In Montreal, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don'
P.J. Stock said it so well on the team 990 the other day; if you’re a player for the Habs, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.
Pretty much all hockey enthusiasts out there know about Montreal and its passionate fans, critical media and rich hockey history. More often than not, that same passion gets in the way of reason and quite frankly, after 10 years of mediocrity, that passion can make people develop bitter perspectives on everything that’s team related. It seems that nowadays, it is easy to criticize the team and its surroundings. Its even easier to forget the positives.
The Montreal Canadians annual golf tournament is a gathering of players and media where much is discussed and there is little room left for golf. Everything from team signings to various players’ outlook on the upcoming season, is covered. Saku Koivu made some noise with a statement that even Bob Gainey felt Koivu spoke for 20 seconds too much. He simply stated he believed that the team has what it takes to make the playoffs while a cup contention is a bit far-fetched. Now that last remark caused somewhat of an uproar in the fans. Many people believe that his captaincy should be put into question as well as his devotion to the team. Now lets be honest here folks, if he were to say that they’re cup contenders, people would have said he’s BS-ing. Now that he said the opposite, people are questionning his leadership. Perhaps some would argue that he should have said nothing. NOTHING? At an annual team event where the core of the team, especially the captain, are expected to give their thoughts about the team’s position, saying nothing would be the worst scenario. Now I ask you, what is he supposed to say? The same blabber about working hard and playing for 60 minutes? That old record doesn’t sell many newspapers. Koivu made it clear at the end of the season that he’s not interested in playing for a team that’s rebuilding. He’s not getting any younger and he deserves to contend for a cup. Can we really blame him for being true to himself? For his honesty?
After battling numerous injuries, fighting cancer, recovering from a career threatening eye injury, answering all the most difficult questions the hoard of journalists throw at him game in and game out, losing his friends and teamates Craig Rivet and Sheldon Souray to trades, ongoing criticism about his french speaking abilities (or lack thereof) and finally, his implication (physical and financial) in a fund to bring a PET scanner to Montreal; it is obvious that his devotion, his heart and his leadership lie within this city. If people fail to see that, he deserves a chance somewhere else because I’m sure there’s at least 29 teams out there that would be interested in what he brings to the table.