Heart > Head

You guys, we play the Leafs today.

It’s one of those four point games. Since this is not a “hockey site” and you may be one of my readers who knows not about hockey (i.e. you’re a close personal friend/family member that I force to read this blog through pressure/annoyance, i.e. “have you read it yet? have you read it yet? haveyoureadityet haveyoureadityethaveyoureadityeeeet) – loosely, a 4-point game means that we’re playing another team in our conference who will gain 2 points in the standings and we’ll lose the chance for 2 points, or vice versa. And the spread will be bigger. Or that much tighter. I think. This concept has always confused me. All I know is we have to win. And by we, I mean the Habs. The goddamn Leafs are barely clinging to a playoff spot so a Habs win is crucial.

Why do I even care right now. I’ve been talking myself out of caring. I claim that I don’t care anymore but it’s not true. My head tells my heart to stop. But the heart wants what it wants. Especially my heart. My heart’s ambitions have always been lofty.

This crazy season has given us all so much agita that last week, I finally decided to give in and give up on this season. And I have never ever been one of those fans…you know, the analytical fans whose brains do their thinking for them, who matter-of-factedly start predicting that the Habs won’t even make the playoffs not after game one, not after game 10, but the July before the NHL season even starts, and smugly remind us after every single loss that we won’t make the playoffs, even after some wins, because we may have won but we made bad mistakes and we will never, ever make the playoffs.

The Habs are 9 points out of 8th place and it’ll never happen. There are only 26 games left in the season and it’s like, we have to win ALL of them to have a chance. Who’s ever heard of that? Give up, dummies.

But…what if we do it? Is it even possible? Anything is possible. Crazier things have happened. I mean, in the movies. Remember Hoosiers? If you don’t, that means you’re too young and I just dated myself so forget I said anything. But I mean, we’re talking about a team that’s been out and out of all hope a lot of times this season just to come back and say “don’t count us out yet you guys” too many times. Or at least, that’s how my heart interprets it.

Like when we were losing and losing and losing and we were all pulling our hair out and screaming for the coach’s head and then he finally got fired, and then we got a new coach, a “unilingual anglophone” coach, whose inability to communicate en français became a huge political distraction and fodder for hockey columnists on both sides of the debate for weeks, but we finally got a different coach and then…kept losing.

We won a couple then we lost a bunch, even got blanked by the Jets, but then we beat Ottawa 6-2, actually scoring big in a game for the first time in forever, but then we lost a pair in Florida and then…Ellervation.

That beautiful game when we beat the Jets 7-2, and Lars Eller scored THREE goals and then another, on a penalty shot that really should have been in a movie, a little spin-o-rama move on the goalie that ended up in a backwards somersault over the goalie and we were all cheering our brains out. We even won the next one. We were streaking!!

And then we lost and lost and lost, and one of our players made some snotty and irresponsible remarks about the team “off the record” but you and I both know that he’s a smart guy and knew the remarks would get back to his teammates, and that created a whole other brouhaha in the media, because we all know that Montreal needs more drama, and his poor teammates had to explain themselves and deal with all the maelstrom created by this brat rather than focus on their play…and then he was spectacularly gotten rid of, mid-game, the very next day. Movie-worthy. A lot of people hated how it went down, but I was all for it. I’ve played on teams before and although we’ll never know for sure what went on in that locker room when that guy was around, any guy who talks like that about his team to outsiders has to go. Has to. I don’t care how talented he is – this is not a team player. And go he did.

And then we lost.

And then we beat the Rangers! You guys! And then we lost and lost and then we beat the Leafs! And then in our last game before the All Star Break we beat Detroit, and not just beat them but crushed them. Mincemeat. Humiliation styles.

And all of a sudden, the season that had been dismissed by all had hope again. We beat practically the best team in the league. And Carey shone in the All Star breakaway competition, becoming everybody’s darling, as if he wasn’t already.

And then we lost and lost and you get the point. I gave up. I finally gave up. It’s way easier to expect nothing, and even the worst, because then you don’t get disappointed or heartbroken when the worst does happen. Because I live for my team that much. I couldn’t bear the thought of the inevitable heartbreak, so I decided to be cold. But of course even though I gave up and resigned myself to a looooong summer and not giving a crap about hockey or the Habs, I still watched. As if I’m not watching my team. I still wore my jersey on Saturdays, despite derision and sneering from Vancouver fans everywhere, and I still had my “Habs fan on board” sign in the rear window of my car. It’s up year-round.

And then we won. And then again. And again. Three in a row???

And all of a sudden, we’re the “hottest team in the East”. Despite our spot in the standings. And you know, mathematically, we’re still in it. And you know, that thing that all Leafs fans have been used to for nearly a decade, their team missing the playoffs, and have been dreading all season, is a big probability, so why can’t we just consider that the Habs making the playoffs is not just a possibility but totally doable?

I’m going to do it. I’m going to hope. Because that hope, and feeling your feelings, and that twisting I’m already feeling in my stomach for that game that’s 6 hours away, is actually kind of delicious. In that masochistic delicious way. I’ve even convinced myself that I’d rather have this nauseous queasy excitement than be, say, a Canucks fan, where you already know your team will make the playoffs and the rest of the season is a mere formality.

I’d rather ride this rollercoaster game by game and enjoy the ride and hope and cross my fingers and toes and all that stuff. I’m going to stop protecting my heart.

And that’s actually the brain and the heart speaking.



  1. wait a minute! You completely changed your mind during the blog. It went from Habs suck and I’m out to blind faith that a miracle would happen. Well, good for you – at least you’re not a Canucks fan, since they delight in pulling the football out from under their fans (a la Charlie Brown) and leave them cursing while the Canucks get an early start on the golf season (or go all the way and then lose stupidly).


    • Noooooo I never said “Habs suck” – I said I couldn’t take anymore that they weren’t making the playoffs. But I never stopped watching, and deep down inside, hoping. I’m just out-of-the-closet hoping now…not blind faith either. Just finger-crossing and wishing hope. Look – crazier things have happened! 🙂


  2. I say this every time and I’ll say it again, you’ve got a great writing style.
    I’m one of those who stay on board until the numbers say it: no playoffs, no trophy, no nothing. (is that a phrase? No nothing?) Tend to take some shots for it (yes, the alcohol kind, too), but I don’t care. The Habs are in a tough stretch now but they’ll come through it. Can’t do anything else but cheer them on in the meantime. And getting mad and frustrated from time to time is a part of it. I’m happy being THAT fan rather than the one who insists on being right about what the team coulda/shoulda/woulda done throughout the year.


  3. ohai
    thanks for splaining what is 4-point game. i once saw hockee game an there was ice and people wit sticks and a little black dot and i chased the dot all over the tv and then it went in dis net and all the people cheered hooray! it was fun kthnxbye!


  4. I was a Blues fan, Never have won the cup since 1966 when they were founded, however, look at the Cardinals. They were 10 1/2 games out and came back to win it all, so it can happen. Keep the heart hopeful and the fingers crossed.


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