There has been much joy and mirth not only in these virtual parts but also elsewhere in the Barilkosphere of late. Brian Burke’s succesful efforts to assemble a Brobdingnagian blueline and to complement it with a Colossus in the crease have been largely responsible for the festive atmosphere in Leafdom.
But it has to be said that it is not just the Leafs’ good fortunes that have sparked the positive mojo; also playing a role in Leaf fans’ gleeful anticipation of the coming season are the disasters-in-waiting being presided over by Messrs. Murray and Gainey in Ottawa and Montreal respectively. It cannot be denied that a healthy dose of schadenfreude in relation to our divisional rivals’ struggles is spicing the Blue and White soup of excitement just so, turning this particular dish into a gourmet delicacy upon which the faithful are gratefully gorging themselves.
I can’t help but think that we owe our friends in Montreal and Ottawa a debt of gratitude for the enjoyment we’ve received from this most delicious and nourishing meal (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this). Accordingly, I have a proposal, set out in more detail at the end of this post, for a way in which we might show our appreciation for our rivals’ hospitality.
But first, a little refresher on the facts.
The Senators contributed the first ingredient or two to our delicious repast, first with Dany Heatley’s ridiculous team-chemistry destroying trade demand (followed up expertly by his refusal to waive his no-trade clause upon the conclusion of a trade agreement with Edmonton). Next came that delightfully flavourful moment at the draft, thankfully captured for posterity by TSN cameras and microphones, during which our angry Irish overlord produced, with the unwitting assistance of the beleagured Murray, the most astonishingly public gobsmacking in recorded history. Just a few days ago, Murray put the cherry on top of his part of this concoction, signing the chronically apathetic Alexei Kovalev to a contract so unbelievably lucrative that I originally assumed that the financial figures must have been reported for some reason in pesos.
These events, though, have in truth paled in significance when compared to the struggles of one Robert “Bob” Gainey, the manager of generalities in Montreal. On the heels of the “centennial” season that wasn’t, the laughable drive for 25 that ended up as a bug to the Bruins’ windshield and widespread public dissatisfaction with the Habs players (I’m looking at you, Carey Price) and management, Gainey gave Leaf fans another gift or two. In the early hours of free agency, Leafs fans were like disappointed children on Christmas morning (having opened a box containing Colton Orr when the Sedins had been expressly requisitioned of Santa Claus) but Gainey gave us something to focus on and deride: his trade for the enormous contract of a tiny underachieving centreman: Scott Gomez. The trade made no sense, even to Leaf fans, who are especially adept at attempting to piece together the demented and alleged logic underpinning the roster moves of our own organization; why would the Habs take on a massive salary, give up their best young prospect and get back so (literally) little player for their troubles? Just as the startled laughter began to fade over this move, along came the punch line: Gainey apparently designed and built a nuclear powered money-throwing machine that he immediately deployed to assist him in propelling currency at both Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, which currency the two gnome-like wingers quickly stuffed into their tiny pockets.
Then the Fun Train really got chugging along as the Leafs signed Mike Komisarek – a big part of the physical presence on the Montreal blueline – and Gainey fired his riposte, an overpayment for defenceman Jaroslav Spacek to the tune of $11.25 million. It was as if the spirit of a drunken, brain-injured John Ferguson Jr. had inhabited Gainey’s body, and (predictably) had begun rampaging through the Habs’ organization like the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, with nary a Ghostbuster in sight. Fans of the Blue and White couldn’t get enough of this poltergeist’s mischievous destruction.
Leaf fans have been wiping away tears of laughter ever since. Sure, Mike Cammalleri is a talented player, and the Leafs even wanted to sign him up to the hometown squad, but Mike Cammalleri is no Steve Austin; he just isn’t a Six Million Dollar Man. Gionta and Gomez were/are also vastly overpaid, but more amusingly – I don’t know if you’ve noticed this – they’re all rather diminutive. It occurred to Leaf Nation – and approximately 100% of the rest of humanity not pulling on the controls of the Hab machinery – that this might not be the best plan ever concocted for success in the National Hockey League.
Gentle reader, it’s a known fact that people can be cruel about such things. I am saddened to report that some among the Leaf fans gathered at Pension Plan Puppets even succumbed to their lesser nature and fashioned a jest or two thousand premised upon the central organizing conceit that Montreal Canadiens forwards, this coming season, might be somewhat smaller than average. I have even heard the occasional jape fashioned around the notion that Alexei Kovalev might not exhibit the sort of leadership that even, say for example, a fourth grade hall monitor might. Shocking and misguided, I know.
Watching the whole series of events unfold in the Twitterverse, I’ve started to get the feeling that Habs fans were feeling a little down about the whole thing (side note: is there a collective term for Canadiens fans? Is there a “Habs Nation” or are we just sticking with “that bunch of fickle pricks chanting `na na na na’ and singing fucking soccer songs”? Yeah, I thought so.) I started to wonder whether, in the spirit of good karma, we Leaf fans ought not to pitch in to cheer the fuckers up. I got to thinking about the many ways that the Leafs’ free agent signings had improved the general welfare of the universe and it occurred to me that there MUST be something positive, from a wider societal perspective, to say about the Montreal transactions (we know they’re no damn good in terms of improving their chances of winning hockey games, that’s for sure).
As for Senators fans, well they’re a bit different. The thing about the Sens fans is, bless their little hearts, they don’t understand how totally screwed their team is. They have, to put it mildly, a problem. I have a suggestion about how to help fix that for them (watch this space in the coming days), but – for now – the immediate concern is our depressed friends in the bleu, blanc et rouge chandails.
So here’s my proposal.
To thank the Montreal Canadiens and their fans for the part they played in cheering us Leaf fans up, I propose that we come up with a series of 100 simple statements (one for each year in this, the REAL centennial) about the state of the Canadiens’ franchise along the lines of a positive affirmation for our friends. Each statement should delineate some beneficial feature of the Habs’ present predicament that represents a silver lining in the storm clouds gathering over the Bell Centre, along the lines of the model set out below. Let’s collect a hundred such statements (remember, it’s their centennial), package them up with a nice bow, and send them off to our friends at Habs Eyes on the Prize with our compliments; after all, they’ve been so supportive of us during the last few difficult years, I truly feel this is the absolute least we can do.
Here’s my first contribution to Project “C’est Something Nice!”:
In the future, the Montreal Canadiens will be leaders in the field of hockey equipment innovation and research: the Buster Brown shoe company, for example, will be retained to design and manufacture special “right-sized” skates for the Habs’ forwards.
Feel free to leave your own efforts in the comments below. Let’s make this happen, Leaf fans – I know you have this kind of compassion in your souls.
Update, Thursday July 9 8:30 p.m.: Well, folks, we’ve only managed to gather together an even dozen zingers so far. Quite frankly, that’s a Kovalev-ian effort, dammit. We are far, far…erm….”short” of our goal of a century of zingers soothing mottos to package up for the burning cop car/broken windows at the depanneur set. I know there are some of you who have more love to give. Maybe you’re uncertain whether your first attempt at soothing the Gallic pain will hit the mark; no problem, leave a couple of attempts in the comments below. Let’s work this bee-yatch up, yo.
My second contribution to the project:
Corporate cash cow: sales of official Montreal Canadiens “game-used booster chairs” expected to skyrocket in 2009 – 2010 season.