Here’s an unpopular opinion for you: I look forward to the 34th playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins less than I would look forward to walking on legos with bare feet for ten miles.
There’s no denying this is a storied, exciting, passionate rivalry featuring a lot of the greatest moments in hockey history. I myself have written multiple odes to this rivalry in this space and others. I used to love Habs-Bruins games. I still love Habs-Bruins games. You know, in the regular season, when they’re few and far between, and the stakes aren’t very high. But this playoff series coming up? Nope.
I mean, I’m going to watch it. I love the Habs, and I watch as many of their games as I can. But it’s going to suck.
It’s not because the Bruins finished the season at the top of the league standings, or because they are one of the very best teams in hockey, or because they’ve been to the Stanley Cup finals twice in the last four years and are an almost sure bet to make another trip there again this year. It’s not because I’m worried the Habs will lose. I think the Canadiens have more of a shot against Boston than they’re getting credit for, and even if they don’t win, I expect it’ll be close.
I’m just not looking forward to any of the absolute crap, both on and off the ice, that is a side effect of the Habs-Bruins series as of late. Or the Anybody-Bruins series as of late.
Look, the Habs are not perfect. Neither are Habs fans. The Canadiens media has a worse reputation than it deserves and while there are definitely examples of Canadiens media members engaging in absolute idiocy, overall, especially in recent years, they’ve been really decent. Especially compared to the media covering certain other teams in the league. Not that I’m thinking of any in particular right now. The Habs drive their own fans nuts, and not a whole lot of fans from other fan bases have much time for them.
But the Bruins are emotionally exhausting. For some reason, they don’t seem to realise they’re the best team in the league and one of the biggest Stanley Cup threats. They seem to be more preoccupied with making opponents pay for clean hits, or whining about every call against them, or whining about non-things for days on end after games, or throwing accusations of diving around the league to distract from their own, or occasionally spearing a guy in the nuts and then pretending it’s something they haven’t always been doing. I wish they would just cut the crap, and play the damn hockey, but they either can’t, or won’t. There is no reason this team can’t railroad any opponent that gets in their way, until they have to face Chicago or LA or San Jose, and even then, they can win. But they insist on undermining their own play with idiotic sideshows and, quite frankly, it’s annoying to watch.
Even more annoying is the media and fan driven controversies that follow said antics. I would be willing to bet that Milan Lucic would not have been talking about the Alexei Emelin hit for days after the game if certain media members didn’t keep goading him into it. There are two or three decent Boston Bruins media members, but even they can’t avoid getting sucked into the mess these days. What normally happens around every Bruins-Habs game is that some of the most stupid, most vocal media members say and write the most embarrassing things and then everybody has to argue about it all day.
As for the fans … well. Their complete lack of self-awareness is going to become abundantly clear in the reaction to this little, unimportant blog post. Their team doesn’t dive, ours does. Their team isn’t a bunch of cheap shot artists, ours is. Their team doesn’t whine and make up excuses for every loss, ours does. Their team doesn’t get respect. Montreal fans are classless. It goes on. Aside from a few close friends of mine, Bruins fans like to keep repeating the above at me over and over again. They can’t just let things go and go away. I’m just tired of it and would rather not have to deal with it.
If you can make Leafs fans side with the Habs and Chicago fans side with Detroit, you're probably doing something wrong. If you can make Habs fans turn on their favourite rivalry, then something’s off. But it can't possibly be you, can it? Nah ...
I wish we could just cut the crap, and play/watch the damn hockey. But we can’t/won’t, so, you know. Bring on the legos.
Don't forget to take a look at Marc's opinion on the series, which represents the other side of the coin.