Friday, December 23, 2011
Mickey Mouse operation? I don't think so.
The Montreal Canadiens are arguably the most prestigious franchise in all of sports. 24 cups, countless Hall of fame members, rafters chock full of retired jerseys and a following that will travel the world to see them. But for the past 18 years, the team has held on to its accomplishments from the past and tried to pass them on as recent. 18 years is not that long to go without a championship, and that's not what this piece is about. The years of five straight cups are over. Expectations must be revised. My issue is the way this franchise has been run for the last 16 years. The minute the team fired Jacques Demers and Serge Savard, it fell into a tailspin. Today, this organization is more likely to be compared a Mickey Mouse operation. More on that later.
People reminisce about the good old days not just because of the championships, but the constant level of passion and competition we could all count on and took for granted.
The Rejean Houle/Mario Tremblay experiment cost us Patrick Roy and set us back a few years. We kept trading captain after captain, making a steady leadership core something impossible to maintain. The revolving door of green coaches turned a once dream job into a gig with more headaches than an Advil commercial.
The team was up for sale just to see our local business community say no thanks. Isn't this the "Institution Quebecoise" everybody holds so dear? Uncle Sam had to step in to bring it back from the dead.
And after all this, the fans, as unhappy and frustrated as they are, pack the building and surrounding bars and restaurants, hoping for a miracle. They (and I include myself in that group) buy plane tickets and fly across the continent to cheer for them on road games. But their love and support is not unconditional. The Habs are running out of time. The season ticket line might be 15 years long, but a few more years of this, and 21,273 people at a game will be a thing of the past, much like our Stanly Cup parades down Ste-Catherine.
Two years ago, we got a taste of the glory days. We rode a hot goalie and a powerplay to the Conference finals. The city was buzzing. Last year, we took the champs to overtime in game 7. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
Then, it all came crashing down again. Underachieving stars, coach fired, lame duck GM that nobody respects, absentee owner/president and a language debate for good measure. What a disaster. And the worst part in all this is that there is very little hope to hold on to. The few bright stars on the team will be anchored by immovable contracts for years to come.
Mickey Mouse operation? I don't think so. How did this expression ever get associated with something negative? Have you ever been to Disney World? It's the most well organized place in the world. Mickey Mouse is big business and I think he's sick and tired of being compared to loser companies. Ever try getting lost in that theme park, it's impossible. There are signs everywhere. Looking for a bathroom? There's one every 9 steps. Hungry? There's food every 3 steps. Parking spot sucks? Hop on the little train. Fucking brilliant. It's a well oiled machine, not a rusted old Schwinn like the Habs. So no more shitting on Mickey by comparing him to failing companies. Not until I don't have to wait 30 minutes to take a piss at the Bell Center.
Besides, they should change it to Mighty Mouse operation. Where the hell has that guy been in the last 18 years? Left for dead in a gutter, comme les Canadiens.