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Ulmer's Take On Habs Fans

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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There is a new poll out, not coincidentally on the very day the Leafs play the Canadiens in Montreal.

According to the good people at Ipsos Reid, one third of Canadians figure the Habs as Canada’s team. The Leafs are the next highest at 25 per cent.

The poll also indicated that forty per cent of Canadians think the Habs will break their 16-year Cup drought within the next five years and 50 per cent of those polls considered the Canadians the greatest team in hockey history.

I take this to mean there are more Habs fans than Leafs fans. And God knows, Hab fans are loyal. They are with their team win or tie.

I have no quarrel with the Montreal Canadiens. I have enormous respect for their 24 Stanley Cups. In the course of a book about Canadiens captains I met and interviewed Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Yvon Cournoyer and many more. The organization and its standardbearers deserve nothing but the highest respect.

It’s the fans I can’t stand. Those same fans people this nation in plague-like numbers.

Question: “How many Habs fans does it take to change a lightbulb?”
Answer: “Four. One to replace the bulb and three to talk about how great the old lightbulb was.”

It is a point of pride to Habs fans that the instant the team embarks on a prolonged journey down the wrong track, patrons will stay home. “We don’t support mediocrity,” they will sniff.

Heaven knows, that worked splendidly for the Expos.

The Habs glorious history is more millstone than stepping stone. Invariably, today’s players are compared to those long gone. Three goals in a win should have been five, or six or seven.

Invariably, Habs fans trot out the club’s winning history but they ignore their current 16-year drought. “Better than 41 years,” they retort.

Yes, it is. “But how many years must elapse for both droughts to seem equally grievous. Failure at 16 years or failure at 42 is still failure. The difference is measurable only in degree.

Fans and their acolytes in the media, take the fun out of Montreal.

Sparked in the Francophone press, the question of ethnicity distorts lineup decisions by elevating ordinary players - hello Guillaume Latendresse - into demigods. Habs fans often chanted “Guy”, for Latendresse thus linking Latendresse with Guy Lafleur. That’s like according Matt Stajan the same adulation as the player who made his 14 famous: Dave Keon.

So who needs a reality pill here?

By noting more Canadians favour the Habs, the survey’s authors say there are more Canadiens fans scattered around the country.

That’s probably true. If you go back far enough, you will find the Canadiens a very successful franchise and that spillover is bound to influence a survey.

It’s human nature to gloat at past successes and boast of more to come.

It’s just a little unseemly to be constantly patting yourself on the back when your team’s hasn’t won since the final days of the Brian Mulroney era.
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