A Canadien Fan Or A Canadian Fan?
A Canadien Fan Or A Canadian Fan?
Also Read Pat Storto's take: They Will Not Force Us.
Before I begin to convey my thoughts on this topic, I have to disclose certain facts. As an aspiring professional in the sports world I am not supposed to be a fan of any team. When I write about hockey I attempt to do it with an unbiased thought process. I do use my own views and feelings when discussing any subject, but I never let my opinions be swayed due to the team I root for. Only this way will I keep continuing to grow and one day eventually become a professional earning the respect of my peers and my readers.
That said, I would like everyone to know that I am and will always be a fan of the Montreal Canadiens. My Father was a fan, I am a fan and my future children will be fans. I bleed ‘Bleu Blanc et Rouge’ and, yes, I plan my life around Habs games. I don’t pick any of the retired numbers on any of my jerseys no matter what sport I play. Guy Lafleur, not Pele, is the original number 10 and Mats Naslund is the reason why Martin St. Louis wears number 26.
The NHL is a league with teams that represent many different cities in North America. Its players come from many different countries and the fans do as well. As fans, we are allowed to follow and root for any team we wish. You don’t need to have any connection to a specific team nor do you need to live in that team's city to root for them. Most importantly to this discussion, you don’t even have to live in that team's country to be a fan.
Ever since I was young, people - let us say the media - have forced fed all of us with the idea that a Canadian team must win the Stanley Cup. The Stanley Cup needs to come home to the birthplace of hockey etc. etc. etc. Growing up my family never really had that problem because every seven years or so the Montreal Canadiens would bring the Cup to Ste. Catherine street. But 1993 is a long time ago and with what happened in game seven this year for the Habs, that will not change. So now everyone is telling me that I have to become a fan of the Vancouver Canadians, I mean Canucks. They are the only team left that I am allowed to follow and root for. They have to win. Why does the media push that agenda? Why do fanatics of the NHL and even casual playoff fans root for any Canadian team remaining. I am now even hearing that Vancouver is "Canada’s team".
There is not and never will be "Canada’s team". To be Canada’s team you need to have the most Canadians playing on the team, correct? Well then Canada’s team might be the Flyers, the Bruins or the Lightning. And let’s be honest the Canucks don’t even have the largest fan base in Canada. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadiens are always vying for that. The joke has always been that if the Maple Leafs are Canada’s team then the Canadiens’ are God’s team.
The NHL does not pit one country against another. Let’s leave that up to the Olympic and World Championship tournaments. This is a city versus city league. Some say this is a plot by the television networks and media to keep Canadian fans interested throughout the playoffs. Come on, we all know that the most diehard and fervent hockey fans are in Canada and I can bet that over 60% of the viewers of the finals will be Canadian no matter what teams are playing.
So, no, I will not be rooting for the Canucks. To be honest, as a Canadiens fan, I hate all the other Canadian franchises and always will. If Montreal can’t win it, boy, do I never want any other Canadian team to win it either. Will I watch the rest of the playoffs? Of course I will. Do I have another team that I want to win? No, never, because if I do that will make me fickle bandwagon fan. Much like I would become if I rooted for any other Canadian team just because they were still playing in the playoffs. I will be watching the games for the skills, the hits and the excitement playoffs bring. I will be watching my favorite players that might be American or Slovakian and may not be Canadian. I will watch the playoffs because I am hockey fan and not because I am Canadian.
It’s time to end the nonsense of needing a Canadian team to root for. We the fans and the NHL does not need a Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup. Hockey only grows when the spoils are spread around. Isn’t that what Gary Bettman is trying to do?
But then again, did I jump as high for Sidney Crosby’s game winning goal in the Olympics as I did for Eric Desjardins’ game two winning goal against the Los Angelas Kings in the Stanley Cup final? I guess I did. Maybe just a little less high.
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Shahab Khan the Schoolboy