The last time the Habs were in the Stanley Cup Final, I was a 14 year old boy, cut like a bag of milk, in Grade 9, just finding my way in God’s Country - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. If you would have told me that spring, “Enjoy it kid. You will be 42 years old the next time they get to the final and you will be writing an obscure blog about how much you hate the team you love,” I would have said you are nuts. I figured the Habs were always good and spring was always the time for success.
Boy was I wrong.
Face timing with my father and brother last night brought back a lot of great memories that I took for granted as a kid. In 1993, deep playoff runs were expected, not a surprise. Team toughness was a given, not a revelation. Grit and resilience were guaranteed, not marinated. A birth in the Final was cyclical, not generational. After 28 years, I have more appreciation for how hard it is to win in the playoffs.
My first blog of the year praised Marc Bergevin for assembling this team and flattening the curve. It turned out to be eerily prophetic:
If nothing else, Marc Bergevin has assembled a team worth watching on a nightly basis. This will keep a great deal of Habs fans indoors and away from other humans which will lower the COVID numbers which can get us out of lockdown. To be able to tinker this much with a line-up in volatile pandemic times speaks to Bergevin’s relentless pursuit to give Habs fans a product worth cheering for. Imagine this team he assembled has us glued to our television for 56 games. Then imagine the 2021 Habs make a deep playoff run. Then the covid numbers go down because we all remain in our houses. Then the Quebec government can lift the curfew. Then we can attend games in person at the Bell Centre. Then we can boo the product on the ice because we forget how grateful we are to be at the game. Then life is normal again. All because Marc Bergevin is our GM!
Once the season got underway, my blogs took a nose dive not dissimilar to the housing crash of 2008. Steve Warne of the SWP (shameless sponsor plug) gave me the moniker of the Disgruntled Habs Fan, and rightfully so. Bergevin kept telling us to play the long game and I refused to believe it. I am not alone either; no one in their right mind could point to this team as a legitimate threat during the regular season.
My good buddy Butsy, the most die hard Hab fan I know, reminded me of my blog that I wrote just before the Leafs series, “They Just Aren’t Good Enough.” At that time they weren’t; remember when they were down 3-1 to Toronto? (No seriously, Leafs fans, remember?) Who gave them a chance against the Jets? Then playing Vegas, we still did not fully believe in them. Now people are asking me would you rather play the Lightning or the Islanders? Does it matter? They aren’t supposed to beat them either.
I once told my great buddy Nasty, a Leafs fan, that maybe it would be good for the Leafs to win a Cup. My reasoning centered around peer pressure. If the Leafs build a winner, it forces their main rival, Montreal, to get better so as not to alienate their fans. Turns out, I was way off! The Leafs need a team like the Habs. Regular season success matters not in June. Bergevin decided to build his team his way and should be commended for his faith in the process. Granted, it is the job of the media and fans to question failures and all of his moves, but we can never question his desire to win nor his commitment to the CH.
No one cares anymore about the age of Shea Weber, the Carey Price contract, or the age of our centers. Future RFAs, UFAs, and cap hits are things for “Summer Bergevin” to worry about.
A great buddy of mine who teaches math was telling me about his students who hated learning fractions (among other math concepts). They would lament, “Sir, when are we ever going to use improper fractions in the future? This is stupid.”
His response was always the same.
“Improper fractions are on the test. Your test is next week, which is in the future. You will use improper fractions in the future.”
Are the Habs built for the future? Next week is the future. The Stanley Cup Finals are next week. The Habs are in the Stanley Cup Final.
Turns out Bergevin did build this team for the future!