Montreal Fans Shamelessly Single Out Carey Price
Dare I say, Montreal fans have something to learn from Boston fans? I know I’m not coming from the most sensitive collection of fans, but the way Canadiens fans treated their goalie at the Bell Centre Wednesday night was deplorable. It started with a mock cheer, but by the end was just uncalled-for behavior.
As a Boston fan myself, I am well aware that we are characterized as so many things, we’re often given contradictory classifications. We have been described as loyal and classless, knowledgeable and clueless, proud and arrogant. The Boston sports fan scene is like a melting pot these days, where one can find any one of those personality traits lurking around the Fenway or Garden area.
I understand that as a group, we can have a tendency to be tough on players when they do not perform. David Ortiz has been a victim of boos from the Fenway faithful in recent years when he struggled mightily, but we all end up loving the guy in the end. One thing, however, that I can safely say Boston fans do not do, is publicly single out an underperforming player by name. And even if we have done that before, it was not for a 21-year-old kid with just 93 NHL games under his belt.
That’s what brings me to Montreal, who unwittingly embarrassed themselves as a fanbase by how they treated goalie Carey Price Wednesday night in game 4 of their opening-round playoff series against the rival Bruins. The lead for Boston was at 4-1 and there were just about two minutes remaining in regulation- and Montreal’s season. Price had allowed 15 goals in the four-game series, which by that time had been a forgone conclusion that the No.1-seeded Bruins were sweeping the No.8-seeded Canadiens. So the Montreal fans let Price have it, slowly chanting “Caaaaaarey! Caaaaaarey!” as if to taunt him like he’s the opposing goalie.
There are too many adjectives to describe how horrible this treatment is by Canadiens fans. Price had been thrown right into the fire in his rookie year and faltered, and now had a lesser team playing in front of him and faltered again. But the kid is still only 21, and is only four years removed from being drafted! The last thing Canadiens fans should be doing is doing damage to Price’s psyche. Now he’s going to be motivated, yet probably apprehensive or overly anxious to impress the Montreal crowds. For that reason, I predict a slow start for Price next season. And honestly, the fans deserve it for the way they treated him. But Price does not deserve any of this.
I can understand having lofty expectations for Price, the fifth-overall draft pick in 2005. But it’s still far too early in the kid’s career to be expecting him to carry the team to a Stanley Cup. Their booing and chanting suggests that they expected Price to stand on his head and bring the Canadiens past the No.1 seed, after they barely even made the playoffs. How little sense does that make?
I guess they’re expecting Price to do what Patrick Roy did in 1986 all over again. Breaking news for Montreal fans: different player, different era, different team. Through the injuries, lack of a team identity and ousting of coach Guy Carbonneau, the Canadiens’ 100th season was a mess, and considering the expectations on this team at the beginning of the season an 8-seed and first round exit is an enormous failure. But it was a failure from top to bottom in the organization, from the front office to the coaching staff to the players. All of them. The blame cannot rest on the shoulders of one person, especially not a 21-year-old.
Shame on every Canadiens fan at the Bell Centre who partook in that chant, and any fan who condoned it. If you’re going to boo the team, boo the team, not one player. And even if you decide to stoop to the level of singling out one player for your team’s failure, make sure it’s someone who’s expected to perform at a championship level. Price will be an All Star- and perhaps a champion- in the future, but he is still developing. If you can’t be patient enough to live through the growing pains, then you don’t deserve to have him.