Monday, October 6, 2008

Fisher's vendetta

I wonder if there's anything more pathetic than an old man who spends his precious dwindling time adding kindling to the flickering flame of a grudge most others let burn out long ago? I caught up with my reading today, after having been away at the 'Dogs camp on the weekend. I usually read all the Habs-related coverage in the Gazette, including Red Fisher's Red Line, even when I don't necessarily agree with all he has to say. I respect the fact that Fisher has had a very long and distinguished career covering our great team and continues to write when most others have either retired or died. But his vendetta against Patrick Roy has got to end.

The headline on this week's Red Line, if you haven't read it already, is: "Schneider Made Right Decision When He Didn't Quit Canadiens After Fight With Roy." The column is about how much Fisher likes and respects Mathieu Schneider and is surprised the Penguins didn't snap him up off waivers because of their injuries on defence. But Fisher takes the opportunity afforded him in writing about Schneider to recount a dressing room incident from the early nineties, in which Roy and Schneider nearly came to blows. Predictably, Fisher as relates it, Roy started the whole thing and Schneider had to be talked (by Fisher, the article implies) into staying with the team and bearing with the arrogant goalie's behaviour.

Okay, Red, we get it.

He dislikes Patrick Roy intensely. He may even hate the man. But guess what? A lot of us don't. Some of us see this week's column as yet another small-minded attempt to discredit a guy with whom Fisher's got a problem. Frankly, I'm sick of it. I'm tired of reading the same rehashed column about Roy and how he "quit" on the team every time he's honoured. Literally, the same article. I swear it's just stored in his hard-drive and hauled out whenever Roy needs to be brought down a peg. Fisher wrote it when Roy was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and printed it again when the Habs announced number thirty-three would be retired. Yet, Fisher then attended the official announcement of the jersey retirement, only to sit there and stare at Roy rather than ask a question when he was called upon. How miserable is that? If Red hates Roy as much as he writes that he does, why would he bother to show up at the announcement at all? The very smallness of attending that event for no other reason than to show Patrick Roy his disdain for him does little but discredit Fisher himself.

In this week's story about Schneider's intent to walk away from the Canadiens after a fight with Roy, Fisher fails to condemn Schneider for threatening to quit on the team. That's the very fault he cites to justify his utter condemnation of Roy's legacy in Montreal...yet he mildly prefaces the Schneider story with a fond, "I like Schneider. Always have..." So, apparently, if Red Fisher likes you, he sees little problem with your "quitting" on the team. If he doesn't, then readers have to be subjected to story after story about your failure as a human being for years.

The obvious answer is, well, don't read it. But the problem I have is that I do often enjoy Red Fisher's reminiscences, especially about the great Habs who have passed away, and whose memories have so few witnesses remaining. He's a link to the team's past.

But that link has its pitfalls. When Fisher is living in the past, he continues to dwell on crimes that have long been forgiven by others. If the Montreal Canadiens have grace and class enough to welcome Patrick Roy back to the fold, and Roy has class enough to return, then Red Fisher does himself and his readers a disservice by feeding the feeble fire of his petty vendetta.

It's time to write about something new, and let the ghosts rest. After all, when you're pushing ninety, it might be time to devote some time to wondering how people will remember you. And I'm betting no one wants the words "bitter," "petty," and "small-minded" to figure in the stories that are written when they're gone.


Number31 said...

Good post. Couldn't have said it better myself. I think a lot of Habs fans need to just forgive and move on. Frankly I'm happy Gillett's organization with Gainey and company are taking that step to retiring Roy's number and welcoming him back to the family. Of course as a born fan of the team, I was just as disappointed when Roy left but equally I felt that Roy, despite his ego and aggressive behavior, was also abandoned upon. It's time to move on, and that goes double for Red...

Dishonest John said...

Ouch. That pretty much covers it eh? I haven't read or enjoyed much from Fisher for a long time. He always seemed to be unimpressed with the team's effort and it got old really quick. I think those glasses aren't just rose coloured but a little foggy too.
Dishonest John

24 Cups said...

Roy quiting on the team is a valid point by Fisher. However, the guilt has to be shared by Roy, Tremblay, Houle, and Gillett. There were other options and alternatives besides a trade (especially one that threw in our captain as well!). A compromise could have been reached. Roy's playing record dictates that he should have his number retired - hold your nose if you must, but that is the reality of the situation. I'm sure that's the conclusion that Bob Gainey came to in the end.

As for Fisher, I think his "vendetta" may be a reflection of his age. He comes from the glory days of the Habs, when values and perspectives were quite different. As well, one's viewpoints tend to become more rigid as people age. Fisher is in his 80's now and is not about to change. Just like Roy, I don't feel we should judge him solely on one situation or opinion.

24 Cups

J.T. said...

@24 Cups...I'll grant you the blame for Roy's departure should be doled out among several participants in the whole debacle. But Gillett's not one of them. It happened before he bought the team.

24 Cups said...

J.T. - Brain cramp - how could I forget Ronald Corey! I remember Tremblay turning around and getting a huge hug from Corey (from his seat behind the players' bench) after the Habs won their first game under Mario's coaching stint. I knew right then, that we were in big trouble.