Friday, July 31, 2009

Habs Hating:

Mocking The Canadiens In Vogue Again

When new items and pieces on the shelf converge. That's what happened this morning in my Google Reader.

Pulled in through the Carey price tag, I got this article from a Boston man, who claims to be a Montrealophile in all but hockey.

It synced very nicely with an idea I've been kicking around for some time about how fans of other teams see us. And how many of them loathe us. And, actually, I came across one of the very best examples of this just the other day on a typical July trawl through NHL searches.

James Murphy – the "laughingstock" file

When it comes to Habs hating and baiting it is unsurprising to start our survey in Boston. Boston and Montreal have a deep-seated hatred of one another's hockey teams – one which I fully subscribe to.

That said, Mr. Murphy is using cheap tricks here. Calling the Canadiens a laughing stock in Boston is not new and it's certainly not news. The Canadiens are a laughing stock in those parts 3 days after an unprecedented comeback in the playoffs against the tilt of the home ice.

And, I suspect if he were only writing for Boston he would have found another story. However, I think James picked up on something of a trend. The trend being that people outside of Boston are becoming more and more keen to read and write themselves about the laughable situation in Montreal. His piece is symptomatic of the trend and not causative, however.

The Cynical Anaesthesiologist and the eloquent – the evolution of distaste

Back in 2007, the Four Habs Fans were drumming up some controversy and interest with back and forth volleys between themselves and rival bloggers. It was good fun. The Habs hate was written up, but in retrospect, a bit ad hoc – not very sophisticated. A lot of the ideas were old and many just misunderstandings. You could almost tell the Blueshirt Bulletin, for example, did not have their hearts behind their disdain.

But you know what, it seems 3 years of endless ceremonies, a winning and losing ride complete with bandwagon couplings and unhitching, a riot for riot's sake and some scandal dusted on top have fed some fuel to the real fire.

More recently, there are people who care enough about hating the Canadiens to sit down and take some time to flesh it out, to express what they mean. And though it might be more convincing if this MD didn't also hate everything else, he still provides a nice vignette of what I mean:
"Every year I live in dread of another Stanley Cup for Montreal (which has happened 12 times in my life). My obsession is deep seated."

It got even better this season with "No Habs No" adding a very humourous and more sophisticated take on hating the Habs in the internet age. It even has its own (very well supported) 6-man Facebok group. For me, however, it all culminated in the brilliant eulogy written to the Canadiens season by the Pension Plan Puppets – experts in seasons like these.

I don't want to dissect arguments or question why people are supporting teams 30 years after their brother told them to, all I wanted to do was show how Habs hating has come a long way. As James Murphy suggests, there are echoes of George W. Bush in this affair. Habs hating is very much in vogue.

Understanding the hatred

I may have trouble pinpointing how this trend I feel around me has come about, I have no trouble understanding how an opposing supporter would hate me or my team. I am interested from a purely academic curiosity as to why it seems to be mounting. I suspect it has a lot to do with us not being a write-off anymore. There's certainly that annoying arrogance we all get tagged with thanks to the amassing of a more connected and active "24 Cup brigade" – they say as much. The seemingly endless 100th anniversary (built up since season 97) is some bait, no doubt.

As I mentioned I really only "hate" one team in this NHL and that is the Bruins. I hate their players, I hate their philosophy to team building. The Leafs have been there too, but nowadays I find it hard to muster the strength to really hate them. Everyone else just fits somewhere else on the spectrum of dislike. Philly somewhere near the head of the list and Edmonton somewhere near the "almost like" extreme.

If you're not hated by other teams fans, your team's doing something wrong

I think that conventional wisdom holds for us here in a big way, and my own targets for negative energy are telling. If people are indifferent towards your team (like they are to the Kings, say, or the Thrashers) then it's because they're not doing enough to be hated. In sports, that means you really do suck.

It's a relief then to think that the Canadiens and us fans are generating more hate nowadays among our rivals. After all, think of the alternative, we could be the Sabres...

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