I sat amongst a circle of friends last night, one of which was a Leaf fan. We were enjoying good conversation and the Leaf fan wanted to break from form and peek at the Leaf game on TV. To be honest, I had no interest in doing so but obliged him for a few moments. Then a typical Leaf/Hab jab moment ensued with him reminding me of last Saturday's drubbing of the Habs by the Leafs...
I looked at him and asked him bluntly "How do you do this?". He wasn't sure what I meant so I clarified. I went on to ask him how he finds joy in the sport when his team constantly disappoints him in the end. I mean, as a long suffering Leaf fan under 40, he has never tasted ultimate victory. Now, before Leaf fans jump down my throat, I'm not raising the old, stale fact of a 41 year drought. I'm actually getting tired and frustrated with my own Habs team. He went on to explain he finds joy in the small victories. A win over a good team. A win in the first round of the playoffs. The chance of making the playoffs with a late season run. The memory of '93 when the Leafs were robbed by Gretzky when they surely were destined to meet and beat the Canadiens in the final.
I looked at him and explained my memory of '93. The most exciting playoff run I, and many others, have ever witnessed. 10 straight overtime wins and the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup! My memory is not wrapped in disappointment which my friend's memories always are. That is when I looked at him and asked how he does it year after year.
I know what it feels likes to have your team win. And the truth is? I miss that feeling. The Habs have been one disappointment after another since that joyous '93 Cup Season. And now in their Centennial year, a Cup was destined for their mantle. As the season wears on it's becoming clear that the Habs might not be as good as many thought. As this current slump slumbers on, my heart becomes heavier and heavier. And I'm starting to question my desire to spend so much emotion on hockey. Now, before my fellow Hab brethren jump on me for giving up hope be clear. I have been a devoted Hab fan for as long as I can remember. I truly feel joy when my team wins. I truly feel frustration when they don't. It's the second point that's killing me. We're getting deep into a second decade of losing. And I think I'm getting tired of it. I don't know how you Leaf fans do it. I admire your patience. It's got to be patience. But after only 15 years of mediocrity (compared to 41 I CAN say only) I think I'm getting tired of it. I can't, in good conscience, debate the positives of my team against the Leafs or any other so-called rival when my team really isn't that good. I can't do it.
I was very active in these blogs earlier in the season. Often going head to head with many Leaf fans. Over the last month I have become noticeably absent. I have nothing to debate. My team is becoming another disappointment. Just follow the stats. Nothing to debate. And my heart sinks lower and lower.
I'm sure I'm setting myself up for a bunch of "I told you the Habs suck, nananananana", but I really don't care. I AM saying the Habs are not that good. I AM admitting I'm getting tired of being disappointed.
I'm going to see how this season plays out. If it ends in disappointment again I may have to take an emotional break from hockey for a while. Focus on other things. Because, unlike many Leaf fans. I don't think I can do this. I know what it's like to watch your team win and i just can't pretend things are great when they are truly not. I don't think I can handle 16 years of this, never mind 41. Not gonna happen. No way. No how.