Nostalgic fans keep wondering when the Habs will return to their glory days.
In a thimble, the prospecting Mr. Kelly pleads, “How about you (management mule drivers) come up with a well thought out plan for the Habs and then tell the world what it is?”
I have asked the same question of my two fanatic children ever since their first lucid words were, “Daddy, how come the Canadiens don’t have an A-team power forward?” My response at the time was “Huh?”
Over the years, my son and daughter — experts in the field of what should be done — have served me as walking Idiot’s Guide to the Habs Winning a Stanley Cup. My job in turn is to drive them nuts by saying straight-faced, “Trade Carey Price for the entire Las Vegas team.” (Why not? 52 pick-up worked for the Golden Knights.)
Where was I? Oh yeah. But the issue as I started to say is essentially what Kelly alluded to: What’s the plan, Stan? (Short for Stanley, as in Cup.)
My default position is usually one of being a potty disturber. (The go-to that shakes the column troll apples off the tree.) So here it is: The plan has already been in place for decades.
Explanation: The team has been selling out seats despite having honed their playoff time golfing skills to the point that any number of them now qualify for PGA tours. You didn’t ask, “How can they do that with a huge gap where a really good team should be?” so I will answer: Dripping nostalgia. The same Disney on Ice theatrics that hooked my daughter when she was pre-pubescent, keeps the wishful hordes coming: Pre-game light shows, honouring shuffling old Habs on special events, public soap operas about some beloved players (ie, Saku Koivu, etc.) and other novel marketing schemes both on and off the ice, tapping into an innate local love of the only sport that makes winter worthwhile. It’s in the locals’ genes. Management’s plan to milk that ad nausea has been working for decades. (Prove me wrong, I dare you.)
We’ve seen it all: Wearing retro jerseys, raising banners while dragging out barely breathing Hall of Famers, even having the Expos’ (a team that the fans deserted, by the way) mascot bopping about and much more.
No perennially so-so sports team (Read: bridesmaid) has ever been so profitable in filling over-priced seats as No Glory-ohs. (Too harsh?) So why fix it, if it ain’t broke? The Toronto Maple Leafs (another town with forgiving fans) decided finally at great expense to buy a good team, and where did it get them this year? So why bother in a league pregnant with American owners/billionaires who consider their holdings as bling bought with pin-money?
The Habs slick marketers will continue to tap the sap of nostalgia, promising the never manifesting smokescreen of change. Here are some more ideas in the vein of glitzy nights: Wear old style gloves and skates and goalie equipment, wooden sticks, no helmets. Here’s gold I offer up for free: Before the game, bring out holograms of Hall of Fame players like Maurice Richard, Jacques Plante, Boom-Boom, etc. The possibilities are breath-taking.