Middle Age, Flowers, Mussolini and the Montreal Canadiens

Bullet points. Topics all over the place this time.

  • I had another birthday, and my son came home this week from school, bursting with the news that he’d learned in Science that middle-aged people who look much younger live really long lives! 
  • Middle aged? Nice. Reminds me of the time that my daughter started a sentence with, “Mom, when you were in school in the olden days…” and my son stood up for me and said, “Hey! It wasn’t the olden days!!” and she sighed and said, “Olden days, golden days, whatever.”
  • The bf brought me flowers, and they’re now super wilty but I don’t want to throw them away. I love when he brings me flowers, but every time I have to throw them out, I want to cry. Sap.
  • It took three bullet points before mentioning the Habs. I was there, with the bf, for the Bruins game April 6th in Montreal. Not gonna really break down the whole visit, but I saw a lot of awesome friends again, and the Habs won. More on them later.
  • Oh, one thing about the Montreal visit was we absolutely had to go visit a church in Little Italy, as directed by the bf’s family matriarch, that reportedly houses a portrait of Mussolini on a horse. Okay. So we rented a car to see the city because we didn’t have a lot of time to cover a lot of ground and it was way cheaper than catching cabs, and although the initial plan was to walk everywhere, Arctic weather and ears that were about to fall off precluded that. So we got our car and got the tip of which church it was, on Henri-Julien, so I plugged it into my GPS app and we were off. It was a horrible afternoon of traffic in Montreal and my stupid app took us down St-Denis, which we now know was a terrible idea. We were stuck on that street for freaking ever, the bf was dying of hunger as he does whenever he hasn’t eaten in two hours, then we got on a “freeway” that was so congested that we both were saying that this stupid church had better be worth it, and then we were finally a block away from our destination, and I looked down the street and said, “Um, I don’t see a church.” So, that’s because I directed us to SAINT JULIEN instead of Henri-Julien and we were somewhere in Montreal Nord instead of anywhere close to Little Italy. That was a funny storynot. We finally made our way to the correct street and the first order of business was getting some minestrone before the bf expired, and then we went to the church.
  • It was closed, but it was really pretty from the outside. I said we’d laugh about it later, and we did.
  • Another thing about that trip was the flight back home. We had an 8:30am flight, you take what you get when you book on points, and were on no sleep. We had a layover in Edmonton, and after sleeping the whole way there, we were descending and as we were about to touch down, I opened the window and saw miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of snowy prairie. The bf said, “Close it, close it!” Poor Edmonton. Had an unexpected extra hour there so we had a steak and salad at the airport. I was talking to our server and I asked what the temperature was out there, and he said, “Who cares? Look at it. It’s April.” Sums it up.
  • The Edmonton/Vancouver flight started off with sitting down and hearing this adorable little voice in the seat behind me chirping away. Super cute little girl. For a while. She kept on saying, “Mommy, I need dinner!” Crash. Down goes the table on the back of my chair. “Mommy, I’m not hungry!” Thunk. Up goes the table on the back of my chair. “I need dinner!” Crash. “I’m not hungry!” Thunk. “Dinner!” “Not hungry!” Crash. Thunk. Crash, thunk. Crash-thunk-crash-thunk-crash-thunk and I was thinking, this isn’t going to END WELL!!!!!! And then her mother mercifully put a movie on for the child and I didn’t have to kill anyone. But she was really cute.
  • Okay, so the Habs. Here’s the thing. They’ve had a craptastic week. But they’re in the playoffs, having ensured a post-season 10 days before any of the other teams that only got theirs last night. And they’re still in 1st place in their division. And second in the East, only to the Penguins. And the “fans” are planning mass suicides all over the place. I want to scream.
  • Oh, there’s a little birdie on my deck checking out the birdhouse I have out there for show because I keep it empty on account of once I had birdseed in a shed at my old house and when I went to check it, there was a dead rat in the bag. Sorry, birdie. I hate rats more than I like birds.
  • So anyway, the idiot fans at the Bell Centre last night were booing our team that lost to the Capitals. Ovechkin was saying after the game that the Habs have a good team, and they’d already clinched their playoff spot, and they’re saving themselves for the playoffs. I happen to agree with this. It sucks to watch us lose, but we’ve been treated to so much good hockey this season, winning so much that I kind of started missing losing, because losing makes winning more delicious, and winning just got to be a given. Then they clinched the playoff spot that so many Montreal fans with crystal balls had said was unattainable this year before even watching a single game. These are the “fans” that have been waiting all season for an implosion just so they can smugly tell us all that this was what they’d told us would happen.
  • All the morons abusing Carey Price on Twitter are stupid not only because they don’t know how to spell, but they’re idiots because they actually think Carey is checking Twitter.
  • I was watching the locker room interviews this morning. One reporter didn’t even get to finish his, “Are you worr-” question before Carey cut him off and said, “No.” Like he went on to say, there is a far bigger picture than what has happened since by the way they clinched their goddamned playoff spot last week and wildly exceeded all expectations on this season after finishing in LAST PLACE last year and everyone can just shut the hell up. Paraphrasing.
  • Here’s what’s gonna happen. The Habs couldn’t care less who they’re seeing in Round 1, as opposed to every fan who’s quaking in his/her boots over the possibility of playing the Leafs. They may even start on the road, which would be fitting, since the faction of “fans” who can do nothing but abuse the team, and particularly Carey Price, after an amazing record this season, don’t deserve to be treated to games 1 and 2 at home. And then, the Habs are gonna light it up, and sweep whomever they meet in the first round, and the bandwagonners will hop back on and then, if the Habs win the Cup, I hope Carey takes it and shoves it up their collective butts.
  • I wish I had opinions about things.
  • We’re going to Florida to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, which around here lately is pronounced as all one word. Thewizardingworldofharrypotteratuniversalstudios. Who books a holiday outside of Canada during the first round of the NHL playoffs? This genius. I’ve been assured I will be able to see the games down there. If not, there’s an app for my iPad, right? Advice welcome.
  • My daughter’s class is doing reports on famous Canadians, and she’s doing hers on Jean Beliveau. They were given a list of Canadians to choose from, and she chose Joni Mitchell until her mother almost had a stroke then changed her mind to Jean Beliveau, because she wants to stay in the family. Now, she’s fretting about filling the 500-word requirement. Is this teacher kidding? I’d use more than that in just the introduction. This post has already exceeded 1300 and I haven’t really said anything!
  • I love Joni Mitchell too, don’t get me wrong.
  • We went  to tour the Bell Centre in Montreal on game day. We didn’t get in to the locker room, which was what I MOST wanted to see, but they don’t show the locker room on game days, understandably. Do you know why? Because staff brings the team’s equipment from Brossard where they practice and dries it out in the locker room, cranking the heat up to 50 degrees. That’s celsius, U.S. friends, and that’s HOT. Like, Egypt-hot. Must smell wonderful.
  • So we were in the Bell Centre, and got to see the Alumni Room, where any retired Hab can go to eat and watch the game or just have beers and play cards, whenever they want, for life. There’s a couch in there that’s exclusively for Mr. and Mrs. Beliveau. I’m making sure my daughter puts that in her report.
  • I went to Costco yesterday, noon on a Saturday, and the parking lot was absolutely insane, but I scored a spot that was right there by the front doors. Manifesting rock-star parking always precedes wonderfully good luck for me. Which is why I know the Habs are going to be great in the playoffs. Book it.

Speaking of noon, it’s now noon here and that means the kids are up and I have to go. Everybody have a great day and week! I will!

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The List

Happy almost-end-of-January. I did that thing again where I jotted down mini-topics on my Notes app on my iPhone for purposes of a blog post.

  • I have a Macbook Air. And since I’m on iCloud, whenever I send myself reminders on my iPhone, whenever I open up the laptop, there’s a pop-up there too, with the reminder I saved on my phone. Just now when I opened it up, it told me, “GET TP!!!” Thanks, laptop. We’re all good now though!
  • I haven’t logged in here for a few weeks. I checked my Stats page, 0 views today. Sometimes, I’ll have 1 or 2 views, even on days when I haven’t posted in a long time. You know whose those views those are? My daughter’s. She checks here. She says she likes it, but that I use the D-word too much. Then don’t read the damned blog, kid!
  • Just kidding. I love you. But I get to use the D-word because I’m a grown-up. You don’t.
  • I’m not really a grown-up. I’m old, but I’m not a grown-up. My one friend, Kerry, once sent me a New Yorker piece on how the grown-up has gone the way of the dodo. And I was just catching up with my PVR and saw Billy Connolly on Strombo who was saying the same thing. He says he doesn’t care about growing up, that it’s usually someone else’s suggestion. “You have to grow up!” George asked him how he responds to that. Billy: “Two words.” I often wait for that magical moment when I’m grown up. And often ponder things that way, like, “When I’m grown up,” this, or “When I’m grown up,” that. The possibilities are endless, and I’m really looking forward to it.
  • Sidebar: Not having hockey meant I watched other stuff on TV, and had the time to. Usually my PVR gets full of shows I’ll never watch on account of hockey. I love New Girl, Happy Endings, and Nashville. Like, love/love. Who knew there were shows on TV from October to April? I don’t watch reality TV though. But I do love talk shows. I love how the hosts always sit to the right of the screen, because if I were a guest on a talk show, they would get my right profile which is 2000% better than my left. If I hosted my own show, I’d have them switch the set around. These are things I think about sometimes.
  • My Facebook, which I don’t use much, has quotes from my kids in the About Me – Quotes part, or whatever it’s called. When my son was about six, on my birthday, he said, “So, Mom, you’re (confidential age) now, right?” And I said, “Yeah.” Then he said, “But you’re still a teenager though.” And I replied, “No, I’m a grown-up.” And he actually snorted, and said, “Yeah, right.” That’s under my Quotes. My About Me just says: “Kind of a pain.”
  • I just chose the categories for this blog post. Bold move, since I haven’t even really started it yet. One of the categories I have there is “Other Sports.” That’s ridiculous. What other sports are there? None that are written about here.
  • Wait, I blogged a couple of times about the World Cup when Chile was playing. So that’s why.
  • I switched the format around on this blog and lost all my widgets. Why do I ever try things.
  • I haven’t even started my topics list yet. I win for seriously being able to write about nothing. Okay, here we go.
  • The Habs played their first game of the “season” last Saturday. As you know, faithful readers…reader (dear Daughter), I was very much angry with the NHL and the players for putting us through 3 months of unnecessary pain by not playing hockey. I still tuned in but wasn’t excited. I still tuned in, but didn’t care. Actually, when they started training camp, the Habs announced that Scott Gomez, that black-eye of a bloated contract for a non-productive player, would not be back. He’d get paid his 5.5 million dollars to sit out the “season” and then get bought out.
  • Sidebar: This got me to thinking, I could totally devote a blog post to what I would do if I was offered FIVE POINT FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to NOT show up to work. It’s equivalent to winning the lottery. But that would be a short, boring post. I would probably still go to the office. What else am I going to do while the kids are at school? Besides, I love the people at my office.
  • So anyway, when Marc Bergevin announced that Gomez would not be back in a Habs jersey again, I thought, “Well played. You just got my interest again.” Look, by all accounts, Gomez is a swell guy, super well-loved by his teammates and everything like that. No one said he was a bad guy. And no one can blame the guy for signing a contract like that on the dotted line. And had he been a scorer, I might not have cared about all that money. Let’s face it: no one can actually claim they earn that kind of money. That’s ridiculous. I can’t even imagine what you actually could do to earn that money. Perhaps deserve it, which is slightly different.
  • Sidebar: I hate Oprah. And I hate Lance Armstrong. I have never been able to stand that guy. No real reason. People thought he was some kind of hero because he won bike races, and survived cancer and then raised a bunch of money for it. But I still couldn’t stand him. Actually, here’s why: All I really knew about him is he kept dumping the women in his life. And he would dump them and immediately be in a new, serious relationship. Which meant that he was already cheating with the new one while he was still with the old one. To have a double-life like that, you have to be an accomplished liar with little conscience. So I couldn’t stand him, even when everyone around me all loved him and wore his rubber bracelet. Then all this stuff about his colossal cheating came out, and I felt validated for always hating the guy.
  • I don’t like Oprah either. That ego astounds. And all the people who worship her, that’s crazy too. I never really thought about her one way or the other, and always watched her show, because she had great guests, and would just roll my eyes every time she’d be in what would be for her guest, a serious, intense conversation, but Oprah would always be checking herself out in the monitor. Whatever. But what got me was when once she was being interviewed for the 10th anniversary of her show, and the interviewer brought up how she was worth $6 billion dollars or whatever INSANE figure it was. And, I’m not joking, she replied, with a very straight face: “And I’ve earned every penny.” ARE YOU SERIOUS? Oh, she was as serious as a heart-attack. I never took her seriously again.
  • So, when everyone asked if I was going to watch the Lance/Oprah show, I was like, “Lance. And Oprah? Yeah no.” The only time I ever liked Oprah was when she interviewed Stephen Colbert. And even then I didn’t really like her, I just love Colbert. I know my feeling about Opes is super unpopular. Actually, she did do one really good thing for me: It’s fun to say stuff like she does. Like when she says, “Please welcome, my friend John TRAVOLTAAAAAA!” One of my besties and I did that on a road trip. Like, “We’re going to TARGEEEEEET!” or “Let’s go to STARBUUUUUUCKS!” This was in the morning. We are both morning people. Our other bestie was super irritated.
  • Hi, Lisa! I’m finding a way to mention you in every post.
  • 1173 words in and I’ve strayed from my list. So anyway, I tuned in to watch the game. But it was preceded by a big, big, BIG opening ceremony. Hall of Famers carrying the torch in the Bell Centre, like Henri Richard (I met him once, and his big brother, and they signed my jersey!!), Jean Béliveau and Yvan Cournoyer (and Vinnie Damphousse??? Um, okay.). It was an opening ceremony to end all opening ceremonies. Do the Habs ever know how to give opening ceremony. And all over Twitter, I saw tweets about how everyone was crying. And I was sitting there with my arms crossed, hmmphing. Like, wooooow, these guys were really trying hard, here. I was 100% unmoved. Had they done this when they were supposed to, in October, I would have been blubbering like a baby. But not this way, not in January, when the season is supposed to be half over. Not when, apparently, the idea was we were all supposed to act like the previous 3 months didn’t just happen. I was bitter, and I wasn’t buying it. Okay, I really loved how Carey was the last person with the torch, looking up and chewing gum. What a boss. I was excited to finally watch a game however, but didn’t even watch the whole thing because I had to leave. And they were losing to the Leafs. In a former life, during a normal season, losing, to the LEAFS, would have ruined my evening. I didn’t care, and had a really awesome evening.
  • But then at the next game my Andrei Markov scored twice, and then at the next one scored again, and Itotallylovethemagainandcan’twaittilthenextgame.
  • Michelle Obama got these great new bangs, right when I’ve finally grown mine out. I fail at trends.
  • Let’s get started on that list.
  • No, it’s too long, and I have to go pick up my daughter from a sleepover soon. I’ll keep adding to it and save it for next time.

It’s Not Me, It’s You

I haven’t posted on this topic since the NHL lockout was announced to have ended on Sunday, in part because I ceased to pay attention to every detail of the “negotiations” since about day 3o of the lockout. So I don’t know absolutely everything about the eventual agreement that was reached, and how, and I do have fear of being denigrated for not being as savvy about it as others who are well-versed.

But this isn’t about that. It’s not about the lockout, or the clash of the millionaires on either side and everything involved. It’s about how I don’t know how to even express how I feel about this.

One of the things I’ve always known to be true about myself is how much I love my team and love to watch them play. And right now, I just don’t care. I don’t care that they’re coming back, and I don’t care when, and I’m not even paying attention to when exactly that will be, and not caring about what should be paramount, which is, are the Habs coming to Vancouver this year? And WHEN.

I don’t. Care.

I was reading about Jimmy Kimmel and how he’s moving to a different time-slot now, in direct competition with Letterman and Leno. Kimmel’s funny. Super funny. I like that guy. Anyway, there was an article about how Jimmy lost respect for Leno, and it made a reference to some book detailing the Late Night war. And my mind wandered, as it does, to thinking, I would totally read a book, cover-to-cover, about this lockout and all the machinations, all the players (not player/players, but participants), and naming the villains and holdouts. But then it occurred to me, that book will never be written, not even by Julia Phillips, whom I’m pretty sure never did Eat Lunch in That Town Again. You know why? This mafia is even more nefarious than Hollywood power players, Bada Bing investors and the Genco Pura Olive Oil combined. Okay, perhaps that’s overly dramatic. But you know what? I’m hurt.

OMG, can you imagine if that book gets written? Calling out AND quoting Fehr, and Bettman?? The best, Jerry, the BEST.

At my work, and I’m sure, at yours, pay is commensurate with performance and expectations, in many measures, be they salary, perks, benefits, bonuses, etc., ad nauseum. If I don’t do my goddamned job, I don’t have one anymore. My own puppy doesn’t get her pig’s ear until she lies down and stays put like a statue until she hears, “Okay, go get it!”

Yes, I know the CBA is more complex than the rules of just your job or mine, or the rewards of a hyper 18-month old Lab. The point is, I couldn’t emotionally identify with the plight of the players in the lockout, which is the level of identification I’m required to attain when we’re talking sympathy. And make no mistake, I really easily sympathize with all KINDS of people, including the people with whom I may have absolutely nothing in common. Still, I also couldn’t put myself in the owners’ or Bettman’s shoes.

So on Sunday, I checked Twitter near midday, which I’d only sporadically been doing recently. And I learned, as we’d pretty much all been expecting, although I was hoping otherwise, that the lockout was “over,” details of the new CBA TBA in a matter of days, no specific timing available. Yay. Not yay. I’d actually hoped they wouldn’t come back now, maybe they’d come back next October, because what is the point of a 3-month season? Seriously. We all love watching hockey, but it’s ultimately all about the marathon.

I was bemused to see a lot of unbridled enthusiasm, a la, “Go Habs Go!” or “They’re back!” or “It’s over!” and I couldn’t join. Which I hadn’t been expecting, really. For all my bitterness, I deep-down still expected to flip the second the lockout ended. But I didn’t. I just kind of felt…pissed off. Like, what, we’re all supposed to be excited now? And it seems like a lot of you are? To be treated to likely 50% of a season we’re all deserving of? Us, the fans, who stick beside you even when you break our hearts? And look forward to playoffs and a Stanley Cup, the winner of which will be the butt of all jokes until the next lockout year? For real?

I once dated someone I was unreasonably in love with, and after a long, unreasonable while, I finally left the relationship. And moved far away. And after months of being better and figuring stuff out, the ex came back, and wanted me back, and called, wrote, left drunk voice messages, proposed, promised to lasso the moon, you name it. And this guy, whom I once couldn’t have imagined living without, simply didn’t move me. I was over it.

Not to liken a hockey team with a well-dodged bullet of a boyfriend, but I found myself feeling like that again on Sunday, no matter who was the bad guy in this lockout.

2013-01-08 10.23.20 pm

…and I just feel like, no. This isn’t working for me. It’s not me, it’s you. It’s totally you.

Still, I keep expecting myself to snap out of it and feel excitement, but it’s not happening. It’s the oddest thing. The last time a lockout and demi-season happened, I was distracted by a rambunctious, exhausting 1 & 3-year-old team of offspring, the pursuit of which did not comply with CBA newsdays or an abbreviated hockey schedule. That season was a write-off for me and I was only irritated, and that feeling disappeared by the next regular season. I had way better things to do.

And it turns out, I still do. Hockey stopped, and the reasons for its suspension got too tiresome to deserve my attention. And the world still turned, and life was good. And it was kind of nice to have freedom in the middle of a Saturday afternoon, which is when the Habs used to have 3 hours of my time, no matter what else was going on. And then, all of a sudden, they’re coming back, and we have to jump up and down. Not feeling it.

Some of the players spoke out, looking forward to the season, thanking the “fans who had stuck by them and supported them.” That was nice. And then, the Habs brass called a press conference and graciously mentioned the fans. This was on TSN:

2013-01-08 10.52.59 pm

As-yet undecided gesture. Sketchy on details. I’ll admit it, I didn’t shed a tear.

At the end of the last regular season, the Habs ended in the basement and didn’t even make the playoffs. But I was still so excited about Bergevin and had such faith in Molson, and was so moved by the genius PR gesture of the Habs giving their jerseys to fans after their last game, that I DID shed a tear, and was super excited about October – notwithstanding the horribly disappointing and heartbreaking season we’d just seen.

I read this in the Montreal Gazette today:

2013-01-08 10.59.26 pm

Here’s the thing: isn’t every game important EVERY SEASON? Every game? Can you imagine if you went to work but decided only Tuesday and Friday would count? You know, sit and wait?

I’m still going to watch, let’s be real. Or you know what, maybe I won’t. Maybe I just think I will because I’m hardwired to do so. We’ll see. One tiny fan doesn’t matter to the NHL, I know, and it’s no kind of protest and is a ridiculous statement compared to say, a hunger strike, over things that actually matter. It’s not even a statement, actually.

Here’s who I’m relieved for: the journalists, and bloggers, who now will have more stuff to write about and be able to do their jobs again. The arena workers, including my little brother, who works at what we all still call GM Place. Sports bars. In Canada. Sports bars in the U.S. have probably been doing all right. And I’m happy that the players get to have a deal they consider to be fair. It’s all relative.

I still love my team, I always will. It will be nice to see Carey, P.K., Josh, Max, etc. again. But I’m not that girl (anymore). It is going to take some serious cartwheels to change my mind about this, hoop jumps, even. Let’s see what happens.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

I’ve been on a Stevie Nicks kick for about a week. You know how when you hear something you haven’t heard in a long time then go into a phase? Like that. It started when she was on American Idol last week or maybe the week before – she was “consulting” with the contestants. Whenever anyone else consults they look like an ass and it’s obvious they’re there as filler so Idol can greedily gobble up as much airtime as possible. Not so with Stevie. She cares. And she’s awesome.

I’ll bet you think this post is going to be about 30-year old music you probably haven’t even heard of and how ancient I am. It’s not. It’s about the Habs. Of course.

No matter what generation you’re from, there will be a point in your life when all the music you hear you think directly applies to you. Like, “Oh, my god, they looked into my soul, saw what that rat-bastard who said he loved me and would love me forever was saying and doing behind my back, and then they wrote this song.”

So it’s funny, but listening to Stevie, I started thinking – all of this applies to a very high-highs, low-lows, tumultuous relationship I’ve had for the past six months.  A heart-wrenching, sickening relationship. The kind that makes me laugh, and cry, and want to throw up from the anxiety.

My dysfunctional relationship with the Habs.

We all know that this season has been a write-off since about January, and although I claimed to hold onto hope and have faith in mes boys, I had that 1,000 pound rock in my stomach that knew otherwise.

“So you had a little trouble in town,
Now you’re keeping some demon down,
Stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my, stop draggin’ my heart a-round”

It’s totally what they did, although I’m sure it was unintentional. Get me hoping, like waiting-by-the-phone-waiting-for-it-to-frigging-ring hoping, lifting my hopes with decisive wins and stringing them all together like popcorn, only to send me crashing back down to earth when they decided my feelings didn’t matter anymore. Heart. Draggin’. All OVAH.

But during those moments when I realized everything the Habs were doing was not actually all about me, I got a little maternal and my heart just squished for them.

Imagine this bunch of guys, and the B.S. they’ve been put through by their fans, by the media, by management, coaches, everything – I can really only count maybe 3 or 4 games this year that I thought they were phoning it in. And I had admiration. I felt their hopes rise when their coach finally got canned about a season too late, and loved them as they stood by their new coach and fought hard for him. Under their new coach, they got to communicate and were also communicated to. They started scoring goals, lots. And enjoyed getting to score even when they had a lead. I was so happy for them.

They had a bunch of wins in a row then, for the first time in forever, and it felt like all we could do was win. And there came a point in the season when they had about 24 games left, and they could still make they playoffs if they kept streaking and won 17 out of 24 at least. I could tell they wanted it. My heart started hoping and believing they would do it. Seventeen.

But from the moment that I first laid
Eyes
on
him
all alone on the edge of
Seventeen

I remember that magic number.

Then we saw it dissipate before our very eyes. We were all fed up, screaming for a house-cleaning of monumental proportions, from the TOP DOWN GODDAMMIT, and just…what were they even waiting for? We’re talking about the “Yankees of Hockey” – and a franchise that had become a laughingstock. It was sickening and embarrassing. With the apologies for hiring an anglophone coach, who they pretty much cut off at the knees even before he coached his first game, by telling everyone he was temporary. Nice.

I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted that job. But take it he did, that Randy Cunneyworth, and despite the cries for his head and harrumphing over his lack of acceptable language skills, he held his head high, and even shyly tried out a brief French phrase when meeting his would-be lynch mob face-to-face: “Je suis tres content”. It was such a sweet phrase. He won me over. I was already on his side, truth be told – I always take the side of the guy who’s being treated shabbily. Always. Especially in this instance – he wants to coach these guys he cares about, but all anyone, or at least the squeakiest wheels, could talk about was the fact that he couldn’t speak French. I thought, and tweeted, that if I were Cunneyworth, I’d tell them all to shove their French up their butts and coach my team and do what was actually important – win games and communicate with the players. Not communicate with the media. What the hell was this? This was supposed to be about hockey. Then I’d take my last paycheque at the end of the year, flip everyone the bird (no I wouldn’t but I’d want to), and go get a better job in a different market.

And the rest of the NHL world was clapping with glee at another reason to make fun of us. The stupid language debate. And the team got behind their coach, with Carey even saying during interview something to the effect of, “gee, sorry I’m not francophone, I’m just trying to tend goal,” and the like.

It was not lost on me that some of the most derisive scoffers were Leafs fans. For a time, it appeared the Leafs were in a playoff position. And astoundingly, these fans of this team who had for the seven previous years not even made it to the post-season, and whose team had not won a Stanley Cup since the NINETEEN SIXTIES!! felt entitled to be in a position to look down their nose at us.

Hey Leafs fans, whatcha gonna do with that parade you were planning, btw? Maybe dress the Leafs like bunnies and call it an Easter parade.

After that inevitable, crushing game where we were finally officially mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it was just a couple of days until the Habs’ owner, the fully bilingual Geoff Molson, held a press conference and announced that the General Manager and Bob Gainey were leaving the organization. And he talked about the franchise. The storied franchise. And restoring it to glory. And doing right by the fans, the best fans in the sport. And about how winning is the only acceptable outcome; how simply qualifying for the playoffs is not the goal, the ultimate goal is the only prize; every season; no lesser standard can be accepted. The Cup. End of.

The speech, carefully delivered in both French and then English, gave me chills. It was brilliant.

Then I wanted to eat my own head when I heard the first question of the Q&A: have you decided that the ideal profile for the new GM be that he is bilingual?

Molson’s response made me want to leap out of my seat and fist pump in the air (but I couldn’t because I was listening in my car while driving to work but I screamed out a YAAAAHOOOO!) – “Um, um… la réponse est NON.” Of course, being in Québec it will be nice for the eventual selected candidate to speak French, but he carefully would not say it was a requirement. Just a nice-to-have. Lots of people listening on Twitter were saying he was being sneaky, and to read between the lines, but let’s not forget: this is the guy who gave his blessing to a “uningual anglophone” coach in this market; interim or not. I’m quite liking the cojones on this guy. And how many years have the Leafs been sucking in general, for example, and how long has Burke had his job? Molson basically gave his brass 2 seasons. Then he did what was right. AND, seemingly and genuinely (to me) listening to the fans. The guy opened a Twitter account, for god’s sake. He also made some veiled digs at the exiting GM, saying that the new one had to be an “excellent communicator.”  The last guy was not so much with the communicating. With anyone. And the dude was bilingual.

Now, all the names being bandied about since the presser thus far are French, but there has been no selection or announcement made by the Habs organization, and Molson made clear that the selection and process would be completely confidential – and refused to bow to the francophone-requirement questioning. “La priorité #1 est trouver la meilleure personne.”

Molson’s response to another question: ” The third element, which is difficult to quantify, that undying desire to win…at all costs.”

I’m crossing my fingers that they go out and find the best, most kick-ass person for the job. I don’t care if he speaks 14 languages, or only one. And I believe that this team, with so much character, who could have thrown in the towel weeks ago (hi Leafs), but have had a great few last games, even winning 5-2 tonight, have got the stuff now.

Markov is back.

Gionta will be back.

Carey is still focussed.

Pacioretty, Desharnais and Cole give us all reasons to celebrate.

Subban is developing beautifully.

And we could get a terrific draft pick!

Can you feel it? It’s just early days of Spring, but I smell October. I smell it. The old coach and the old, pasty GM devoid of any character or personality or affection for the team are GONE. There’s all kinds of possibilities now. And I can’t think that the core bunch of guys on this team, who continue to show that they care even in the twilight of this black season, will do anything but change things around for us.

Stand back, stand back!

Just 2 more games now. Last one’s against the Leafs. I don’t care about what the stats say or what the standings say – Saturday will be fun. And beating the Leafs will be VERY fun. I will continue to watch every second of hockey that the Habs have left.

And it’s going to be an exciting off-season too, non-hockey readers. Sorry. There will be blog posts.

The Habs + Habs Fans + Twitter = The Power of Love

So this is not supposed to just be a blog about just the Habs, but you guys – we just clinched our playoff spot last night so I think it’s safe to say that if I’m blogging these next few weeks, a lot/all of it will be about the Habs. OK? OK.

Last night’s game had been touted in preceding hours as “like a playoff game.” Yeah it was! Montreal played Chicago and treated us to nail-biting, near heart-attack action. Both teams were there for a very important 2 points – and 2 points for Montreal meant clinching a playoff spot.

This post isn’t meant to recap the game, but I will tell you that Price was outstanding, so was Crawford, it must be said. I was “watching” along with the fans on Twitter, and my timeline was going absolutely crazy-bananas. The game went to overtime and we were all freaking right out, and then…PK Subban scored another beautiful overtime winner. And the crowd at the Bell Centre – and Twitter – went WILD.

This was my summation on Twitter post-game:

Our team had just guaranteed their spot in the post-season, we were and still are so excited, but what brought the biggest smile to my face was how just after the goal, PK Subban went across the ice to go celebrate with his friend, Carey Price. This bromance has been growing all season and the fans love every minute of it! It occured to me it would be hilarious/adorable if someone made some video put to music about this moment.

And now enter the power of Habs fans passion, and the power of Twitter. A few minutes after that tweet, I got a reply from @kevin_falcon, fellow Habs fan:

…and then this:

…and then…

…I fell asleep. Despite my excitement. Look, I was really tired after getting up super-early and the excitement of the game must have also really taken its toll on me. Then again, it might be these new allergy pills I’m taking because springtime allergies are really kicking my butt this year, and this over-the-counter stuff is totally useless. “24-hour relief,” my eye. You guys: don’t fall for that line.

But when I got up this morning, I saw this!!

Don’t try to click the link on the picture. Click the video below.

This was way more than I could have hoped for, and other Twitter fans feel the same. Heck, you might even enjoy this if you’re NOT a Habs fan. Who doesn’t love a great love story?

So – Kevin Falcon, you rock in so many ways. Thanks for such a great job on the video, and for doing it so fast! You’re a magician! A genius!

Never underestimate the power of social media. And especially never underestimate the passion of a Habs fan.

Les Boys et Moi…One Magical February Evening

Haven’t blogged in nearly 2 months. You know how when you have that thing you have to do and then you don’t do it and the more you don’t do it the more you feel bad but you still don’t do it and then it just gets worse and worse? Blogging is like that for me. No one is obligating me to do it but I feel bad when I don’t do it. I actually have a reader or two. I feel better after just starting this paragraph. But I just didn’t have anything bloggable to share. Until now, I mean.

Guess what I did this week? I saw the Habs play in Vancouver. I mean, I was THERE. They only come here once per season and I’ve been to see them before but this time was really awesome. Really really truly.

The Habs were coming off a craptastic western road trip, losing in Edmonton to the crappy Oilers, and badly, and then losing at the much ballyhooed Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary. I mean, they got shut out. What a sad game that was to watch.

That is the reason I thought I was actually in for a treat when they stopped in Vancouver. The guys would definitely want to bring it after 2 such terrible games, and especially playing against the Canucks who have a great winning record. And especially in Vancouver, where Habs fans always (seem to) outnumber Canucks fans in the Vancouver arena.

I used to go to all the Habs games in Vancouver, and in fact was at the last game in Vancouver when the Habs won. In the year TWO THOUSAND. After that, they went on a losing streak when playing in Vancouver, and thankfully I missed 8 of those games because since having kids I could not afford to spend the outrageous sums demanded for ticket prices. And I’m talking the regular priced tickets, too.

But for the past few years, I’ve had a generous benefactor who makes sure I can go see the Habs when they play here, giving me tickets either for Christmas or my birthday, etc. Isn’t that awesome? And a good thing too, since the past 2 times the Habs played here before this year, they lost badly, in particular last year, they lost REALLY badly. Glad I never paid for those games. It was embarrassing, sad and awful to be surrounded by Canucks fans who jeered at me all game, then jeered at me for the days that followed.

The hate for the Habs is an interesting phenomenon, and the hate for Habs fans more so (for me). I mean, every team has douchey fans but I’m certainly not one. But the fascination of cheering against the Habs and then going out of one’s way to make Habs fans feel miserable always bemuses me. I would not want to make a fan feel bad when their team is doing badly or their team has just lost a game, because I know how awful it already feels for that fan. You know? I mean, Evil Canuck Fan Co-Worker excepted, as he is such a specific breed of evil that when I get a chance to take a dig at him, I probably will about half of the time. But I don’t enjoy it. I mean, I do a little.

It started in November, when I got my tickets. My friend from Twitter, known as @TheAbraxasCo, and I got our tickets, club seats no less, for the game in February. That’s a long time to wait, but we were excited-excited-excited. When the year turned, I started counting down the weeks, then the days. Getting to see my boys in person, and this time with a fan as rabid as I (the past couple of years I went with Canucks fans – never again) was something that had me giddy! I didn’t care how they’d done in Edmonton and Calgary, I was going to be there with them and had a good feeling.

So, it got to be Tuesday, February 22nd in Vancouver. The boys were here in town, I could feel them. I had a lot of work to do at the office that day, and I mean loads, and it was so hard to concentrate I can’t even describe it.

The work day finally came to an end and I went to meet @TheAbraxasCo at our customary place for a pre-game drink (or two); where we always watch Habs games together when we can. We were both excited and looking forward to a win. This is what I love about her: she’s my kind of Habs fan, not the kind who bitches and moans and predicts a loss and that we’re not contenders and won’t even make the playoffs. No. She’s optimistic, and the eyes shine with visions of a win, no contemplation of another scenario, and plus she LOVES our boys, never ever doubted Carey, etc. Peas in a pod.

We made our way to Rogers Arena to be in place for the pre-game warmup. The air was electric, and on the way we saw just as many Habs’ jerseys as Canucks’.  I’ve had the good fortune of being able to go to lots of NHL games here, but nothing, nothing, NOTHING compares to the atmosphere when the Habs are in town. NOTHING. We wait for this day once a year, like Christmas, or your birthday, but it’s SO MUCH BETTER. Gone are the memories of lost games past, and the anticipation of the magical feeling of simply being in the same building as the Habs is huge! And @TheAbraxasCo had not seen our boys live before…twice as exciting!!

We got there, found our seats in the SEVENTEENTH ROW and promptly made our way to the opposite end of the ice where the sea of Habs jerseys were congregating before the warmup. How they knew what end to be at, I don’t know, but I’m so glad. We made our way up to the glass and then…the boys came out. Squeeeee! They started by skating around in circles and every time someone passed me I screamed “Careeeeey!!!! P.K.!!!!! Max!!!” They didn’t look at me but I know it’s just because they were in game mode. Very professional, our boys. AS IF they couldn’t hear me, I was pressed right up to the glass and making a general spectacle of myself. Actually, perhaps they were afraid. Pacioretty actually shot a puck right at me, then a minute later, he did it again. RIGHT at me. Me, me, me! I KNOW it was his way of saying hello.

8 bazillion, 57, whatever, something like that.

We went back to our seats. I noticed some fine folks bringing food and drinks down on trays to people seated in our section. I yelled out to one of them, “What? We can order stuff and you bring it to us?” This lovely person replied, “Yes!” and I was all, “Seriously? Can I order two drinks at a time? YES?! I’ll have two Mike’s Lemonades! Run a tab!” It was wonderful.

The game was about to start. Two guys, who weren’t wearing Canucks jerseys but were Canucks fans, made their way to the 2 seats beside me. They looked nice enough. I felt bad for them for what I was likely about to put them through.

THE BOYS CAME OUT ON THE ICE. After a couple of misstarts, the opening faceoff took place, and we were off to the races! We started shouting “GO HABS GO!” and when I watched the game back later on PVR, I heard we really did ourselves proud. We were LOUD.

I was tingling. Carey was in net, I was wearing his jersey, and he was playing in front of his “hometown” crowd. I couldn’t have been happier for him! 6 minutes in, David Desharnais scored the first goal and we leapt out of our seats, screaming at the top of our lungs, so much so that I wound up having a coughing fit. I explained to the guys next to me, “I’m really sorry if I seem at all obnoxious, I get to see these guys just once a year!” They kind of grumbled, “Whatever.” Don’t worry, I totally grew on them by the end of the game.

You know how when you’re at a game, you stand up if there’s a rush, you stand up when there’s a bad call, you stand up when there’s no call, you stand up when there’s a goal, etc.? Yeah, me too. I had my camera and wallet on my lap and they went flying every time. I had all these nice Canucks fan folks crawling around under their seats to retrieve my belongings every time, until @TheAbraxasCo finally grew annoyed enough to insist she put my stuff into her pockets. Which was really nice of her.

You know what happened about a minute after Desharnais scored? Gio scored! On a rebound from a BEAUTIFUL shot by P.K.! Nomez even picked up an assist! Wooooo woop woop woop! I was on my feet and swinging my arms around and loving every minute. Oh and P.S. guess what? We saw those goals right in front of us since we were at Luongo’s end for periods 1 and 3. Watching the guys gather to celebrate mere metres from us was soooooo thrilling!

After the first period, I made my way up to the rafters to meet a couple of other Twitter friends for the first time, @torrievenoit and @misscarboncopy. It was great finally meeting them! I also ran in to two of my real life friends, totally by coincidence. In a building full of 18,000+ people that’s quite the feat. Fellow Habs fans, too. Awesome.

In the 2nd, poor Carey got delay of game penalty and one of the Sisters scored. Big bummer. The Canucks fans surrounding me quite enjoyed rubbing my nose in it, but it was all in good fun. We were old friends by now. The brothers (yes, they were brothers, I asked them, we had some good chit-chat) next to me started saying, “it’s time for the comeback, another Canucks power play is coming, we can feel it,” etc. No worries, Andre Kostitstyn scored and then we were up by 2 again! My neighbour’s prediction was correct, there were 3 more Canucks’ power plays in the 2nd, but the Canucks didn’t score again til the 3rd.

We stayed in our seats for the 2nd intermission, but the conversation was so good and we were having so much fun that this was my only tweet during the game:

The 3rd wound up being really thrilling, because the Canucks scored again and the place got really excited, everyone was screaming, but that was all it would be, we saw our Habs win here for the first time in nearly ELEVEN years, Carey got his win, the guys went to hug him and he was grinning from ear to ear. And you guys. I got to see the triple-low-five between him and P.K. in person. I was hugging onto @TheAbraxasCo’s arm in anticipation, saying, “we’re gonna get to see the triple-low-five! We’re gonna get to see the TRIPLE LOW FIVE!!!!!!” and we DID. We did we did we did!!

What was interesting to me was that with about 10 seconds left to play, the Canucks fans started clearing the building. Last year, when the Habs lost here SEVEN TO ONE, I stayed until the bitter end, and didn’t make my way out of the building until I was sure the last Hab had left the ice. I guess you are more blasé about it when you have tons of opportunities to watch your team, although I can’t imagine I ever would be. We stayed firmly in our seats until the stars came out, and guess who got the first star? Carey. I can’t even.

That was it, it was over until next season. It was an AMAZING night. I close my eyes, and I relive it. I love my Habs so much. And now, our latest memory of their visit to Vancouver is of a WIN. A WIN!!! And a brilliantly played game that we TOTALLY deserved to win. Thanks so much, Habs, from the bottom of my heart, for an experience I will never, ever forget. Can’t wait to see you again!

P.S. And next time, Carey, I WILL get you to look at me. 🙂

About Last Night…

I don’t do game analyses because I’m nowhere near qualified. I leave that to my esteemed bloggers in the column to the right. When I watch hockey, I watch the Habs, and my heart is so involved, I have no objectivity. I’m not one of those people, like most of my fellow fans, it seems, who’s paying attention to who’s coming on & off the ice, the line-shuffling, and many times I have to wait until the commentator tells me to find out who just scored the goal.

I’m a Habs fan first, hockey fan second. I care not for any hockey game being played in the Western Conference, for example, unless it’s a playoff game, and during trade season, I usually have no idea who these new guys are coming on to my team. Like, NO idea. I count on the experts to tell me all about them. And then I adopt them like my own. I love the game of hockey, see, but it’s because of my love for my team. So we’re clear.

The Habs/Leafs rivalry is like no other in the NHL. Of course that has to do with that there are but 4 other teams with as much history as those 2 teams, so our deep-seeded bitterness goes waaaaay back. I hate the Bruins too, but hate the Leafs the very most of all. One of the times I hated them the worst in my whole life was in the Habs’ final game of the 2006-2007 season, against the Leafs, who already were not going to the playoffs, and the Habs HAD to get the 2 points to make it through. We had a healthy lead, too, then heartbreakingly lost 6-5. No playoffs that year. Lost to the stupid LEAFS. I could have been angry at my team (told you, total lack of objectivity), but instead chose to focus my wrath on the Leafs, for whom the victory was particularly sweet because it was our hearts they had broken. Cruelty in its purest form.

My lack of objectivity, as I say, is the biggest reason I cannot thoughtfully commentate, and the facts & figures bog me down too. There’s only so much space available in the ol’ noodle. Evidenced by my inability to add 12+5+1 this week. Remember that?

Before the puck ever dropped on this season, in the days leading up to the pre-season, this really odd thing started happening on Twitter and on the Habs blogs I read. People, Habs fans even, were already predicting we would not be a playoff team this year, or that we’d barely squeak in. THIS is why I could never qualify to engage in these debates – huh? Not even make the playoffs? I do not understand how this thought is even possible. Also, I never allow myself to consider that my team won’t make the playoffs. Just – can’t and DON’T do it. Did everyone forget that we made the Eastern Conference FINAL just a few short (but oh my god, at the time they were INTERMINABLE) months ago? This group of guys who largely didn’t even know each other before last September, who played without Markov for most of the season and without Cammalleri for weeks, who’d made our hearts sing with joy & hope during the post-season, playing with heart and sterling character and beating the so-called top teams left and right, this despite (or because of?) coach Jacques Martin, whose head had been called for by the Montreal faithful 12,563,907 times last season? Like, I do not even get how anyone could already predict the end of the season given the above, in that fashion.

Oooooh, yeah. In the off-season, Montreal traded away our Jaroslav Halak, the goaltender who’d stood on his head throughout the last playoff run, with many crediting his amazing goaltending for single-handedly carrying us through. Now, I admit, it was a head-scratcher at first, but finally made sense given his salary. And you know what? I was really, really, really really really pleased for Carey Price. This super-talented kid, who’d lost his way for a while as most kids tend to do (how else do you learn?), was going to finally show his detractors, I was sure. The reason is how maturely he’d handled his benching through the end of last season. Took it like a man, diligently & dutifully showing up for all his practices and workouts. Just because he wasn’t seeing ice time didn’t mean he wasn’t still earning a paycheque. I was proud of him for this, particularly in contrast to the behaviour of the young, petulant, entitled Belarussian we traded away before the season (I’m so sorry, Cathie). It’s how you face adversity that shows your character. And I was looking forward to watching this cool-as-a-cucumber, soft spoken young man play again.

So yes, while it was sad to see Halak go, and I genuinely wish him nothing but the best, he pretty much ceased to matter for me the moment he departed Montreal. There was a new sheriff in town, and his name was Carey Price. That’s what happens when you love your team…you throw your support behind them. Right?

Yeah, not so fast. During the pre-season (which I’m in no way embarrassed to admit I watched all of…my team’s on TV, I watch them; I don’t care that the games “don’t matter”), Carey had an off-game at home. And the Bell Centre boneheads (which aren’t many, but damn, are they loud) booed him. What kind of fan boos their OWN TEAM. I will never, ever comprehend that. Be angry, be frustrated, but boo? They should be ashamed. ASHAMED. And of course the opposing teams’ fans & bloggers (and oh yeah, Don Cherry) all rushed to make sure everyone knew that the Habs have “the worst fans in the league”. In fact, last night during his bloviating on Coach’s Corner, about 8 weeks after the fact, once again Mr. Cherry hastened to remind everyone how Carey had been booed at home. Never misses his chance, that Grapes.

Carey, I was so proud to see, also handled this rude behaviour by our “fans” with aplomb, telling everybody to just chill out, it’s the pre-season. Like the mother that I am (easy, I’m not old enough to be his mom), I was so proud of the way he just forgot about it, not allowing these creeps to define him.

OH YEAH. LAST NIGHT. That’s why I started this.

The matchups between the Leafs and the Habs are the ones I most look forward to, even though the Leafs are sucking so bad lately, because of the FEELING, the epic highs of beating them and crushing lows of losing to them. Experiencing every emotion. We’d lost our season-opener to them, and it still stung. Last night was a particularly poignant evening, having lost our beloved former coach, Pat Burns, to his valiant, dignified years-long battle with cancer, the day before. Mr. Burns had also coached the Leafs, so both teams were looking to win it for him. Going into last night, Carey already had 3 shutouts in the regular season, including against the hated bullies known as the Philadelphia Flyers. He’d had a bad night a couple of nights before against the errrr…Predators, but who cares. He wasn’t to blame for that loss. How can your team win when they don’t even score?

Well, the night began with a touching dedication to Pat Burns. It was sad and awesome to watch the various temper tantrums (as my son called them) he’d had throughout the years. Mr. Burns wore his emotions on his sleeve, just my kinda guy. And then, the Bell Centre fell into complete, absolute reverent silence in his memory. It was beautiful.

I’m not going to break down the game, but we scored 2 times against the Leafs, and they scored ZERO times. The second time we scored, ex-Hab Komisarek even generously passed the puck to Cammy who slid across on his knees and beat Gustavsson. HahahahaHA. It was a thing to behold! Shutout #4 for Carey Price. Oh, baby. Even Lapierre had some pretty beautiful moves last night.

Our team is getting really tight and seeming more like brothers with every game they play. Despite the fact that it’s a little scary to contemplate possibly an entire season with Markov out, I’m so confident in them and get so much joy out of watching them play. And I looooove watching the “cocky, disrespectful” (WHATEVER) P.K. give Carey the triple-low fives after every victory – I’ve got a feeling those two really love each other. The team this year feels in my heart like the Habs of old, a brotherhood, a family, sappy as it sounds. I can’t remember a recent Habs team that bounces back from low lows as quickly or with more effective amnesia than these 2010-2011 Habs. And yes, it’s still early in the season as everyone continues to remind us, but it’s not just the stats or standings that give me hope, it’s how these guys are really there for each other. THAT’S what makes a team.

So yeah. It’s gonna be a great season. I feel it in my bones.

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