I am not a Ron MacLean fan by any stretch of the imagination but I liked when he used the phrase ‘fun police’ to describe what the team is trying to do to P.K. Subban by banning the triple low-five that he and Carey Price have been doing to celebrate wins over the past couple of seasons.
Just how wrong are the Habs in this case? All you need to know is that Don Cherry agrees with Michel Therrien’s decision to put the lid on Subban’s fun’n’games.
“I’ve known P.K. since he played for the Marlies and I told him – stop that silly stuff, the jumping around,” Cherry said on Coach’s Corner Saturday night. “Giving the high five and all that. Your own players will turn against you if you don’t stop it…..I tried to tell him that a few years ago. The same as I did with Ovechkin. You can’t do that and expect the players to like you.”
Well at least you have to admit Cherry is consistent. He’s been complaining about over-zealous celebrating for years. Though can I just point out the blatant hypocrisy of this coming from Dandy Man himself – here’s a guy who dresses up like an over-the-top Vegas showman telling young hockey players they have to stop showing personality.
But this is not about Cherry. I just bring Grapes into this to underline that if he and Habs management are on the same page, then the Habs bosses are on the wrong page.
The funny thing here is that there’s a whole new management/ownership team in place chez les Habs – from owner Geoff Molson to GM Marc Bergevin to coach Michel Therrien – but they’re following exactly the same philosophy that’s guided the Canadiens for a few decades now. The philosophy? No one is bigger than the team. You have personality? You’re a fan favourite? You’re a superstar? Well you’ll follow the system like the third-line grunts or you’re gone.
You need names? Chelios, Corson, Ribiero, a fellow named Patrick Roy. I mean the Roy debacle is the defining moment of the past quarter century of Habs history. One of the greatest goalies in the history of the game is publicly humiliated by a B-rate coach and the bosses side with the coach who, as we all knew, was going nowhere fast. I don’t need to remind you how that one turned out – Roy went on to win two more Cups with the Avs and the Habs went into a 20 year tailspin thanks to this near-Babe-Ruth-esque jinx.
For heaven’s sake, this is the team that destroyed Guy Lafleur’s career by trying to force him to play grinding, defensive hockey (thanks M. Lemaire!).
Okay fair enough, you’re saying, but we’re just talking about telling Subban and Price not to do low-fives and you’re right. But my fear is that the team is once again trying to reel Subban in. Before he returns, his teammates grumble openly to the media about him and then the first thing Therrien says is that P.K. has to learn the team philosophy before he returns to the ice.
I’m not the first to say it but it’s worth repeating – let P.K. be P.K. If you try to cage him, he’ll be a fraction of the player he could be. Let him do crazy stuff. Let him go and slam Monster Man John Scott into the boards. That was effin beautiful. This six-foot-eight/270-pound gorilla then slams his fist into P.K.’s face, P.K. shows brains by not swinging back, the Habs go on the power-play, Subban lets one rip from the blue-line, and David Desharnais knocks in the rebound. Then after the game, P.K. says he’s happy to get punched in the face for the team. He is a team player. But he’s also an incredibly exciting hockey player. The two things are not mutually exclusive. You’re not more of a team player just ’cause you’re boring. And by the way, you explain to me how Gorges, Markov and Eller bad-mouthing Subban is a good example of team spirit.
Here’s Saturday night’s Coach’s Corner:
And here’s what I’m talking about, Desharnais’s goal on that Subban rebound.