Ugh. It won't die. I watched some of the All-Star festivities last weekend, and my fondly-held fantasy that not one single reporter would bring up the Vinny-to-Montreal rumours, predictably, failed to come true. No, it didn't take Nostradamus to predict that Vincent Lecavalier would arrive in Montreal to the fanfare of a returning hero. My question is, what, beyond an accident of birth, did he ever do to warrant that? Sure, he's a good hockey player. So are Milan Hejduk and Shane Doan, but they didn't have fans falling at their feet in ecstasy. Admittedly, he's a native son. So are Martin St.Louis and Roberto Luongo, but nobody was shrieking their names to the exclusion of other sound at the Bell Centre.
As a Habs' fan, I was pleased to see what a lovely job Montreal did in hosting the ceremonies and the game. But I thought the city's hockey faithful fawning over Lecavalier, I assume in some unjustified attempt to convince him to come to play in Montreal, was both embarrassing and futile. First, there's no indication from Bob Gainey that he wants to acquire Lecavalier's crippling contract, in addition to the hefty chunk of the Canadiens' present and future he'd have to give away in exchange. Second, there's no indication Lecavalier wants to play in Montreal at all.
I know he said all the right words, and was gracious to a fault when answering the "What do you think of the rumours?" question in all its repetitive and thinly-veiled incarnations. But body language counts for something too. And when he was introduced on skills night to louder cheers than even Alex Kovalev or Carey Price, Lecavalier looked pained. He looked like a guy who wished he could just melt into the background, and that his name was Vince Calvillo. The stiff smile, bowed head, reluctant wave and sliding glance all spoke of a guy who's just...well...not that into playing in Montreal or the adoration that comes with it.
And, like a guy who keeps sending flowers and calling even when the girl he's chasing has tried to be nice about not wanting to date him, the fans keep humiliating themselves by showing their love for a player who doesn't want it.
So, for the sake of unrequited lovers everywhere, let him go, Montreal. I know many of you crave a native son to lead the Habs, regardless of salary, term or cost to the future. But he doesn't love you back. And even the fairy tales say you can't buy love or force it. Trying to do so makes hockey fans look desperate, and the Habs aren't a desperate team.