Fans of the Montreal Canadiens are in disbelief of the fortunes of their team. But they should have seen it coming. The Habs started this season flying and it looked liked they are going to end Canada’s 23-year Stanley Cup drought. Then their star goaltender got hurt, their forwards had trouble scoring, and things went downhill from there. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because that is what the 2011-2012 Toronto Maple Leafs went through.
The Habs are this season’s version of the 18-wheeler driving off a cliff. Those were Brian Burke’s memorable words when, as the Maple Leafs General Manager, his team had a playoff spot in their hip pocket only to go into a tailspin and ended up missing the playoffs yet again. It is not hard to make the comparison. Both teams had hot starts to the season, coasted midway through, then starting getting mired in injuries and inconsistencies. Finally, a string of losses that resulted in falling out of a playoff spot.
A collapse like this would bring out the calls for the head coach to be fired and some top-end players to be traded. But GM Marc Bergevin took the high road and didn’t throw anyone under the bus. He said: “It’s on me.” My good friend Frank is a die-hard Habs fan and loves nothing more than to see the buds mire in mediocrity. But one day he took to social media to proclaim that the Canadiens’ are no different than that of Maple Leafs teams that he and others have been ridiculing for years. That takes a lot of guts for him to admit it, unlike his comrades in red who continue to want to put the blame on Gary Bettman or find other excuses for the Canadiens’ choke job.
I have been trying to avoid piling on the Habs. But it is hard not to recognize the downfall they have been experiencing of late. I can’t shed a tear for people who believe that the colour or the logo on the front of the jersey outweighs a player’s heart. That’s what Habs fans have been blindly buying in for the last 3 decades and they are still sold on that theory today. And they call us Leafs fans delusional. Please.
There is still time left for the Canadiens to get their act together. But since the same people gave the Leafs little hope of making the playoffs then, I wouldn’t hold my breath that the Canadiens will defy the odds this season. Perhaps if they call up All-Star MVP John Scott…