Oh Montreal. Don't ever change.
Lost in all the hubbub yesterday over the protests and coverage of Bruce Boudreau's "outburst" was that it seemed as if no one in the mainstream press had the chutzpah to call out these protesting fans for being, well, fans. Why is it so hard for people to bring this up? Are we so afraid of criticizing “the little guy” that we won’t call a duck a duck, (or any other idiom you want to use there instead)?
Fans always have an agenda. If Sidney Crosby had run into David Steckel at the Winter Classic, we’d all be calling for his head. If Sergei Gonchar had taken out Alex Ovechkin's knee, we’d want him drawn and quartered and never allowed to play in the NHL again, and so on and so forth. We see what we want to see, because our vision is colored by what team we cheer for. The other guys are bad, and our guys are good. It’s the very nature of sports. If Crosby wore 87 for the Caps, we’d all love him. If Ovechkin wore 8 for Pittsburgh, we’d all hate him. We see what we want to see.
We act like these people in Montreal have some sort of veneer of integrity, and we should all pay attention because they’re finally standing up to the violence in the game, when all they’re proving themselves to be is a bunch of entitled clowns who take themselves so seriously that they flooded the local authorities with messages to demand Chara be prosecuted for the incident, which is patently absurd.
We need to stop acting like these fans don’t have an agenda. Of course they do...they’re FANS, and moreover, Montreal fans. As Boudreau said yesterday, if it had been Hal Gill on David Krejci, there would be no protest, and I think he’s completely right. Is it possible that the fans in Montreal grew a conscience overnight and now have become crusaders of anti-violence in a violent sport? Absolutely. But it looks awful phony to me when incident after incident after incident happens, and now you decide to throw a hissy fit when one of your own guys gets tweaked. That, to me, screams phoniness. As my dad would say, “son, that dog just ain’t gonna hunt”.
The Chara incident was absolutely brutal, and something I hope I never have to see on a hockey rink again. But again, we’re all participants in a sport that is inherently violent. It was born on the frontier, and it’s always had a hard, brutal edge. There will be many times when people step over that edge. And this is what we’ve signed up for as hockey fans, because we love the game. No one forced you to become a fan, and while we’re all sorry that your guy got hit, being sanctimonious enough to demand that everything suddenly change only when the violence affects your team is pretty wrong as well, and does a disservice to everyone who truly wants to enact meaningful change in hockey.