It seems that the time has just about come to give up hope that the Canadiens will make the playoffs this season. The glimmer of hope raised by the pre-all-star-break victory over Detroit and lovingly nurtured over those few days off has been all but extinguished by three straight losses against beatable teams. And now we are hearing more and more that the Habs should use this “opportunity” to finish as close to the league basement as possible in order to get a high draft pick and start the rebuilding process.
Well, when it comes to cheering the Habs to lose, you can count me out. I mean, I understand it at a macro level. Nobody trades top draft picks anymore, so the only way to get one is to get down to lottery level. That means these players will have to be established stars before other teams (maybe) get a crack at them via trade or free agency and, if they do live up to their high draft number, they will be prohibitively expensive. So you have to “fail for Nail” (i.e., Nail Yakupov, projected #1 pick this year).
The problem for me is at the micro level. To succumb to the “fail for Nail” mentality means that, if I’m watching a Habs game and the Habs score, I have to be upset about that. If they rally from two goals down in the third period and win it with five seconds left, I have to be mad, to boo that comeback. If Carey Price registers a 39-save shutout, I have to curse at him. Well, maybe other people can do that, but I can’t. I can’t just decide “OK, from now on I want them to lose.” Being a sports fan is not rational like that. I can no more cheer against that Habs than I can decide not to breathe anymore. I will always be happy when they score, when they play well, when they win. And I’ll always be unhappy when they lose. And I’ve been a fan of the team a long time, through the good times and the bad. Each year hope springs up afresh.
They way I see it, if the Habs go on a tear for the rest of the season but don’t quite make the playoffs, then we’ve got a sustained run of good play to keep hope alive through the offseason. If they continue their poor play and do end up with a high draft pick, we’ve got the promise of that player to sustain us through the summer. It all works out. There’s always a reason to be hopeful.
So go ahead and cheer the opposition when they play the Habs. I’ll be over here, keeping the faith.