Through the Lens: Watching the Habs in 2018.

As my seven or eight avid readers know, we here at Random Rumblings can sometimes try and appreciate the humorous side of things…especially when they aren’t going well. From laughing at the myriad of fans we can “hab” a drink with, to lighting ourselves on fire and running down Ste Catherine street (this was a joke, please don’t do it).

The Habs stink this year. Everyone from our all world goaltender to our “playing out of position” young French superstar have struggled…a lot. This year’s Habs, however, have the rare combination of struggling and being painfully boring at times. As a result, it makes games hard to watch. It’s completely understandable that many of you have tuned out. That said, yours truly has not. Ever the loyal Habs fan, I sit through (most of) these games to bring you such exciting insight as:

“Wow, we aren’t very good” and “Wow, this is a boring game.”

In all seriousness, I watch these games and depending on my mood I may have a different lens on that will influence my insight. Certainly, when watching the games with friends or at the local drinking hole, I definitely get my fair share of exposure to the multitude of lenses people have to view these games. I compiled some of them and did my best to provide some guidance on the variety of lenses you may use to watch the remainder of the 2017-2018 Montreal Canadiens regular season.

1) The Negative Lens aka the “Fuck Bergevin” Lens.

If you spend a lot of time on Twitter you’d swear that this is the only way people are watching the remaining games (maybe even the whole season). In particular this lens come built in with a heightened disdain for GM Marc Bergevin, who admittedly did himself no favours earlier this year when he commented that the defense was better than last years.  I must say watching games in this frame of mine is incredibly tiring; the body language is consistently tight and weighed down. Watching the games with furrowed brow and muttering obscenities under your breath also can be draining. Other caveats include looking out for flying remotes; flying pillows; flying sofas; flying beer coasters; flying pint glasses, and finally flying bar stools.

Common phrases overheard during games:

“I hope Bergevin gets hit by a city bus”

“Esti maudit ma grand mere peuv jouer hockey mieux que Karl Alzner” (followed by a “fuck Bergevin tabernac”)

“If only we still had player X [Subban, Markov, Radulov, Sergachev, Eller, Beaulieu, etc..]” (followed by a “fucking Bergevin”)

“Pacioretty is the worst f’n captain and Price is the most overrated overpaid player in history” (Followed by a “Bergevin is a piece of shit”)

“THE HABS FN SUCK!!!” (Followed by “BERGEVIN FN SUCKS”)

2)  The Hyper Positive Lens.

This one is tough, but you’ll find more than a handful of fans who still hold out hope that the Habs will rebound and rebound so well…that next year they’ll be back to contending for a division title. I won’t comment on whether these people are avid smokers of a soon to be legalized drug in Canada, but you have to wonder if their rosy outlook is…enhanced. In all seriousness despite Montreal sized potholes in this line up, watching games through this lens allows you to experience the beauty of ignorant bliss. There’s something certainly appealing about not only focusing on the positives but blowing them wildly out of proportion that you can talk yourself into a number of different ways that the Habs will win the Cup next year. Ironically this lens is also accompanied by copius amount of Jameson, and a hazy disposition.

Common phrases heard when flying high through this lens are:

“Woweee did you Drouin stickhandle that puck (ignoring the fact it was after the whistle and flipping the puck to the linesman) TAKE THAT MARIO LEMIEUX!”

“Once we sign Tavares, Carlson, and trade for Karlsson, and Trochek we are going to be AMAZING MAN!”

“Hey…dude…where’s my car?”

“Weber is totally chilling out, and getting plasma enriched platelets pumped into his foot…it’s going to change his life man.”

“Carey Price is like a fine wine Bro – I’m telling you maaaan, he will only get better with age.”

3) The Lamenting Lens.

I think most humans have a habit of backtracking and wondering “what could have been”; regretting decisions and lamenting on how things could be different. This way of watching a game is akin to suffering through a breakup, losing a cherished memento, or going bankrupt. (Or in the case of Subban fans – all three)(I kid, I kid…please don’t attack me). This lens will require many tissues around you to dab away the tears. Expect the occasional negative lens outburst but you will ultimately be collapsing into a mound of tattered napkins. Oddly enough this lens also tends to include copious amount of Jameson (I’m sensing a trend). It’s best to wear a Subban branded tuque, Markov jersey, and “I heart Radu” tshirt when descending into the emotional tormenting depths of watching a game in this frame of mind.

Common phrases when drowning in a puddle of your tears and drool are:

“But Alzner is slower than Markov…I don’t get it. I JUST DON’T GET IT.” (just before bursting into tears and choking on some Kleenex)

“What did Russia do to you Marc? WHAT?? (Sniffles) I miss Radu and Marky”

**Staring lovingly at a portrait of P.K Subban** (mostly occurs with Adele’s “Someone like You” playing in the background…actually it’s in your head)

“Wait…our defense could be Subban, Markov, Sergachev, Petry, Mete, Juulsen???” (after this epiphany you’d likely burst into a puddle of CH shaped tears and rise a negative fan like the Dark Lord Voldemort.)

4) The Panic/Burn It All Down Lens.

This goes beyond rebuilding or retooling as Marc Bergevin says, this is when you’ve gotten to a point where you want to tear down the foundations of the Bell Center, and start over from the owner to the guy who shoots t-shirts into the crowd during the intermission (aka my son’s real favorite player). Essentially the Habs may as well be closing shop because EVERYONE MUST GO. There’s a high level of irrational thinking when you’re wearing these lenses. You’re bewildered as your thoughts race on how everyone on the team will need to be traded, dumped, buried in the minors or run over with the team bus. When watching a game in this mode, outbursts of rage are common, as is maniacal laughter, as well as general confusion. You essentially become the Joker or Harley Quinn or a mix of both.

Common phrases heard while slamming your fists on the bar, and asking random people if they want to see a magic trick, and wondering what bar you’re in, are:

“Everything is fine…I don’t get it…WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING!”

“FIRE BERGEVIN AND REPLACE HIM WITH ME”

“TRADE EVERYONE AND REPLACE THEM WITH ME…except Gallagher, everyone likes Gallagher”

“…we have zero good players. How is that possible…what do you mean we have some…THEY ALL SUCK. We must trade them…ALL!”

“Eh…the Habs lost again..ha ha…they lost…hahahehe…they LOST AGAIN HAHAHAAHEHEHEHEHOHO”

“Carey Weber and Shea Price are evil human beings.” (This is usually followed by someone asking “umm are you ok?”)

“Yes I’m fine” (in response to the question “umm are you ok?”)

5) The Parenting Lens.

Recently I took my son to his kindergarten assessment. I played it super cool as the assessment approached. As he lined up to be taken by the teacher down the hall, I smiled and gave him a thumbs up. I over used the words “buddy” and “pal” to overcompensate for the burning volcano of anxiety bubbling inside me. He waved and gave a big smile as he disappeared into the class. At that moment I turned to my wife and said: Holy shit I’m going to barf.

Luckily (for the other parents in the lobby) – I didn’t. But I found it funny how that type of anxiety can apply to watching the Habs right now. One of the few positive remaining things to do is to observe the how the young players both existing on the team and recent call ups are doing. This lens can certainly slip on as I occasionally deal with pangs of anxiety for these young men. Will they play? Will this city chew them up and spit them out? Will the media turn on them? Will the fans give them a shot to succeed? It also dawned upon me that some of these players could be my children at which point I immediately shifted into a lamented lens – not about the Habs – but about my greying beard. Regardless this can happen to you if you’re a diehard Habs fan and genuinely care about the well-being of these people in the jerseys. There is a genuine sense of relief at seeing Scherbak and Juulsen play well, or hoping Drouin can turn it around a real tough year.

Common phrases heard:

“I sure hope little Mete scores a goal this year!”

“Awww, look how happy they are all for Scherbak!”

“Don’t worry Noah! Barzal would make anyone look flat footed!”

“Leave Drouin alone you bully!” (Not directed to the other team but to Habs fans)

“I love you Artturi” (this is a direct quote from me)

6) The Rational and Realistic Lens.

I admit this one is the toughest: it can also go in a couple directions. You can rationally watch these games and know the Habs need a real rebuilding strategy. You’re not into it with the vigor of the Panicky / Burn It All Down lens as you need have your wits about you. It requires maintaining a realistic approach of what the Habs are willing and not willing to do. Would it make sense to look at moving Carey Price and Shea Weber in a real rebuild – yes, but that is not something that will realistically happen with this managing group. (For the record, I don’t think either guy is untradeable as they’re made out to be but for different reasons). Now you could be someone who hopes for a new management team, and that’s ok. But part of this lens is watching these games rationally AND to also accept reality. All signs point to same management teams being in power. Either way you’re looking at the young guys, and assessing their development. The holes on the Habs are painfully obvious (top two center positions, top left defenseman). Can some of the young guys step up? Who out there can rationally fill those holes? At this point you actually watch the other teams with a little more scrutiny. Watching games in this lens can be fun, as there could be a lot of speculation to discuss, but it can easily tip into The Negative lens or The Hyper Positive lens, and that’s what makes this one so tough. When watching the games you’ll spend more time talking about the offseason than the games.

Common phrases heard:

“OK, so it’s established that the Habs have to overpay to sign/keep free agents. There is no point getting upset about that. So how much money can they realistically throw at Tavares?”

“So with the same management team, they’ll need to throw money at UFAs. The odds of Tavares signing in Montreal are close to zero – so who else is out there? Are we ok paying a Bozak or Statsny more than market value to be a 2C?”

“If the Habs could not get a C back for the Pacioretty, should they shift gears are try to nab a top LD?”

“I do want them lose to have a better shot at Dahlin, but it’s hard not to cheer for your team.”

“The kids on this team are alright. They lack a real superstar (although the jury is still out on Drouin,and even Galchenyuk) but there are a number of good wingers and role players”

Finally you could just watch it with The Habs Fan lens.

As previously mentioned, losing improves the odds, but professional athletes aren’t geared towards “tanking.” Although this fan base has been torn apart by Subban trade, and the miserable offseason/season the Habs have had, there are still A LOT of true blue Habs fans out there who just want to see these players succeed.

So allow me to wear a rational, hyper positive, with a slight lamenting lens. Yes this season has me down in the dumps, but I’ve accepted that this team isn’t very good, and it’ll end up picking somewhere between 3 and 7 at the draft even if it picks up a few wins down the stretch.

Given that I feel comfortable in sometimes slipping on my Habs fans lens, and repeating this common phrase:

“Go Habs Go!

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