Thursday, September 23, 2010

Can You Boo The Canadiens and Still Call Yourself a Fan?

by Kamal Panesar

Montreal, QC - The topic of the day in Montreal and around the NHL today, is the booing that Habs' goaltender Carey Price received during the Canadiens preseason loss to the Boston Bruins last night.

I watched the game from the comfort of my living room couch, and was doing live in-game Tweets while all of this was going on. Once Price let in the first goal—93 seconds into the game—you could see a shift in the sentiments being expressed through the Twitterverse.

While a small minority jumped all over Price for letting in a bad goal, the majority started to wonder how long it would take before the real boo-birds came out.

More importantly, however, many came to Price's defense, explaining that it was only a preseason game and to give him a break.

That, to me, was a welcome sight.

I have to admit that even before turning on the television, I was wondering to myself how long it would take before the fans started booing Price.

After all, he is the one left standing after GM Pierre Gauthier traded playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to the Blues this summer. Sure, fans fell in love with Halak and many felt that Price should have been the one traded, but how is that, in any way, Price's fault?

As goal after goal went in on Price last night, you could feel the tentative crowd start to turn on the Habs young goalie.

It got to the point where there were even mock cheers when Price would make a routine stop.

So what does that say about the fans in this city? Are people who boo their own team really fans? Is it possible to be a fan of your team and still boo them?

In one sense, I imagine that you can be since the word fan comes from the root word fanatic.

Fanatics don't tend to be the most rational people on the planet.

But in the true sense of what it is to be a modern day fan of the Montreal Canadiens, shouldn't booing your team immediately disqualify you as a fan?

Booing players in Montreal is nothing new and if we look back over the last 20 odd years, we'll see that the hometown crowd has booed the likes of Patrice Brisebois, Vladimir Malakhov, and yes, even the great Patrick Roy.

Well, despite Habs fans rich history of berating their own players, I say that enough is enough.

I understand that people are passionate, and that we want for the Canadiens to win but booing players, regardless of how well or poorly they play, does not help.

If you are truly a fan of the team, you should want your team to win and be successful. If that is the case, then how can you boo?

Booing can in no way help Carey Price or make him a better goaltender. Nor will the boos bring back Halak or contribute, in any way, to the success of the team on or off the ice.

So how can people who boo the team call themselves fans then?

In my book, they can't. Sorry folks, but if you boo Price, boo the team for a bad performance, or in any other way contribute to the team having less success, you are not a fan.

Some may say that the opposing teams' fans boo the Habs. Yes, they do. But they are supposed to and the hometown boys can easily ignore that.

If you call yourself a Habs fan but choose to boo your team or its players you are actually worse than opposing team’s fans. By calling yourself a Canadiens fan, buying a ticket to a game, and then booing your team when you are supposed to be the wind in their sails, you are directly contributing to their downfall.

We have to remember that hockey players are human beings and being booed by the very people who are supposed to support you is without a doubt a painful experience.

If it happens once, the players can likely shrug it off. But when it is systematic—as it has become with Carey Price—the only effect it can have is to destroy the player’s confidence and make him scared to make a mistake.

Anyone who is anyone will tell you that you can't play the game scared and if you do, it is a recipe for disaster.

So I say enough. The booing has to stop.

Sure, as a paying customer you have the right to boo if you want. I will not dispute that fact. But this is not about rights but rather about doing what is right.

If you truly are a fan of the Canadiens and want this team to win, then stop booing, immediately, because you are just shooting yourself in the foot.

So is it any surprise then that free agents don't want to play in Montreal? Is it shocking that Habs fans are thought of, in many parts of the NHL community, to be terrible fans?

Sure, we're the loudest and most voracious fans when the team is winning, but we can turn into a dead weight around the Canadiens' waist when they are losing and that is not what a fan is supposed to do.

If you are a fan of this team and want them to win, then support them whether they are winning, losing, playing well, or playing bad.

I assure you that if you take this approach, it can only contribute to the success of this team on and off the ice.

As for Carey Price, I think my friend @kyleroussel—of Cowhide and Rubber—said it best when he tweeted "I've long said that many fans would rather have their Halak tears justified rather than see Price succeed."

Amen, brother!

Michael Cammalleri himself went so far as to say “That's our goaltender. It didn't go ideal for him, but nobody in this room was booing him. It you want to identify with this group, then get behind him. Because we are."

The line has been drawn, so make your choice people: Are you a true Habs fan or not?


This incessant booing of the Habs players has the stink of a separatist plot attempting to demoralize the (apparently) federalist-leaning Montreal Canadiens.

This way, by the time "they" build their new $43 billion arena in Quebec City (paid for mostly by Montrealers, no doubt) the results of "Les Nouveau Nordiques" languishing in last place won't look so bad when compared against the very dejected Habs.

Only one comment and we already have a separatist plot. Get a life and Go! Nordique Go!

Oh man, that's hilarious! I can only assume that the comment about the "seperatist plot" was meant as a joke and a sarcastic retort to what the PQ was saying last week.

If so....brilliantly hilarious. Bravo.

If not, then anonymous number 2 was right and you're way off base.

Thanks for the comments none the less, people!

I suppose we run the risk of angering a lot of people, but yeah, I have trouble calling booers "fans".

How can they be? Fans support the team and its players.

Is it stupidity or arrogance that drives the need to boo?

Stupid because they think the booing will affect some sort of change?

Arrogant bccause they believe it should affect some kind of change?

Maybe both.

It has to stop, but it won't. Every goal that Price surrenders will come with a smattering of boos. It's inevitable, and I don't know if, or when it will stop.

Will Jean Beliveau have to address the crowd and implore them to not boo the team? That would be an unprecedented and embarrassing achievement if it came to that.

A lot of people will simply chalk this up to passion. To me, the passion has evolved in to an unhealthy obsession with all things Canadiens. I touched on this in my last article...the perspctive has been lost. What was once a passionate passtime is now an morbid obsession. For some, it's also morphed in to a sick psychosis. It's too much, and this extreme behaviour is one of the byproducts.

Let's just kill the boo birds. Less hassle more fun, more availabl tickets for the rest of us!

Wow, Kyle. You nailed it!

"To me, the passion has evolved in to an unhealthy obsession with all things Canadiens."

Well said.

There is a generation of Habs fans who have never seen them win anything and have never seen much more than mediocrity. However, they have all heard the stories about the glory years.

As such, there is a disconnect between what they are experiencing and what they feel they SHOULD be experiencing.

From that seems to stem a lot of anger and frustration.

Hey, I understand that as I too feel very frusterated with this organization and the on-ice product.

That being said, and to your point, booing does not make that better.

Sure it expresses discontent but, if as a fan, you wish is to see the team do better, than how can booing in any way be justified?

Booing does not and cannot make your team play better. It can only make them worse. Period.

There is no two ways about it and until people realize that, I too fear that the boos will continue.

Maybe this organization needs a Bob Gainey type to stand up to the booers again. It worked for Brisebois!

Thanks for you comment, Kyle!

I'll repeat what I said on the FB page: we need to pull together and realize Price is our goalie...time to support our team. We're known for being awesome fans here - let's show the world what supportive means. I'm proud to be a Habs fan - I'm proud whenever our opponents' fans mention our fierce loyalty being an unstoppable force. That loyalty cannot be fair-weather. We're Habs fans...or we're not. We might not like ALL the players but ya know..? I LOVE my team!

I wish Carey were in nets tonight - I'll be at the game, and I'd shut up anyone who booed him...

Thanks for the comment Lissa!

Hear, hear! Well said.

Habs fans are the best in the world when the team is winning. We need to now become the best in the world when the team is losing or not playing well, too.

If we can do that, then we can use the power of the crowd to help our boys when they are down.

If people are truly fans, shouldn't that be their goal?

You'll be at the game? Awesome! You're going to enjoy watching Eller. This kid is going to make everyone forget about Halak.

If you take any pics, please feel free to post them on the Habs Addict Facebook page!

Enjoy the game!

C'est absolument inacceptable d'entendre les huées au centre bell, dans un match hors-concours. Ça me renverse!

Ce qui me frustre, c'est que la plupart de ces "imbéciles", désolé mais je n'ai rien de plus poli, sont des "partisans" du Canadien qui sont toujours ceux qui connaissent le moins leur hockey. Des "partisans" à temps partiel qui ne comprennent rien à la "business" du hockey et qui chiale à chaque but sans rien comprendre du déroulement d'une partie.

Ces même "faux-partisans" écoute le match de hockey en se frustrant que le Canadien ne compte pas de but à tout moment. Jamais ils réfléchissent à la possibilité que le joueur de l'autre côté ait fait une belle job. C'est toujours de notre faute si l'on perd, comme si l'autre équipe n'essayait pas de gagner elle...

Je souhaite sincèrement que cette parodie ne nous fasse pas perdre l'un des gardiens les plus prometteur de la ligue. Ce serait une honte inadmissible que de voir notre fanatisme nous faire perdre un joueur de grand talent comme Price.

Merci Kamal d'avoir écrit sur le problème! Tellement de partisans pensent comme nous mais gardent ça pour eux. Enfin selon moi, non, ces gens là ne méritent pas le "titre" de partisan.:)

-Rémi de ZoneHabs

Salut Remi et merci pour la commentaire!

Je vas repondre en anglais car j'ecrit mieux en anglais q'en francais!

You hit the nail right on the head. Most of the booing "fans" are the same people who would be saying the Price is the best goalie in the world, if he turned things around.

Fair-weather fans. Part-timers. The ones who only like the team when they are winning, and who do nothing but rain misery on them when they are losing.

I think to be a real fan, you have to support you team even MORE when things are bad. That is what being a fan is about. It about trying to help your team with your support.

Hopefully this situation brings more focus on this topic and makes people think twice before booing.

I somehow think that won't happen, but we can always hope!

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