By JD Lagrange – The Canadiens played their last game of the season last night. It’s been a very difficult season and fans are frustrated. It’s a season that has cost Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins, Scott Mellanby and Dominique Ducharme their jobs. It’s a season that has seen veteran players like Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher, two key players for the Canadiens for several years, have their worst season in a long, long time. It’s been a season where the medical staff have had more work than any medical staff has ever had in the history of the NHL, with the Canadiens’ players missing over 700 man-games to injuries and COVID.
Last night, the Canadiens honoured Pierre Gervais, who has been the team’s equipment manager for 35 years. The team invited the first captain when Gervais started with the team, in Bob Gainey. They also invited the last captain in Gervais’ tenure, Shea Weber, to make his way onto the ice. What should have been a great evening, a tasteful ceremony, turned into a shameful display by some of the fans in attendance at the Bell Centre.
Who is Shea Weber
Stupid question, right? Who doesn’t know who Weber is and what he represents league-wide? Weber is one of the most respected players in the entire NHL. He’s one of the greatest leaders in hockey. He’s one of the most feared, and one of the best defensemen of his generation.
But more than that, if you listen to players who know him, who really know him, he is an outstanding individuals you can meet. I wish I had time to gather some quotes about Weber from players and coaches around the league. But we know that it’s true, right?
Over 1,000 games in the NHL with 224 goals and 589 points, while being one of the most efficient shutdown defensemen in the league. Captain of the only two teams he’s played for. World Juniors’ gold medalist, two-times Olympic gold medalist, a gold and a silver at the World Championships and a gold at the World Cup of Hockey, representing Canada in each one. NHL Allstar seven times, he also won the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
Listening on television, it wasn’t clear if what we could hear were what I thought it was. But it was confirmed by people at the arena… a bunch of fans booed Weber! They did what?!? Yes, you could hear boo birds as Weber was introduced and walked onto the ice. I’m not kidding you.
Driven by a few media members since Sunday night, some fans have been fuming against Weber for not being at the Guy Lafleur tribute night. Those media members have been stoking that fire ever since then, so for five consecutive days now! It’s nothing new. When you can’t get viewership, listenership or readership by producing quality content, you have to generate controversy to get it as without people talking about them, they would lose their jobs!
Ironically (or not), the biggest drivers of the anti-Weber bus are the same ones who, in June 2016, were the most vocal against the trade that saw Weber land in Montreal and their favourite P.K. Subban head to Nashville. Not just in French. Not just in English. The same culprits in both languages, those who cannot compete with the quality reporters, those who rely on controversy to get any attention, including but not limited to a couple of local newspapers and a few loud mouth radio announcers.
Listen up people, whomever you are, if you’re still reading as I doubt you are if you recognize yourself. Not that you care, because you clearly don’t have to ability to think further than your own self, there’s another team on the other side. Players hearing you boo one of the most respected and classy individuals. There are players wearing the Habs’ uniform, and I’m willing to bet that none of them appreciate the shameful and disrespectful display of stupidity you’ve provided. Those players talk to others.
Don’t think for a second that what the intelligence deprived individuals in the media and on social media say or do doesn’t have any bearings on players’ decisions to come and play in Montreal. Fact is it does. You may feel entitled to your opinion (which you are). You may feel like you have the right to do whatever because you pay to go there. But if you’re a fan of the team, a true fan of the team who wants them to win, you also must understand the negative impact your behaviour has on the team you claim cheering for. You must realize, one day, that there’s more in life than your poor entitled self, and your “hurt feelings”. By acting like your pitiful and miserable self, you’re making it even more difficult for management to do their job to bring you Stanley Cup number 25 that you claim wanting.
Sadness, frustration, shame
Now personally… I was in shock when I heard the boo birds. I was in disbelief, really, and I felt extremely sad, ashamed for Weber, a guy who gave it all on and off the ice. An outstanding man, a well respected man. Oh I knew that some people were not happy but never did I ever think that they would sink that low. Never have I ever imagined that, without knowing all of the facts, they would be stupid enough to wreck Pierre Gervais’ night. Because I can guarantee you that Gervais has the utmost respect for Weber and that he strongly disagreed with the boo birds. I’m certain that he was also hurting inside from that reaction. While sad, frustrating, it’s not surprising. Some people aren’t given the ability to think.
We like claiming that Montreal has the most knowledgeable fans in the NHL. In situations like this, allow me to doubt it. Oh some do know what they’re talking about, but those acting the way they did last night, those shaming the fan base, are amongst the biggest ignoramuses in all fan bases. They have no clue what they’re doing.
Truthfully, I am ashamed of saying that I cheer for the same team as those fools. Someone with a little bit of intelligence would say that they would have liked to see Weber at Lafleur’s tribute, but would also acknowledge that they don’t know the details of why he wasn’t there. That requires an IQ higher than the knob on the bathroom door. It takes a bit of perspective. Clearly, it’s not given to all media members and to the fans who take the bait. Thankfully, the season is over.