Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Montreal, they're putting the boo into boorish

Montreal's fans are known for their encyclopedic knowledge of the game and the reverence for which they hold those that carried their colours through the ten decades of their history. The city and its fans have formed the foundry of the league and one of the proud guardians of its historic past.

But lately, it seems that the fans of Montreal, or what appears to be a very vocal minority have been letting their frustrations interfere with their reputation.

Over the last number of years, the loud and incessant booing of the opposition teams, select members of the home side and on rare occasions, the anthem of the United States has become almost a rite of passage at playoff time.
The most recent episode of the boorishness took place on Monday night, a pre game scene which left Montreal General Manager Bob Gainey to offer up some tips on etiquette and civil behaviour for his fans, taking time out from game four preparations to admonish the vocal minority that seem intent on showcasing the worst of Montreal.

While booing has been a time honoured tradition at sporting events, in Montreal it seems to have become part of the rituals of the game. Whether it's Carey Price warming up in the pregame skate to a touch of the puck by the Habs Kovalev, or the Bruins Chara, the sound descending from the top of the Bell Centre is deafening and unequivocal in its message.

But there is a line between expressions of frustration at the state of your hockey team and the disrespect of a neighbour and partner in the game. One would hope that despite the obviously dire straits the home side finds itself in on Wednesday night, that when they strike up the Star Spangled Banner the fans keep any negative opinions to themselves.

Between the the lack of civility of the pre game and the post game worries over potential troubles outside on the streets of Montreal reminiscent of last years post series riots, the image of Montreal's once proud and respected fan base is taking a rather large dose of tarnish these days.

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