very exciting playoffs, a season where both the Habs and the Flames dominated the regular season and were destined for a date for the Stanley Cup. These were the days when players put up nearly 200 points a season, where superstars were protected by goons and refs, where expansion was only 21 teams and each one had an original feel. Hockey was apparently at its peak.

That year, the Habs lost in the Cup final to a team that was, well, destined for success. The Habs were hated by everyone, and still are. When the Flames won the Cup, coast to coast, across the border, and around the world, people celebrated.

I was brainwashed into being a Habs fan. My dad, who serves with our Navy, was and is a diehard Leaf, and one of my most vivid memories growing up was a picture on the wall when you walked into our old home with Felix Potvin, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk. When he went to sea in 1992, I was three going on four and my neighbours were the biggest Canadiens fans ever. When mom would go to work, they would babysit me and every day I would learn about them.

Dad wasn’t home until July 1993, at this point the Habs won the Cup and I was in love. When we went to greet him at the dock the first thing I said to my dad was “Look at this”. I opened my jacket to show him a shirt with the CH on the chest, red material and a big smile on my face.

I’m 21 now, and my dad hasn’t forgiven me since.

It’s the history is what makes being a Habs fan so special, from Newsy Lalonde and Joe Malone, through Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau, to Scott Gomez and Andrei Markov, it’s a team that is defined by its players: The ones with heart and the ones with rings, and the best example was Maurice Richard.

I loved him, I grew up wanting to be him, I wore the number 9 in all sports I played because he was my idol. The Rocket they called him: If you blinked, you’d miss a goal. His suspension caused riots, his skates would raise thousands to their feet, and his shot would bring cheers. He was the team, he was hockey, and he still is my idol.

Today, the said heart has missing for nearly two decades, and I’ve grown up to see the frustration, rue the what-ifs, and suffer from over-confidence and elevated expectations that the first hundred years put upon us. We had a few guys who left it all on the ice: Koivu, Recchi, Souray… And they all left us without a ring.

It seems rude and selfish to complain given what we’ve been blessed to have won, but watching highlights of the disappointment of 1989 reminds me that we’ve been in more painful situations, with teams with heart. 1993 was beautiful, but it never took my memory as a moment burned in my mind, and I was old enough to remember that.

On the brink of what seems to be yet another over-hyped, yet realistically hopeless playoff journey (Maybe), let’s not only observe the current state of the Habs, but the glorious past, and the uncertain future. It should be an interesting ride.

And maybe, just maybe, i’ll talk about Dad’s team.

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