Friday, April 30, 2010


One of my favorite expressions in sports is "act like you've been there before," which was coined by football legend Vince Lombardi in reference to excessive end zone touchdown celebrations, but applies universally in the context of embracing success with dignity and humility. It's a concept that remains lost on a generation of Montreal Canadiens fans who insist on celebrating first round playoff victories like Stanley Cup championships, in large part because they HAVEN'T been there before.
Anyone under the age of 25 would have only fleeting memories of Montreal's last Stanley Cup win if they remember it at all, and that's the demographic that leads the charge into the streets whenever the Canadiens enjoy the slightest taste of post-season success. I don't begrudge them their enthusiasm and I applaud them for keeping property damage to a minimum so far this year, but there's something unseemly about gloating and borderline hysteria one-quarter of the way down a long and difficult playoff road.
When the Canadiens were winning championships as a matter of course in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the fans - like the team - took it a game at a time and a series at a time, saved the celebration for the actual Stanley Cup parade and even then were able to unbridle their passion without resorting to civil unrest.
If I sound like a geezer pining for the good old days, maybe that's because I'm a geezer pining for the good old days. Take it from a guy who was alive for 12 Canadiens Stanley Cup champions before the age of 21 - they're called the good old days for a reason, and being older never made anyone wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Ted, you are right on the money! I spent a good many years as a Habs fan; they were always my second team behind Pittsburgh. I sort of drifted away as a fan after the Gainey/Robinson era, but I didn't realize how long it had been until I saw these fans celebrating a first round victory like a Stanley Cup win.

    Montreal was always a team that prided itself on defining success as "nothing less than a Cup". Anything less was a failure and a wasted season. I don't know if it is a sign of how far the team has fallen or a sign of the times in the NHL that you can't count on winning consistently anymore, but this is not the way I grew up.

    Heck, I still bristle when I see teams hang banners for things like Division and Conference "championships". You didn't win ANYTHING unless you win the Cup.

    I guess I'm a geezer too.