The timing couldn’t be better for the Habs spring

Posted: May 15, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

P.K. Subban 1

Montreal actor Anthony Lemke sent me an interesting question earlier today on Twitter: “Are the Habs uniting a city licking its wounds from recent identity politics battles? Feels bigger than hockey this time.

Lemke – who you might’ve seen in that CBC adaptation of Louise Penny’s Still Life last year – is right on the money. A Habs Cup run is just what the doctor ordered for this depressed city of ours that’s been in a funk for the past couple of years. We’ve gone through a slew of mayors, there’s a neverending corruption inquiry that brings us down on a daily basis, and, maybe worst of all, there was the Charter of Values “debate”, a cynical witch-hunt that targeted minority groups and divided us in ways many of us thought could never happen ici.

So yeah we need something to celebrate and it’s only appropriate that it’s the Habs that are giving us the reason to party, as they prepare to face the New York Rangers in the conference final after dispatching the Big Bad Bruins Wednesday night. The last time the Canadiens made the conference final, in the spring of 2010, it was the Halak revolution and it provided a magic moment for our town.

I remember thinking at the time that the Habs now appealed to more Montrealers than ever before, that they were even more popular than in the ’70s when they were winning Cups nearly every year. And it cuts across all cultural, linguistic, ethnic lines. And the eclectic fan base is reflected in the team.

Back in the day, it was the Flying Frenchmen, with the Richards, Lafleurs, Lemaires. Now our two superstars are a guy whose grandfather immigrated from Jamaica to northern Ontario and another fellow who is part aboriginal and hails from the wilds of northern British Columbia. And unlike the knuckle-dragging fans in Boston, none of us are in the least upset that P.K. Subban has a cultural background different from most NHL players. We love him because he’s one of the most exciting defensemen to lace up since Bobby Orr.

So right now, we all just want to keep it going. There’s a new series starting Saturday afternoon and for the first time, we can start dreaming the dream. This does feel like ’93. We have a spectacular goalie, a great team that’s a real character team (and not built around one superstar), and a bit of luck on our side. And I’m not talking about all the goalposts Boston hit in the seven-game series. The lucky part was that the Bruins simply weren’t the A-list Bruins we’ve seen most nights over the past couple of years.

Monster Man Chara looked punch-drunk Wednesday, stumbling around the Garden ice, David Krejci had just an abysmal series (and an abysmal playoff), Brad ‘I don’t even like myself’ Marchand was great at spearing Habs after the whistle but a lot less great at scoring goals, and Little Baby Lucic could only manage one empty-net goal (and much chest-thumping). In the last two games, they simply couldn’t skate with the Canadiens.

But give credit where credit is due. This is not the 2010 Habs, a team carried by one goaltender in a zone. This is a character team. Dale ‘Gretzky’ Weise scores beautiful goals, hits hard and never stops working. Mike ‘Dream’ Weaver will do anything for his team, whether it’s blocking blistering shots or standing up to Chara (even if he’s eye level with the Monster Man’s navel). Alexei Emelin came of age in this series, laying on one crunching hit after another and driving Lucic ’round the bend (that alone gives him an A+ grade in my book). And what to say about P.K.? He’s my hero. He’s your hero. He lives for the dramatic moments. The OT winner. Leaping out of the penalty box to fly with the puck on a breakaway and then just undress Tuuka Rask.

So the Good Guys are in the Final Four and the Bad Bruins are on the golf course. There is a God after all.

One last thing. Milan Lucic is a bully. And a hypocrite, a guy who’s written a book for kids about the dangers of bullying. Twice in recent weeks he’s attacked player’s private parts with his stick – from behind. Now he’s allegedly threatening to kill people. He’s an embarrassment to the sport. Hell he’s even an embarrassment to the Boston Bruins – and that’s quite an achievement on a team of spearmen, water-squirters, divers, and whiners.

– Brendan Kelly

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