Friday, September 29, 2017


I confess, I haven't watched too much of the Canadiens' dreadful 2017-18 pre-season. Over years of supporting this team, I've realized the games in September really don't reflect what will happen when October comes. Still, you have to think ZERO wins in the warm-up games can't be a good sign.

There are many reasons why Habs fans are going into the new year with trepidation. The loss of Andrei Markov who, even in his late thirties, played a ton of solid minutes on the back end last year will impact the stability of the blueline. Paying top dollar and term for Carey Price while doing little to shore up last year's struggling offence (Jonathan Drouin can't do everything) puts the team a knee injury away from disaster. The prospects are obviously not a match for those of other teams in the Northeast division. Victor Mete aside, it's hard to imagine most of them making the NHL any time soon.

Those are some stark facts which most of us recognize and we're skeptical going into the season because of them. Most of us.

I have a friend, however, who's one of the most loyal Canadiens followers I've ever met. I mean, this is a serious fan. She grew up in the '70s in Massachusetts and wore a Habs sweater to the Boston Garden, which was a life-threatening move at the time. She's attended the Canadiens fantasy camp more than once. She has cats named for members of the 1950s Punch Line. She's been known to stalk Jacques Lemaire.

When myself and my cynical fellow fans watch games, we start to get sarcastic around the time the second PP of the game shoots blanks. By the time the team is getting shut out by the Hurricanes, we're angry at management, the inept forwards and the universe. Not my friend.

The Canadiens might be down 3-0 with a minute to go, and she's reminding us Bill Mosienko scored a hat trick in 21 seconds, and Jean Beliveau did it in 44. If they're down by three with twenty seconds to go, she reminds us records are made to be broken. She tells us Karma will save the day.

The only problem is, I don't think Karma is as good a friend as she does. One definition of it is: "The spiritual principal of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of  that individual (effect.)" In other words, if you do good things, good things will come back to you. Likewise, if bad things (like the other team scoring on an iffy penalty call) happen to you, good things will come to offset the bad.

That's a great theory for the hopeful among us. However, Karma isn't an in-game phenomenon. She has a long-term memory and she owes Canadiens fans a lot of payback. 

Once upon a time, the Habs were members of a six-team league, blessed with a copious number of talented players right in their own back yard who all dreamed of playing in Montreal. The set-up brought five Cups in a row in the '50s and more in the '60s. Even after expansion the Habs had the best GM in the business in Sam Pollock. Pollock maneuvered the 1971 draft to land Guy Lafleur with the first pick. He regularly traded chaff for wheat, to the detriment of those who dealt with him. As a result, the Canadiens won a ton of Stanley Cups and fans did a lot of rubbing it in. 

Now here we are with a dubiously-skilled GM in Marc Bergevin, with 2012 first-round pick Alex Galchenyuk, the most recent top draft choice to make the NHL, on the third line with trade rumours troubling him. The team is 25 seasons out from its last Stanley Cup and doesn't look much like a contender this year. Some might say, Karma is balancing the scales for decades of triumph with the drought we're in now. leafs fans are laughing at us. 

I admire my friend for never giving up on the Canadiens, no matter what. She truly believes Karma will help them pull off the last-second OT goal or defend a precarious lead under pressure. I feel for the fans who are as optimistic as she is. Thanks to her, I believe in Karma too.

Only thing is, I believe Karma is a bitch.

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