Let’s get to the point here. The Montreal Canadiens made the finals. Good for them. They are a solid, defensively sound team (which a lot of us expected) and Carey Price has recaptured the form that once made him the best goalie in the world (which I did not expect, but only feared as one would a shadowy monster from local folklore.) They may well win the Stanley Cup as a heartwarming underdog story. Should they win, their fans will get lit on Labatt 50s and have a parade/riot. That’s cool. Stay socially distanced out there, kids.
Every time a Canadian team does something other than fling its own poop against a wall, which is not really all that often this century, some lukewarm souls will suggest that it is important that we all rally behind them, as they are now Canada’s Team. Now, to be clear, if you find the Habs appealing or admire their grit and tenacity, that is your prerogative. The heart wants what it wants. You do you.
But as a public service announcement: the concept of a sports rivalry is that two teams want to beat each other. Half the point of sports is to get to feel a group identity where they compete with other groups, but in a relatively safe way, since that instinct tends to be a problem in real life. I get to wish unlimited failure on the Habs, and nothing all that bad happens, other than I’m usually disappointed. That’s not an accident or an ugly by-product. That’s a feature, baby!
Speaking from experience, we’ve had a lot of comments from Habs fans in the last few weeks who were transparently here to laugh at our suffering. They talked trash about our overpaid stars, we told them to jump in the St. Lawrence, and much merriment was had by all. That is how it is and has always been, and that is fine.
Of course I don’t want the fucking Habs to win the Cup! Do you think if the Leafs ever make the finals (lol) the guy on L’ile Montreal who has Guy LaFleur’s portrait tattooed on his buttocks is going to wish in his prayers que les Maple Leafs du Toronto va gagner le Coupe Stanley? No, he’s going to hope they trip over their skate laces and own goal themselves into oblivion. Granted he’s got a good chance of seeing his prayers answered given how the Leafs operate, but the instinct is the same on both sides. I don’t think the Habs even want a bunch of Leaf fans cheering for them. Why would they? They hate us every other month of every other year, they ain’t inviting us to the barbecue to watch G1. They’re enjoying a very special combined schadenfreude and success right now.
The idea that Leaf fans ought to root for the Habs for some bizarre moral reason is part of the same scolding that’s infected the whole Internet. Cheering for Montreal is antithetical to the whole reason plenty of us watch sports. They’ve played well and have earned their spot in the finals, and I respect that, and I hope they totally fucking blow it. That is as it should be. So have fun out there, Habs, I wish you the worst, and if you win I’ll say it was an asterisk season anyway. I know you’d do the same for us.