Losing and sucking: much different.

One of my favourite Twitter pals commented on my latest blog and for nearly three days I didn’t take the time to respond; actually, I didn’t even stop at my laptop long enough to hit the approve button.

So as my most sincere apology, I am responding to her words in a blog, as what she wrote rehashed some thoughts I’ve had for a very long time.

Here is the portion of cokeaddict’s comment that I’d like to focus on (she’s a Toronto-based Habs fan… I know, weird right?):

“I think the phrase that confused me the most on Twitter was the concept of “fan complacency.” Uhm…what is that? We’re supposed to “demand” more from the management & coaching staff. What?!

I like to enjoy the game for what it is; cheer for the team no matter who’s on it, leading it, or paying it; and hope for the best. Those unrealistic things like “trade Gomez for Stamkos or Iggy” are just…I have no word for it.

If people wanna armchair coach, they’re more than welcome. But I get a bit annoyed at being accused of being a complacent fan because I’m happy to cheer for the team the way they are. I didn’t realize I wasn’t sufficiently passionate in fulfilling my “fan” duties.”

See, what bugs me about this is she’s been accused in a similar way to what I get accused of sometimes, which is being much too easy on the Montreal Canadiéns. But when I come on here and tell fans to settle down and quit overreacting to everything, I’m not going easy on the team at all but rather trying to get a sense of the *“actual”* reasoning behind certain decisions and transactions. (Over-highlighting that word stems from the necessity to drill this home with an overwhelming mass of Habs fans who WAY over-think every single aspect of a team they legitimately know nothing about.)

Cokeaddict is accused of complacency from some of these people because she chooses to not get bent out of shape every time something doesn’t go the club’s way, or a player isn’t playing as well as they maybe should be, or a guy who never plays is traded, or management does the right thing and allows a young coach to find a job with an NHL team, or a goalie with but one 9-9 playoff run who inaccurately convinces a bunch of know-it-alls he’s a god gets traded in lieu of a kid with every quality a team wants in a superstar goaltender but had a few growing pains before his 23rd birthday… Should I continue, or has my horribly long-winded 113-word sentence proved my point?

The fact is, cokeaddict is the real fan and these other dipshits are nothing more than people my buddies and I would throw out of the living room during pregame.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with over-passionate fans. I am ridiculous myself and before, during and for about 15 minutes after every game of any team I cheer for, I shouldn’t be around people unlike me.

It’s something I understand about myself — have for years — and therefore work diligently to ensure my game-time surroundings are in compliance. But when it’s over, it’s over, and I instantly turn back into someone who much prefers logical thinking to useless, irrational idea sessions.

The funny thing about pro sports is at the end of every season, no matter what league, 29 or more teams are left asking the question “What went wrong?” The answers will inevitably be highly detailed and thought out by its management — accurately or otherwise — and over-the-top and dream-riddled by many of its fans.

Of course, the real answer for a lot of teams is simply that a particular opponent had a higher total on the scoreboard at the end of a very specific game on a very specific day because they happened to have more offensive success for any number of about 37,000 reasons. Meaning, on any other day, in any other game, the scoreboard results could easily have been different.

But they weren’t. And that’s the point.

Sure, for a portion of teams, the answer is an even simpler “because they weren’t good enough,” but in a league like the NHL and its orchestrated parity through a salary cap, that number is actually a fair bit smaller than the teams who simply didn’t enjoy favourable circumstance for one variable or another.

Take last year for example. The Philadelphia Flyers were a shoot-out-gone-wrong away from missing the playoffs and played for the Stanley Cup two months later.

So isn’t it fair to say the New York Rangers, who actually wound up on the wrong end of the same circumstance that game, had a chance to win it all? And if the ninth-place team in the East had a chance, surely you’d agree the ninth-place team in the West had a chance.

So at minimum, 18 teams in 2009/10 had legitimate shots at the Stanley Cup, yet without any doubt I can say 17 of those teams had portions of their fan bases questioning the team from the top down. This might be the ageless right for any passionate fan but tolerance of that in no way proves its worth.

This year, the Habs were eliminated in the first round after reaching the conference final the year before. But if you think this year’s team wasn’t as good as last year’s team, you are colossally stupid.

And if you try to use either version’s level of success to argue your point, your stupidity is no longer colossal. It’s galactic.

I’m sorry, but as you’re reading this the league is totally proving my point. Boston needed every decent bounce they could wish for to squeak past the Habs and are completely handling Philadelphia. The fact Philly could still easily come back and make a series of it only supports what I’m saying even more.

And if the Montreal Canadiéns had a reasonable shot to win, which it clearly did, wouldn’t it be fair to say Carolina, Calgary and Dallas, who all missed the playoffs by less than two wins, had the same reasonable shot?

So that makes at least 19 teams this season that could have made decent runs at winning the entire thing. And yes, some teams have the on-paper advantage but so what? That useless category couldn’t possibly have more examples of meaning jack shit.

My closing statement, on behalf of the grooviest Coca-Cola advocate I know, is this:

All you can ever ask for as a fan, especially in the post-lockout era, is did your team’s management ice a roster capable of making the playoffs? And if they can get in, do they have enough talent to take advantage of the good bounces that may come their way?

Moreover, it’s up to you to understand that just because the answers to those two questions might be yes doesn’t mean it will all work out in the end anyway because about 18 other fan bases responded the same way you did.

As for the Montreal Canadiéns, considering they haven’t used the new-age strategy of being the worst team in the NHL for 5 years and haven’t been able to stockpile two or three 100-point 19-year-olds, they’ve done pretty good in recent years.

And you’re right, there are currently examples on the roster of both great and poor draft choices, great and poor transactions and great and poor personalities, which the fans can argue about all summer and beyond if they’d like. But before you become one of those to start or join a bitch fest, try to remember one little thing.

Hindsight is the idiot’s encyclopedia.

9 Responses to “Losing and sucking: much different.”

  1. Awww…I think I’m blushing…Probably Coke-can red right now.

    Thanks for the rant! It’s exactly how I feel (and I’m sure others do to) when ostracized on Twitter for not getting upset enough…or being too easy on players *cough*AK*cough*.

    There are decisions being made with information we don’t have. And sometimes (I know this will be a shocker) decisions that aren’t fantastic for the game are better for the business. As long as we don’t see a Montreal version of Harold Ballard, where great business decisions are made at the expense of the game (Cup be damned), I think we’ll be ok.

    The game and the league aren’t the same anymore. You can’t *expect* the same Stanley Cup champion to win a few years in a row (that’s not to say it’s impossible, though). After you win, you practically have to dismantle your team because you can’t afford to re-sign important players.

    But haters gotta hate. If it’s gonna be me because I don’t scream and yell until I’m blue in the face about how Gauthier and Martin don’t know how to do their jobs, so be it. They might think they can do a better job, but they’re not getting paid for it. Gauthier and Martin, meanwhile, are getting a pretty penny for “knowing nothing.” Personally, I wouldn’t mind a gig like that either.

  2. Great Scott! I think you’re on to something – as is our beloved @cokeaddict.

    I have my moments as well as you do – there’s no doubt about that. Generally, during games, and immediately after matches, would be bad times to ask my opinion on outcomes and play; as I can get a bit “testy”. But in reality, I try to keep a square head on the old shoulders.

    One of the things that I’ve prided myself on, is my ability to remain positive, even in “times of trouble”during the Habs season. And I try to reflect that in my writing as well.

    You have hit some seriously correct nails on the head with this piece. And if our Coke-a-holic friend assisted to inspire this piece … well then I commend you both.

    It’s always interesting to watch Twitter explode with such positive Tweets after a game winner; and to implode with negativity during a loss. Yet the funny thing is – many of those fans have no resolute answers to the “conundrums” that they say face the franchise. They blame the organization incessantly with great knowledge, from the comfort of their living room.

    I too, tire of the incessant “answers” to the “issues” facing the team, from people that neither have the inside knowledge of what’s really happening, or the realistic wherewithal to “set it straight”.

    One of my followers on Twitter said the following – and I think it should be the motto of any true fan of any franchise in any sport:

    “I will follow this team wherever they take me.”

    We are blessed to have a team like the Montréal Canadiens. We are fortunate to see as much spring hockey as we do. If we focused a bit more on what we get, as opposed to what we want – we’d all be a better fan base.

    Thanks for the great read Scott … and you too CA!

    • That’s pretty much a perfect response, Iain. Couldn’t agree more.

    • ^_^ Thanx, Iain. Yay, me! Yay, Scott! GO HABS GO!!!

      I could be wrong but I think lissa77 said “I will follow this team wherever they take me.” Or someone said it and she RT’d it.

      Players change. Coaches & GMs change. But my love for this team wil never falter. The end.

  3. Love the way you write. Well done.

    We’re a bit of a different animal, as I enjoy the “armchair GM” game, but I don’t presume to know what I’m doing, or that it’s an easy job.

    I do agree that parity has essentially leveled the playing field to the point where literally 2/3rds of the league go in to the season have playoff (and thus Cup aspirations), so expecting deep cup runs every year is not realistic in a cap era.

    But I think the fans are only right to follow the lead of the team, and their stated goal is to finish in the top “tier” of the league, whatever that means.

    Last year when the Habs were bounced, I knew that it was both a blessing and a curse. The bar was raised, for better or worse. The fact that the Habs blew a 2-0 series lead to their most bitter rivals only made the loss worse and the hand-wringing louder than normal. I don’t think it’s unfair to be upset with blowing that lead…I think in that position, you need to find a way to finish. But that’s another discussion.

    Talking about what went wrong and how things may be improved is cathartic for many fans, even if it’s total fantasy.

    As I mentioned in CokeAddict’s post, die-hard fans who don’t partake in armchair coaching or GM games aren’t necessarily “complacent”. They’re being confused with the casual fan who only tunes in if the team is really good, or in the playoffs. The over-zealous, nasty group of fans need to chill. At times, I’m in that group, but I don’t think being in one camp or the other makes one a better fan than the other. There’s no way for fans to affect the success/failure of the team, so you’re right when you say that there’s no point in getting all worked up and discussing ad nauseum. But if some do partake in that, as long as it’s reasonably level-headed talk, I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Just a good dose of respect for other viewpoints is all that’s needed…even if that’s easier said than done.

    • So very true, Kyle. I’m not saying a fan should never question a move or the direction of the team, nor am I saying it’s wrong to have a wish list of what you might like to see happen with that team. What does bother me to no end is the irrationality that tends to come out for some who take these ‘questions’ too far. Not every GM decision is going to get Sam Pollock comparisons but they aren’t going to out-stink Mike Milbury either.
      And I really just don’t have time for “fire that guy” or “cut that guy” talks anymore because people only want to talk about a coach who simply isn’t going anywhere and a bazillion-dollar centreman who is absolutely guaranteed going to get another shot at redemption. At some point these facts simply have to be acknowledged and then once that happens, what are people trying to gain by never, ever, ever, ever letting it go? Like, eff. We know how these people feel, can’t they just shut up or cheer for someone else? Because I’m so very tired of having these negative know-it-alls telling the rest of us ‘they told us so’ after every single, solitary loss.
      I can respect all viewpoints as long as they’re not derived from horribly uneducated sources and/or delivered in a way that is completely disrespectful to the team and inconsiderate to other fans.
      Thanks as always for the comments, Kyle! Your opinion means a TON on this page and PS, you can play GM any day my friend. LOL
      Go Habs!

  4. Great read! It’s always tough to lose in the playoffs, especially against a hated rival, but people need to keep perspective. Without 3 of our best core guys we took a team that was supposed to steamroll us to 7 games, despite several controversial goals for Boston and very few bounces going our way.

    • Unfortunately, it seems this very obvious fact eludes a lot of people. Oh well, another summer of naysayers. Surprised? Me neither.
      Thanks for the comments Andrew!
      Anyone else reading this, be sure to visit Andrew’s work at habseyesontheprize.com. He’s a constant go-to for sensible analysis on a team overrun by the opposite.

  5. Frankly, while I wasn’t pleased that we lost, and to Boston, when I think of the long line of injuries that took down some of our best players, I am thrilled that we made it to the playoffs and came so close to moving to the next round. Our guys played their hearts out — I truly believe that. And you don’t honor that kind of effort with backbiting and naysaying — not if you’re any kind of real fan, you don’t. JMHO.

    About JM: Yes, I have been known to grumble about him. I would like to see a little more animation and I wish he wasn’t so quick to sit on small leads. But I hope he either 1) has a really thick skin or 2) has learned over the years to ignore us, because some of the things I’ve read hurt ME, and it’s not like I’m the coach’s biggest fan. There’s a line between disagreeing with strategy and out-and-out personal attacks, and you’d think the kind of knowledgeable people Canadiens fans are would know not to cross over it. Ah, well…

    Looking forward to next year, with or without Jagr. :) Les Habs sont mon équipe, gagner ou perdre! (The Habs are my team, win or lose!)

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