Irrational sports hate and my relationship with Rene Bourque

When you hate a player on your own team for no real reason other than he doesn't do enough to meet your on-ice expectations of him.

Two of my favourite things about being a sports fan:

  1. irrational attachment to certain players (or prospects), and, even more fun,
  2. irrational hatred of certain players (or prospects).

Irrational sports love is probably best discussed at a time when we aren't in a foul and cynical mood because we didn't just find out the NHL hired Frank Lutz to put lipstick on them and we aren't sick of hearing #theowners and #theplayers say anything other than "we have agreed on a new CBA."

So let's talk about irrational sports hatred, otherwise known as the Arbitrary Shit List. I'm not talking about when you hate Zdeno Chara, which is perfectly rational. I'm thinking more along the lines of when you have a player on your own team you decide is the root of all your life's problems.

I'd never advocate booing or bullying a player on your own team. We do that all the time here, at the Bell Centre, at night clubs, in grocery stores, on the street. I hate that. Remember when we made Patrice Brisebois cry? I'll never get over that. I'm talking more of a quiet, muttering-to-yourself-like-you're-going-crazy kind of hatred.

Like the kind I have for Rene Bourque.

I know it's not the guy's fault he got traded to Montreal, that the team (and the fans) lost Michael Cammalleri for him, that he is being paid too much for too long relative to his production, that Pierre Gauthier grossly misjudged the impact he would have on the Canadiens after the trade, or that he got injured working out this summer.

Things that are his fault: that he didn't skate harder there so somebody would be there for Tomas Plekanec to pass to or that huge defensive gaffe he made on that shift there and what the hell was that stupid penalty about and who the fuck is he passing to and why isn't he trying harder along the boards and for the love of Saku Koivu why does he look so LAZY out there all the time?

Watching Rene Bourque on the Habs last season year was basically like... well, watching the most of the Habs on the Habs last season. Only with 90 per cent more urges to throw something at the TV.

(Oh, and don't forget that hit on Nicklas Backstrom while he was still with the Calgary Flames, while we're at it.)

Andrew Berkshire has written a little more... objectively about Bourque and his production/projected play, and my friends over at Flames Nation did a couple of pieces exploring the decline in Bourque's play before he was traded here. I gotta say, none of it sounds too promising in terms of the future but it's not like Rene Bourque ever becoming a somewhat effective Montreal Canadien is completely out of the realm of possibility.

Still, there is no room for objective analysis on the Arbitrary Shit List. All your list cares about is why won't he try harder, damn it? You'd totally stop hating the player if he would just. try. harder.

That's the thing about irrationally hating a player on your own team: it's not permanent. All the player needs to do is play well for a significant stretch or score a couple of goals in the playoffs, and all of a sudden you change your mind and decide you'll love him forever and bump the next guy onto your list. It doesn't even have to be for laziness, either. It could be because you're a certain-goalie-homer and the other guy keeps getting the starts. It could be because a certain centre is racking up points while getting a bunch of sheltered minutes while another, clearly objectively better centre gets terrible linemates and puts up crappy numbers as a result... I mean I'm just throwing out examples here.

Anyway... back to Rene Bourque, if we ever get NHL hockey back and he isn't terrible for a whole bunch of games, I'll stop blaming him for potholes, the horrendously traumatizing experience known as Using Montreal Public Transport During Rush Hour, and the fact that Two and a Half Men is still on the air.

In the meantime, please vote on my Rene Bourque poll:

Is Rene Bourque terrible?


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