September 30, 2009

Guest Post - Life on the Other Side

My man Drew, aka LloydtheBarber, holds it down over at Ghostrunner on First. It is, in his words: "Blue Jays Detritus from OPS to OMG." It's also prolific. If you haven't been reading his work, your 2009 Toronto Blue Jays season has been a lot worse than mine. It's quality writing as found on Ghostrunner that makes following the Blue Jays, with heart and soul, a little less painful.

Drew also happens to be a Montreal Canadiens fan. And he's agreed to opine on life on the other side of a rivalry that only seems to get better. Ladies and gentlemen, Drew:

If you are in any way familiar with my baseball work, you'll probably agree that I'm one of the least sentimental guys around. I don't care for celebrating old victories or varnishing near misses or Pyrrhic triumphs for the greater good. Additionally, I don't give a good God damn about the CFL or the CBC or the Tragically fucking Hip or any other arcane Canadiana foisted upon the great people of this great land every day of the week. To me it seems abundantly clear we live in a very different world; let's all move on and celebrate the next victory, the next triumph rather than resting on our increasingly distant past.

How very progressive of me, no? Except for one thing: it all goes out the window when it comes to the institution that is the Montreal Canadiens.

In no other pursuit in life do I longingly gaze to the past more frequently than excitedly looking to the future. Nowhere else will I make excuses and turn a blind eye to unfair historical advantages (All Your Francophones Are Belong to Toe); nowhere else will I covet the past so tightly and appreciate the way the team continues to pay homage to the glory days.

I was born and raised in Southern Ontario, a young Leafs fan because I didn't know any better. One ill-fated trade later and I was a Habs fan. Things are simple when you're a kid. "I like Russ Courtnall, he plays for Montreal now, I guess I like Montreal." I was just in time for Cup runs and Forum crowds. I moved seamlessly from St. Patrick versus the hated Bruins to Jeff Hackett and the realignment to 8 games a year with the local Leafs, the team we love to (and have to) hate. I take it all in stride because my fandom is unwavering, neither up nor down.

I take the good with the bad, the incredible third jerseys alongside Mario Trembley. I remember Pierre Turgeon with nothing but fondness thanks to his participation in the Forum closing festivities. I long for the return of Sheldon Souray and believe implicitly in Carey Price. On the baseball diamond I resent the business of fetishizing "grit and heart" but I spent years arguing I'd rather have Saku Koivu over Vinny Lecavalier.

Judging by that last statement, you'll see I'm unlike many Habs fans. I will not turn my back on the players on the ice at the first inkling of underperformance. Habs are Habs, and I support them all the same. Be they Stephane Richer, Patrice Brisbois, or Chris Higgins. I'm sure I'll come around on Gomez and Gionta or whichever undersized speed guy is next in Gainey's sights. I don't comb through the team news minutiae or rosterbate the night away because it just doesn't bring me the same pleasure that simply watching the Trois Couleurs fly around the ice and listening to the Beer/Telecom Centre crowd does every single time.

The allure of the mildly exotic and the built-in rivalry with my Leaf-loving friends hooked me early on and continues paying dividends today. One game in Montreal and you'll see. The wall of red shirts and Export cups, the biting, smoke filled air around the arena and the sense of something bigger than the game at hand and you’re lucky just being there to take it all in.

Since my gracious host asked for a season preview and I've wasted far too many words trying to explain what it feels like to be Habs fan, here is my thing with the Habs in 2009/10: they'll either compete or they won't. They'll be good or they'll get crushed.

I’m sure it will be a swell year. The Habs will battle the Leafs and Sens for the final “playoff” spot as French-Canadian hands are wrung so tightly you’ll see the smoke from 40 Bay Street. To be honest, I don't really care. Being a Habs fan (for me) means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The only thing I know for sure: those 8 games connected by the 401 make the entire miserable winter worth while.


Pension Plan Puppets said...

You didn't need to explain your aspotasy. It would have been clear once you said that you were a Habs fan and it was written in complete sentences.

Seriously though, that was a great post.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Uhhh I should have written apostasy correctly...damn.

Now I need more for this comment...

One game in Montreal and you'll see. The wall of red shirts and Export cups, the biting, smoke filled air around the arena and the sense of something bigger than the game at hand and you’re lucky just being there to take it all in.

I've been once to the Forum and once to the Bell Centre. The former was much more enjoyable than the latter but the atmosphere was great. There's nothing like Leafs-Habs on a Saturday night.

eyebleaf said...

I had to go to the dictionary aspostasy. You bastard. But I whole heartedly agree: this was fantastic. Respect, Drew.

I've been to one game in Montreal. Bell Centre. It was fucking fantastic. The crowd was unbelievable. We had a few drunken cats behind us, or right next to us, one of the two. After spilling some beer on my buddy, the guy turned to my friend and said: "Sorry about the beer, but did you see that FUCKING save?" And, in the process, spit all over him. Hilarity. As for the game, the Leafs won 6-0. Jonas Hoglund had a had-trick. Yeah.

bkblades said...

So, the Kordic for Courtnall trade had far more implications than DGB would admit. Great.

Archimedies said...

It should be a rule that LTB has to write guest posts for every website that I read.

eyebleaf said...

@ BK: Who knew, eh?

@ Archi: You started this gangster shit, and this (more LTB) the mother fuckin thanks you get.

Archimedies said...


I can't believe that we were one trade away from having LTB in the Barilkosphere?

Could you imagine GRoF posts about the Buds? I'd die of overstimulation.

Moneypuck said...

I find that ball fans tend to be more logical than hockey fans, just due to the way the two seperate games are.

Baseball is a slow game, with time to think and analyze between every pitch, in hockey you can really get caught up in the emotions and pace of the game.

I have the Habs in 6th bur they could finish out of a spot.

eyebleaf said...

@ Archi: So true. Russ Courtnall. Oh, what could have been. And speaking of overstimulation, "rosterbate" is definitely one of my new favourite words. (Nicely done, Drew.)

@ Moneypuck: That's exactly what I love about both games. As I've grown older, I've become more and more fond of baseball. I appreciate it. And I'm just going to take that as a sign of getting older, and getting wiser. Less emotion, more critical thinking. Some bullshit like that.

And I think Montreal misses the playoffs. I'm seeing another epic meltdown from Carey Price, and completely understand Drew's implicit belief in him. (The Leafs make the dance, of course. Led by Komisarek.)

Bitey said...

I went to a few games at the Forum.

One was a Leafs/Habs game when I was about 9 or so. My dad and I sat 8 rows (I think) behind the net and in the warm-ups, some guy a few rows behind us got hit in the head with a puck and bled everywhere, so I was scared the rest of the game any time the play came down to that end.

Also, before the game, I went over and got Ron MacLean's autograph. He signed it 'To Kim' (my name is Tim) so I think he thought I was a girl. That was good for my little kid self-esteem.

The Ack said...

I'm a veteran of my beloved Winnipeg Arena, and I've been to neither the Forum, nor the Bell Centre, nor the ACC, nor the Gardens, so I don't have much of anything relevant to add.

I will, however, regale you with a tale of my visit to the Nassau County Coliseum:

Took in a playoff game (Isles vs Lightning) while in town on business, the year the Lightning won the Cup. Tampa was pasting the Isles, and while I didn't have a vested interest in either team, the 3 or 4 beers in me spurred me to stand up from my spot in the cheap seats, and yell:


You know, just for fun.

Of course, my compadres were mortified that I would call out the GM in front of the locals, but to our delight, slowly but surely, the entire section around me picked up and joined in on hurling abuse at MM & throwing the giveaway towels towards ice level.




It was fantastic. I'd like to think that I accomplished something that night.

Anonymous said...

Down Goes Brown is liveblogging Leafs-Habs for on Thursday night, by the way


Mattt said...

Sorry Drew, but il not seeing a great season from the Habs. Go Leafs!¡

eyebleaf said...

Helluva couple of stories there, boys. Love it. And The Ack, you did accomplish something that night in my books.

Way to plug the live bloggage Scott., yo. Bookmark that shit.

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