It’s the 70’s. The Montreal Forum is packed early and fans are chanting Go Habs Go in warmup as teams skate around. Fans have their face painted, banging the glass, yelling nastiness as opponents circle around. Players on the opposing team feel the electricity, they know they’re not welcomed, and they know that they’re in for a tough night, particularly if the home team gives them something to be riled up about. That was Montreal folks… WAS.
Fast forward to today. Now, fans are more mad at a person wearing a neon green coat at home games than they are at the opponents. On social media, we see polls about how annoyed TV watchers are at seeing fans at the Bell Centre tapping on the glass. For decades now, fans have been displaying more nastiness towards their own team, their own players, than they do towards their opponents. THAT is now considered okay. In fact, it has become the norm, the expectation. But don’t you dare make it difficult to opponents!
Oh it’s not happening only at the Bell Centre. The City’s sports’ fans have become soft. And when they’re not, the organisation “welcoming” their opponents are ensuring to make their fans softer… or politically correct. Just look at the recent the outrage of section 132 at Saputo Stadium. They’ve banned their own freakin’ fans for making it an unwelcoming place for opponents!!! That coming from the team that knows nothing about marketing with a blend name? But hey, at least they’re being politically correct and “classy”, right?
Forum Ghosts are gone
Since the Canadiens moved to the then Molson Centre (now Bell Centre), the Canadiens have only won 490 times at home in 975 games. That puts them 21st in the NHL in points percentage. In fact, amongst teams having played 900 home games or more, only eight teams are doing worse at home than Montreal in a period of what will be 26 years in March: Carolina, Los Angeles, New York (Rangers and Islanders), Buffalo, Florida, Arizona and Edmonton.
In the annual NHLPA players’ poll, Montreal is always amongst the favourite places to play… as an opponent! Yet, many players want nothing to do with playing in that fish bowl, wearing the red, white and blue. Of course, you’ll always have some who will prefer their privacy and quiet times off ice. There will be some who will use the language, taxes, weather as excuses not to play for the Canadiens. But it’s more than that. As mentioned earlier, fans and media are too often nastier towards their own than they are at their opponents!
Someone forgot to tell the old Forum ghosts of the past that the team was moving. Or they were too comfortable in the building where they poured sweat and blood, to follow the team in their new, modern confines. Either way, today’s Montreal Canadiens can’t seem to be able to count on them. Unfortunately, today’s team also cannot count on the home crowd like they used to. Political correctness has taken over everywhere, at the Bell Centre too. But hey, what a fun place to play, they say. Let’s keep on being “classy” by welcoming and cheering opponents. It seems to be working for our team… or not.