By Waldo1947 | SWP Journal, Montreal Canadiens contributor
Santa surprised our family this year with tickets to the Habs-Panthers game on Saturday, February 1. (He also surprised us with the credit card bill!) It was the first time my children (6 ½ and 9) could see their Habs live. It was so cool to watch them experience the game as a child. Some of the more pervasive quotes: “Mommy, look at Carey Price!” “Dad, Shea Weber just took another slapshot!” “Can we have more hot dogs?”
The Florida Panthers forgot to bring their legs to Montreal and we got to see a dominating 4-0 win. My kids will never forget their first game and my daughter even drew a picture of her experience. If you look closely, the Habs are smiling, Tatar is scoring, and the Panthers look overwhelmed. Huge font dedicated to the 4-0 win and “oh yeah” truly encapsulates everything hockey should be for a kid.
I found myself jealous of their innocence when it comes to watching their Habs. As I was staring around the Bell Center looking at all the past glory of the Habs, I just got angry. How did we get here? Where are we going? And more importantly, are other “Hab-Dads” as bitter as I am?
JESPERI KOTKANIEMI SENT TO LAVAL - SHAME ON YOU JULIEN AND BERGEVIN
On October 31, I wrote a blog accusing Bergevin and Julien of being Millennial Parents. Millennial Parents think their own kids are better than they really are and make excuses when their kids fall short of expectations. Then, when it comes time to take the blame for having had a hand in ruining their own children, Millennial Parents hope their kids’ teachers can raise them. Kotkaniemi should have NEVER been permitted to play for the Habs as an 18 year old. Bergevin, desperate to prove he can draft well and Julien, wearing myopic glasses that cannot plan for the future, could not see that they were destroying the kid’s confidence. Now Julien is hoping the teachers in Laval can raise his child properly. If Kotkaniemi fails in Laval, Julien can say Bergevin made the wrong pick. If Kotkaniemi succeeds, Julien can take credit. Either way, it's like starting a fire, saving the family cat trapped in the fire, putting the fire out, and then claiming you are the hero.
WHY CAN’T THE HABS WIN AT HOME?
Watching my Habs at home on Saturday also got me thinking about their lousy home record. I have given Julien the benefit of the doubt all year. His roster isn’t exactly Cup-worthy and there have been some injuries. Then I got to thinking: home is where you get last change and therefore, if game-planning is solid, you have a better than 50-50 chance of winning. Of the 31 teams in the NHL, only 4 have a losing record at home. Detroit is the worst by a long shot - 0.333 win %. Ranked 30th, however, is the Montreal Canadiens with a 0.448% (11-14-4). 87% of the NHL is 0.500 or better at home. Claude, you can't blame that on Kotkaniemi! Time to look in the mirror.
WHAT HAS BECOME OF THE MONTREAL CANADIEN BRAND?
There were a lot of empty seats in the lower bowl on Saturday. It used to be a guarantee that 21,273 was the attendance every night. The team did not announce the attendance on Saturday. Ottawa Senator fans get picked on a lot for having such poor attendance numbers in a Canadian market. In their defense, they have an unpredictable owner and a bottom 5 team to watch. Who could blame them for not wanting to pay the ridiculous prices they are charged to support a lousy owner and watch an inferior product. Are Habs fans going to do the same? The game and concessions cost my family of 4 over $450. (Thank God Santa Claus paid!) Why should Habs fans continue supporting a team that shows no sign of getting better? Bergevin claims it is hard to attract free agents or make trades because of taxes or geography. Could it be that smart hockey players in their prime do not want to play for a losing team with no hope for the future?
HAB-DADS - HANG IN THERE!
When my dad was 9 years old (1956) the Habs were 45-15-10, and about to win their 2nd of 5 straight Cups. As a proud Hab-Dad, he passed the team onto me. When I was 9 years old (1988) the Habs were 45-22-13, 2 years removed from a Cup, 1 year away from a Final, and 5 years from a 24th Stanley Cup. I just thought that the Habs won all of the time and was proud to be a fan. I will never forget staying up late for the 10 OT wins in a row in 1993 with my dad. Something like that experience solidifies your allegiance and you can never see yourself rooting for another team. Furthermore, you make it your mission to pass it on to your children. Needless to say, my dad had a much easier time of it!
As a Hab-Dad, I’m getting a little tired of hearing my kids running down the stairs in the morning, checking the scores, and yelling up to me, “Daddy, you are not going to like this. The Habs lost again!”
I did the right thing by passing on my love for the Habs to my children. Right?