By JD Lagrange – Well, here we are. For several years now, we’ve been living in a society where political correctness is more important than values. Not just in hockey, but everywhere we turn. We have a PM changing the National Anthem without asking its residents. We have companies removing the credits to an African American woman on a syrup bottle. Sports teams having to change names, Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie now have to be declared same sex lovers, while Cookie Monster now eats… veggies! Wile E. Coyote has to stop falling or running into things. Elmer Fudd (a hunter) and Yosemite Sam (an old west cowboy) can’t have a gun anymore… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Preface: This is just one man’s opinion and I know that what I will be sharing here will not sit well with some. So beware. My opinion is not better than anyone’s, but the reverse is just as true. I am speaking MY truth, not YOUR truth or THE truth, remember. This is simply how I feel about it and just like I can’t tell you how to feel, the same applies both ways. You don’t like it? Good. You do? Also good. But it had to be said.
Tarnishing the name
The Montreal Canadiens are unrecognizable since the arrival of Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes, Martin St-Louis and Chantal Machabée. Admittedly, most of what they do is very progressive and, in general, quite good and refreshing. The team might have needed to “get with the times”, as some say. When a new management group takes over, there’s this feeling of hope that wasn’t there at the end of the previous group’s mandate. It’s always the case. So everything that they do is perceived as Gold in this honeymoon stage. But if history has taught us anything, this is just a phase and over time, controversy will inevitably point its face.
They are, in my opinion, starting to go too far in some aspects. First, this horrible, but horrible sponsors’ logo on the sacred Canadiens’ jersey. Geoff Molson and the historical Montreal Canadiens are falling into the Gary Bettman panel of greed, where everything is turning into money. Nothing else matters but making a coin, even tarnishing the name, the logo, the history of this once proud franchise. Some people want to see it as a “one-of”. What they don’t see is that when they opened that door by putting sponsors on helmet to compensate for lost revenues during COVID and that door will never closed. Notice that the fans are back in arenas and not only are the logos still on the helmets, they’ve added one on the sacred jersey. You would be foolish to think that there won’t be more in a few years.
P.K. Subban, off the ice, has a big heart. I genuinely believe that he’s a good guy on an individual level and pledging to raise $10 million for a hospital shows that good side of his. A side note of clarification here, he PLEDGE to help raise that money. He did not DONATE $10 million as some like to say. Charismatic, he is comfortable in front of cameras and he absolutely loves the limelight. And he will ensure to find those cameras. While others work with charities behind the scene, Subban called that big press conference to announce this pledge. He’s much like Patrick Roy that way.
Subban has another side of him that some people refuse to acknowledge though, and that’s what got him traded from Montreal to start with. Oh I know, a few will blame former GM Marc Bergevin and then head coach Michel Therrien, but it’s so much more than that. He was traded because P.K. was there for… P.K. Disrespectful of his teammates in the dressing room, on flights, not going to team functions, going against team rules… his priorities simply weren’t at the right place in a team environment. That’s why he wasn’t voted by his teammates for the King Clancy after the $10 million pledge. That’s why not one of his teammates were present at that press conference. It wasn’t just in Montreal either as weeks after arriving in Nashville, team captain Mike Fisher went to speak to the Predators’ management about the same issues. He eventually got traded from there again.
Now, in the biggest smoke screen and publicity stunt that I’ve seen this organization do in 50-plus years following them, the Canadiens are having a “welcome home” party for Subban. Have you ever stopped and wondered why? Oh yes, he won a Norris Trophy… in a 48-games season with the support of the Toronto and Montreal media votes who loved his charisma and media availability. They could justify it because of his offense.
The fact is that in my humble opinion, he wasn’t the best all round defenseman that shortened season. In fact, I’ll push further by saying that he wasn’t even the best overall defenseman on the Canadiens, as Andrei Markov was better than him. League-wide, a few other defensemen were more deserving than Subban. Kris Letang, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber are three that pop to mind even without having to look at stats. But these guys didn’t play in Canada, in Montreal, and they don’t like to schmooze the camera.
Subban is the same guy who recently went on camera to say that he would have signed for $7 million a season to stay in Montreal his entire career. And some buy that crap? That’s a pure lie as he was holding out at training camp to get the $9 million that Geoff Molson reportedly eventually told Marc Bergevin to give him.
Regardless, what’s done is done. The issue that I have is this once classy organization, set into its tradition of quality, with the highest standards, has now become “one of the others”. Gimmick Reverse-Retro jerseys, corporate driven at the expense of common-sense, political correctness… all for a buck.
I will go further in saying that this decision to pay tribute to a guy who was kicked out of Montreal to bring into the organization one of the NHL’s best known leaders and hockey player in Shea Weber, is pure hypocrisy. Yes, that’s right, the Canadiens have become hypocrites! The same management group, the same organization that is having this fake tribute to appease a few fans, is the same organization and management group that had no hesitation to give away #6 to… Chris “freaking” Wideman. Way too soon. While the guy who wore that number, with a “C” on his chest, put his body through hell, sacrificed his career playing injured, in a colossal effort to bring this team, this organization, its 25th Stanley Cup. If you don’t see the hypocrisy in that, I don’t know what to tell you.
I see it coming, some people will use this article and point of view to convince everyone that I’m racist. Those people will conveniently ignore that before the Leafs got him, I was hoping the Habs would get Wayne Simmonds, or that I was a fan of Georges Laraque during his Oilers’ days. They won’t know that Jarome Iginla is one of my all-time favourite players. They’ll ignore that two of my current favourite players are Seth Jones and Darnell Nurse. But I don’t like the Subban night because he’s black, they’ll say, as they’ve done in the past. When you run out of argument, you pull the racism or hate card.
So we’ll move on, and while the mass will be applauding the Canadiens’ decision to bring a controversial player home, this once proud organization will, in my mind, have lost even more respect for the way they are becoming followers instead of being the leaders that I was once proud to be a fan of. Remember that when following the masses, sometimes, the “m” is silent.