A couple of weeks ago, the peerless Down Goes Brown put together a brilliant psychoanalysis of the Leafs nation. Of course, you must read it for yourselves as his humour goes well beyond the group titles. In his analysis of the group he managed to reduce all Leafs fans into ten categories:
1. Mr. Mood Swing
2. The Self Loather
3. “Truculence” Guy
4. “Just One Cup” Guy
5. “Just One Cup” Guy who’s getting older
6. The Youngster
7. Bandwagon Jumper
8. The Fixer
9. The Delusional Idiot
10. The Realist
Reading the piece made me reflect on our own group in Habs fandom. At first glance, one could almost apply the identical groups to the Canadiens support. A closer look, and actually one can see they have to be different.
Take “Mr. Mood Swing”. Yes it’s a descriptor of Canadiens fans. But since I don’t know a Habs fan who doesn’t suffer from uncontrollable mood swings, I take this characteristic to be fundamental to the make-up of a Canadiens fan. Ditto, the Fixer, as we all (even those who sign "In Bob We Trust") ultimately know more than any given GM.
Go beyond those and you can see that others don’t apply at all – the “Just One Cup” group, for example would be mocked right out of the province by all those who continuously believe the next decade will bear much fruit.
So, as a service to all Habs fans, I’ve done my own dissection and applied it to the fans of Canada’s favourite team.
1. The Bandwagon Jumper
Foremost in the Canadiens community due to their sheer number. You know these people, they’re on your trains, and buses, they’re in your workplaces. Every time the Canadiens grab a first period lead, they help the number of fans swell by great swathes. A win is enough to double numbers in my experience and a streak pushes every Quebecer without a lingering obsession for the Avalanche to chant “Ole Ole Ole”. Studies have also shown this bandwagon can reach beyond provincial boundaries, and the evidence shows that a mere 0.500 record over 26 games is enough to loose the bandwagon across the whole country.
1. b) The Paddywagon Jumper
A sub-group of the Bandwagon Jumpers. These most famous of Canadiens fans bypass the bandwagon and wait by police vehicles (preferably paddywagons) until the ultimate last minute. They have no need for the highs and lows of actual game results, as it only delays their higher purpose. They keep themselves occupied in the regular season by practicing vandalism and arson during HNIC broadcasts.
2. The Dynasty fan
This is a special breed of fan that not only looks down on Leafs fans, Canucks fans and other fans, but also on Patrick Roy, Mats Naslund and anything else that came after the great schism in time that was the hiring of Irving Grundman. You won’t find many on the internet, though as they spend most of their days reading newspapers from the 1950s and/or current day Red Fisher columns.
3. The “Just A Few More Dynasties” fan
Unlike the Leafs, we don’t quite yet have anyone looking at the reality of the NHL, doing the math and coming up with the idea that for a team with all the complications (and poor management decisions) of the Canadiens that 1 Cup in a lifetime would be a decent return. Instead, fans look for a return to dynastic status and will be mostly satisfied if they get in another 2 or 3 decades worth of Stanley Cup finals from now till their end of days.
4. The 24 Cup Hugger
Every sign off, username and licence plate this guy owns has something to do with the number 24. Opposition fans cannot argue with “24” because once they make a point that requires a defence, he’ll hold his hand up and reel off “24 Cups” as the answer to the next 67 pleas. They would have done anything to remember any of the 24 Cups they vaunt daily, but have to do their best with the Canadiens greatest game box-set they have been watching nightly since its release.
5. The “Pur Laine” fan
Mostly restricted to a militant arm of RDS, this small group of fans doesn’t even like hockey. The Centre Molson is a place where they can gather with those in their clan, boo anthems and chant for their greats like Richard, Lafleur and Ribeiro.
6. The #1 Fan
Isn’t in elementary school anymore, yet inexplicably has Canadiens bed sheets, wallpaper and mouse pad. Spends so much time telling everyone he’s the #1 fan that he missed Alex Henry’s NHL career.
7. The “Real” Fan
These fans found that in the late 1990s one could turn up to a game 5 minutes before and buy a ticket from a scalper for less than face value. They want the return of these “good” old days where an emptying of the bandwagon means they can scavenge all the Molson Zone beer tickets.
8. The Goalie Worshipper
The Canadiens have indeed been blessed with a run of good goalies over the century. This is not a fact that has gone unnoticed by these fans. They even managed to beatify a goaltender. Everything that goes well turns on the axis of goaltending. Nothing that goes wrong can stick to the goalie. To these fans, defencemen are sub-human, only made necessary by the need to test the goalie with screen shots.
9. The Gentleman (The Lady)
The holdover from a bygone era. The gentleman (lady) still goes to all Canadiens games throughout the year dressed in their Sunday best. They know when to cheer for a goal and a save and know when to remove their hats. Watching a Canadiens game with one of these fans is a pleasure, because they have somehow maintained the love of the team without developing the snobbery of some of their contemporaries or the delusions of their successors.
10. The Almost Reasonable Fanatic
Loosely based on the “Realists” of Toronto. Thanks to 1971, 1986 and 1993, people in Montreal, however, can’t seem to take that final step to realism – they always hold onto a little of the fanaticism. Sure these fans will be telling the others to calm down after a 2-0 playoff series lead, but a big lead in the third game is usually enough for the feeling of destiny to wash over them.
Where do you fall? Maybe there's a category I've missed. There's only so much one can develop by dissecting his own psyche...