Friday, May 7, 2010

Habs colours seeping through Leafs Nation

image Actor Viggo Mortenson wasn’t afraid to show his loyalties to the Montreal Canadiens at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. So why can’t all GTA Habs fans do it in Toronto year-round, and not wait for the playoffs?

Ok so I am a diehard fan of the Montreal Canadiens, that’s not a newsflash.

Pretty much year round, win or lose, I have some form of Habs clothing on. OK maybe not all year, as I do have a brief break between the end of their season and draft day. It’s my “white after Labour Day” fashion period.

But hell, I even had my Habs boxers on under my pants when I interviewed Nick Kypreos last July!

What really came to my recent attention, living in the surrounding areas of Leafs Nation, was the sudden emergence of Habs fans showing their colours once the playoffs began this season.

I didn’t see it happen last year, as the Canadiens were swiftly swept in four games.

It truly came to note by Game Two of the first round. While wearing my Habs ball cap and walking through the produce section of a Brampton grocery store, I got a “Go Habs Go” from another shopper. That never happened in the regular season and you’d only see a handful of fans out in public wearing Habs swag.

As the series progressed, more car flags with the Canadiens logo emerged and gradually more fans appeared in Habs clothing. Even those not wearing something would give me a “Go Habs Go”, or a comment on what the Habs need to do in the next game.

Earlier this week, a teenager wearing Habs pajama pants was standing in line at Tim Horton’s. Would he have done that two weeks ago? I doubt it. And what is it with wearing pajamas in public these days?

Clearly the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has a large share of closet Habs fans. What a shame. Perhaps they are under the pressure of their friends and families allegiances to the Blue and White to hide their true colours.

It reminds me of the 2007 short film “Back in ‘93”, a  story of a 10-year-old Montreal Canadiens fan living in Toronto Maple Leafs-loving St.Catharines, Ontario during the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. Much like the character in this film, many Habs fans hide their loyalties, possibly afraid of repercussions.

Don’t be ashamed people! Pretty much all of my family are Leafs fans, and I have one in-law who’s a Flyers fan and another that’s a Bruins fan. Don’t be intimidated, unless maybe there’s a clause in someone’s will.

For many Toronto Habs fans, they can find shelter at the Canadiens friendly Kilgour’s Bar in Toronto.

The internet has clearly brought Canadiens fans closer together, as they realized there were others like us out there in Leafs land. There are also gatherings of fans that use Twitter for “Tweetups” at different locations and more fans are also appearing at other GTA watering holes, as shown in Kenneth Kidd’s story in the Toronto Star.

Habs fans international appeal, as seen in The Globe and Mail, when a pair of Habs fans, living in Croatia, had a chance to meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week.

My concern is that once the playoff season is over, this group of individuals will disappear from public eye for another year, blending into the sea of Leafs Nation.

Don’t let that happen guys! Win or lose, show your Habs colours with pride throughout the season. Even if the Montreal Canadiens don’t win the Stanley Cup, this is a season for fans to be proud of their team. When was the last time a Leafs fan could say that?

More on the PM: Robert Lefebvre on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s love for hockey, including comments on the Habs  playoff run.

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