I knew Dom Ducharme’s goose was cooked on Saturday January 31. At the 15:06 mark of the 2nd period, when the Habs were trailing 5-1, Zack Kassian of the Oilers ran over goalie Sam Montembeault and the response on the ice from the players was NOTHING. The referee was more upset at Kassian than the players were. I am very reluctant to ever accuse professional athletes of quitting or being cowards, but the 5 Habs on the ice at that moment proved to me that this team absolutely quit on their coach and each other. When that happened, it was only a matter of time before Ducharme was shown the door.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s when we were taught to fear a losing team. Remember the Leafs of the 80s? They were horrible, but they were nobody’s doormat. John Kordic, Wendel Clark, Gary Leeman, Al Iafrate, and Todd Gill would make you pay for looking at them the wrong way. You got your 2 points against them most nights, but no one accused those Leaf teams of quitting on their coach or each other.
In the 90s, when I was in my prime (Hockey DB for some reason lost my stats), I remember my coaches and father (also my coach) teaching us 3 very important lessons when it came to lopsided scores, losing teams, and our goaltenders.
Lesson 1: When your team is up big in the third period, keep your head up because the other team will make you pay for embarrassing them. It was a given that the other team would try and hurt you and if you did not fight back or protect yourself, you were shamed in a way that you either quit hockey or never did it again. In fact, our coaches would tell us between periods that it will happen. The refs, parents, and timekeeper knew it too. The Habs players of today were never taught that lesson.
Lesson 2: When your team is down big in a game or on a losing streak, make the other team pay for your problems. Regardless of how tough we were, it was expected that if we can’t beat them on the scoreboard, then we had better beat them up! More often than not, it galvanized us. My favourite coaches were the loose cannons, especially my father. When the score was out of hand, it was Elmer Fudd during rabbit season! I remember my coaches in Bantam and High School Hockey (my glory years) and the thrill of the whisper in my ear, “Waldo1947, get out there and run someone over.” Two minutes in the box is a small price to pay for your team’s pride. Habs players were not taught this lesson.
Lesson 3: Running the goalie, no matter the score, is never permitted. We all knew this. If someone did it to your goalie, there were two options. If you are in a league that permits fighting, it is an automatic line brawl. If it is a league that does not permit fighting, you run their goalie on the next shift. Our coaches never had to really emphasize this rule; it is a hockey axiom as old as the game itself.
My point is, we were brought up properly. We looked out for each other, and when we put on our skates in the 80s and 90s, we played for each other and our coaches. In other words, we were raised as wolves, not sheep.
To steal a quote of Chief Thomas Rainwater of TV's Yellowstone, “We are raising our sons like sheep who, when the wolves come, think their only option is to run to the shepherd for protection.” How did we get to a place where we teach our boys that the way to stop a bully is to tattle on them? That not only increases bullying, it then permeates into other facets of their lives - professional, romantic, and athletic. Coaches and employers want a wolf, not a sheep.
Parents, teachers, and coaches: Wolves are a revered animal that hunt in packs, look out for the little ones, and believe in family and toughness. Wolves are not bullies; they are what all of our sons need to become.
Is Martin St. Louis the answer? He played like a wolf and trained like a wolf and knows how to lead a pack. Let’s hope he can make wolves out of these lambs.
By Waldo1947 | The Disgruntled Habs Fan