I have half a dozen Habs Jerseys. My office is littered with Habs signage. My Winter car has Habs floor mats, although the Bergevin/Therrien era dictum to not step on the logo has -at least temporarily – put a hold on their use. I wear a Plekanec turtleneck when I play in beer league twice a week. Yet if you look out the front window of my house, you don't see Mont Royal, or Notre Dame or even that fucking cat food store that always advertises on Ice Level. You see the CN Tower.
I have never lived in Montreal, or even Quebec. The only NHL wife I have ever run into in the produce section of my local supermarket is married to Dion Phaneuf. And it weren't no Provigo. While my children are being educated in French, my own command of the language is primarily derived from cereal boxes. So, in the event any Habs are ever diagnosed with a tragic Riboflavin deficiency, I am right on top of that. But I guess you could say that this is not something I came by totally naturally.
After noticing my rather overt Habs fandom, people often ask how it came to be. Is it the fact that I grew up in Kingston, Ontario (Home of Don Cherry!!!) almost exactly halfway between Montreal and Toronto? Is it that my earliest hockey memories were of Jean Beliveau's final year – and Ken Dryden's first? Could it have been the high hopes I had that this kid Lafleur would turn into something good? Maybe because the Ottawa Senators did not yet exist to sway my allegiance. Just kidding. What kind of maroon would cheer for the Ottawa Senators?
I actually lived the Roch Carriere story. When I was 5 and my older brother was 9 we were each given Christmas presents of hockey jerseys. I think ours came from Simpson-Sears rather than Monsieur Eaton, but otherwise eerily familiar to anyone who has attended a Canadian school or heard of the NFB. So when we excitedly tore open our packages on Xmas morn and he lifted the glorious Sainte-Flannelle while I dredged up this Leafs malaprop abomination, my tiny little heart sank. It was worse that my brother – who never played the game -was not interested in hockey, even watching. I already spent every spare second out in the street dodging cars, holding sticks ground down into toothpicks by repeated strikes on asphalt, shooting at threadbare nets or a demarcation point between two boots.
I could not wait to grow bigger just so that I could wear that jersey. God knows it would still be pristine from utter lack of reverent use. So perhaps it was significant that as a 7 year old starting novice hockey on a team that wore Leaf colours I picked Dave Keon's number 14, as his opposition to the evil Harold Ballard at least gave me some comfort.
I don't think any of these things alone can speak to the phenomenon of my very specific affiliation. But there is a common thread. They are all in the very distant past. You see, I am very very old.
This all happened in what must seem to you kids as the dark ages. Forget cell phones, we had ROTARY PHONES. (Look it up on Wikipedia kids, you will not fucking believe it. It is like one step above tin cans and string.)
So this gives me a very distinct perspective. That Dave Keon #14 sweater was made from actual wool, motherfuckers! It was actually a fucking sweater!
This goes beyond just Habs things. Today I posted on Travis's article on the new Pittsburgh Third Jerseys
"As an old guy, these just appeared to me as the Penguins new jerseys. You know , the ones they adopted a couple of years ago… wait that was 1980?"
Or pulling from today's EOTP links.
I actually had (have, maybe somewhere) the Guy Lafleur disco album. To be fair I didn't buy it in 1979 so I don't think i helped them meet that 100,000 sales target. I found it in a delete bin in the late 1980s when everyone started trying to get rid of all vinyl because: CD's! That's right hipster kids, with your iPod hooked up to a tube amp -vinyl wasn't even retro cool!
I've got a million of 'em, all aimed at blowing your little minds.
I don't know if I can extend my senescence into defending grit or clutchiness or "finishing your check" because I thought those things were bullshit 40 years ago. But it is with a great sense of obligation and responsibility that I offer my thoughts, my perspective - nay my counsel. And with the greatest of humility proclaim
"Get off my yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrd!"