Saturday, December 08, 2007

12-8-07: Hurricanes 5, Canadiens 1

As Elisabeth Kubler-Ross famously pointed out, any time a person loses someone or something important to them, they go through 5 identifiable stages of grief. It is, apparently, a nearly universal human pattern that allows one to psychologically adjust to the absence of something important in one’s life. Like, for example, a half-decent hockey team, which everyone knows is one of essentials of a happy, healthy existence. The Habs, however, are not a half-decent team these days, so I’d appreciate it if fans of other teams (Leafs excepted, of course, we know what vindictive souls y’all are) would approach each of us henceforth as one would a person who has just suffered the loss of a loved one in a mysterious and inexplicable accident. For the benefit of said other fans, let’s take a moment to review the 5 stages of hockey-fan grieving:

1. Denial: Skid? What skid? They won the last game! Sure, they’ve had some rough periods recently, but it’s not the team’s fault- the refs have been absolutely killing us. Like that goal that was disallowed in the first period of this game- there was no kicking motion there whatsoever, much less a ‘distinct’ one! But of course, all goals are reviewed in Toronto… And then there were all those cheap calls- Kovalev didn’t hold anyone! And 17 minutes to Komisarek? He was just defending himself! Against the exact sort of dirty, unforgivable check-from-behind that the League should be cracking down on! Look, I’m not saying they played perfectly, but everyone knows that bad, biased officiating can totally demoralize a team. Also, we’ve got too many injuries- Huet and Begin and Smolinksi out, Markov obviously playing through something, and I heard that Koivu sprained three toes on his right foot. Also, the Habs always do worse during the new moon, it affects their hormones.

2. Anger: What the fuck do they think they’re doing? My GRANDMOTHER could play better hockey than this. I swear to god, my freakin’ GRANDMOTHER. And she’s DEAD. Don’t they have any pride? Any passion? We should just call up all the fucking Bulldogs and send all these spoiled millionaires down, maybe then we’d get to see someone playing the game like they care. Look at Lapierre and O’Byrne, Chipchura and Kostitsyn, at least their showing a little spark. Not like the rest of the lazy, soft, useless bums. Carbonneau needs to be fired right fucking now so we can hire someone who’ll whip their sorry asses back into shape, put the fear o’God into ‘em!

3. Bargaining: Maybe we can trade Ryder for somebody? Jagr’s struggling, isn’t he? Maybe the Rangers don’t want him anymore. Or, um… what about Gorges? He’s young, maybe he’s got some kind of upside, and you know, Calgary’s really slumping these days, maybe Keenan would move Phaneuf just to shake things up… Or, hey, here’s an idea, Koivu straight up to Tampa for Lecavalier? I mean, sure Saku’s kinda old and kinda accident-prone and struggling quite a bit right now, but hey, he’s cheaper, maybe they want to unload some salary?

4. Depression: What has happened to us? RDS, gearing up for next year’s centennial, shows historical clips during the intermissions- 100 years of Le Club de Hockey Canadien. 100 years. 100 years of being nearly perennial contenders, of winning more and more regularly than anyone else. 24 Stanley Cups, several of the most dominant dynasties the game has ever seen, countless now-legendary players. It’s been 14 years since the last Cup, 14 years of failure- they wouldn’t have tolerated that in the past. We wouldn’t have tolerated it. Yet now, with no indication of improvement, we nevertheless pack the Bell Centre night after night to watch little more than abject mediocrity or worse. This centennial shouldn’t be a celebration, it should be a wake: everyone come to view the well-preserved but lifeless corpse that was once Les Glorieux.

5. Acceptance: It’s a slump. A nasty one. We can’t score, we can’t defend, we can’t kill penalties, and (Bruins aside) it just seems to be getting worse with time. They’ve shown so little that’s good in the past month that it’s difficult to remember that they’re the same team who seemed so energetic, capable, and industrious early in the season. But every team slumps. Every single one: Ottawa slumps. Annaheim slumps. Pittsburgh has Crosby, they still slump. Detroit… okay, Detroit doesn’t slump, but that doesn’t mean they win the Cup every single year, does it? It just happens, for different reasons and at different times, and it’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the season. Right now, bad games are feeding more bad games in the ugly way that losing streaks accumulate. Eventually, however, they will snap it, they will pull out a good and inspiring game that will get the momentum rolling back in the other direction. They will remember that they can play well, when the confidence is there, when they trust their abilities, when they at least try to trust each other. Until then, there’s nothing a fan can do but wait. And hope.


Actually, Habs fans, scratch that. Hope is for pussies. Don’t hope, heckle. Go to the Bell Centre, or failing that, your nearest convenient message board, and mock, berate, insult, and degrade your Habs until you feel better. It’s the Habistani way.


saskhab said...

Only 4 other teams have sub-.500 home records (points percentage, not winning %): Edmonton, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Washington.

Yeah, that's a crowd we really want to be a part of.

By your postscript there, are we assuming you're still in Stage 2?

The good news: The Canucks were a team that really sucked at home early in the year. Now they're pretty much unbeatable at GM Place.

We can turn it around. The Bell Centre crowd can forgive.

Kaz said...

Too bad the Canucks have the coach we should have kept...

hambown said...

Also a goaltender the Islanders or Panthers should have kept.

What is it with the Habs and the December slump? eh? eh? E?

E said...

saskhab- i go through all five stages pretty much every game these days. my version of 'acceptance' apparently doesn't last very long.

kaz- ?

hambown- actually, last year about this time the habs were gearing up for what would turn out to be their 2nd-longest run of consecutive wins all season, and had yet to lose two consecutive games. they didn't really tank until january...

Doogie said...

This reminds me of my Five Stages post after the Oilers lost the Finals. Except yours is funny.

Also, aren't the 'Canes one of those teams the Habs can never beat? (Just like the Bruins are one of those teams we never lose to.)