Friday, May 30, 2014
Merci, les gars
Canadiens fans are routinely accused of living in the past, but long gone are the days when attending a Stanley Cup parade was considered a Montreal birthright. Fans old enough to remember the Canadiens' last two championships will also recall that those teams benefitted enormously from the prohibitive Cup favourites of the day - Edmonton in 1986 and Pittsburgh in '93 - being upset by other teams. The Canadiens cleared their own path to the Eastern Conference final in 2014 by eliminating the Boston Bruins, who were the consensus best team in the NHL heading into the post-season. That's what we'll remember most about these playoffs, just as the 2010 run to the Stanley Cup semifinals is remembered more for beating the Penguins and Capitals than it is for losing to the Flyers.
Forty years ago, when the Canadiens routinely competed for the Stanley Cup in a 16 team league watered down by expansion, there was no consolation in anything less than a championship. For the sake of their own sanity, no team's fans can adopt an all or nothing mindset in a 30 team salary cap era.
Just two years removed from finishing last in their conference, the Canadiens gave us a playoff thrill ride. With a solid core of youth that includes not one but TWO franchise players and a general manager who's become a quick study in assembling a legitimate contender, the Canadiens have turned a corner and should only get better in the foreseeable future. That might or might not translate into a Stanley Cup, but they're in the competitive mix, and that's the most any modern day fan can realistically ask for.