You’ve heard this since you were a kid. Whether it was during the playoffs, or after a big Habs’ Stanley Cup win, or even in the off-season, you heard it. You heard it then, and you still hear it now.
The referrees favoured Montreal, they’d say. The league wanted Montreal to win. It was practically fixed. If a call was borderline, the decision went to the Habs. They won for so many years because they had first dibs on French-Canadian players.
Everyone else was the underdog, didn’t stand a chance against the disproportionately-stacked Montreal Canadiens, and so hockey fans growing up hated the Canadiens because this was a team that always seemed to win, and so they cheered for everyone else. Anybody but the Habs. Their fathers hated the Habs, which begat Hab-hating sons, which begat Hab-hating grandchildren.
So are you ready to hear more of this? This is the year of celebration for the Montreal Canadiens, their 100th anniversary of being a hockey team, and often, more than others, a glorious team. And in this 100th year, Montreal has a decent chance to win the Cup, their 25th time.
People will say it was fixed to correspond with the anniversary. The league wants them to win this year, they’ll nod in agreement. The referees will give them the close calls. And new fathers will teach their children as they grow up to hate the Habs.
The circle will never be broken. And it makes Montreal Canadiens fans even stronger.