Poor Len Canayen here with the first of occasional comments on what's happening in the National Hockey League, and the progress of the Montréal Canadiens.
Canada's favourite team opened the 2016-17 season in Buffalo last night, beating the Sabres 4-1. The new-look Habs played nicely as a team, absent the showboating shenanigans of P.K. Subban, traded to the Nashville Predators (as predicted here, ahem ahem) at the end of June. For P.K., Montréal got a great all-round defenceman, Shea Weber, who contributed an assist plus solid checking to last night's victory. I understand Subban got an empty-net goal the other night in Nashville, but, IMHO, the Habs got the better of the trade.
Some Canadiens fans disagree. Just before the last pre-season game at the Bell Centre, one could hear a few of them attempting to get a "P.K.! P.K.!" chant going, but it petered out when the puck dropped, and the disgruntled fans -- Anglos, no doubt -- were silenced by a first-rate performance by Weber as les Glorieux whupped the Toronto Maple Laffs 6-1.
But there are still a few die-hards. One of them, a chap who styles himself "Dr. CK" took out a full-page ad in yesterday's Montreal Gazette to say that the trade has changed the way the "lifelong fan" feels about the team. "Now, I feel anger, disappointment and embarrassment over the treatment of P.K. Subban by team management: the same sentiments that many felt after the Patrick Roy trade," sez the good doctor.
Then comes the praise-singing. "You are an amazing and influential role model for my children," the ad goes on, "and I am going to miss not having you as a Montreal Canadien."
When I read that and the rest of the anti-French drivel -- "Dr. CK" says (in English) he cannot support Habs general manager Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien, and that going to Habs games would be a vote of confidence in their leadership -- I began to wonder about the true identity of the advertiser. Who could "Dr. CK" really be?
The general tone of the loose and omnipotent rubric reminded me of the many articles written by one-time Gazoo sports scribe Dave Stubbs, the one who called P.K. Subban a "transcendant defenceman". See "Poor Len Canayen explains Habs' Subban for Weber trade", WWW 29/6/16. I had described Stubbsy previously as chief cheerleader for Subban, and wondered (in fact if not in print) if Mr Stubbs was getting backhanders from P.K.'s agent to write so effusively about He Who Must Not Be Criticized.
Turns out the author of the ad -- which cost C$20,000 ($15,200 in real money) by the way -- wasn't Dave Stubbs, but one, Dr. Charles Kowalski. Interviewed by CBC News, the man behind the ad said it wasn't just about losing Subban. "I think the loss of P.K. Subban from Montreal, the bigger issue than hockey is the loss of his presence in the city of Montreal and his cause of raising money for the Children's Hospital," he said. "This is more important than the game of hockey."
Replying for la Sainte Flannelle, Donald Beauchamp told CBC News, "We have very passionate fans, and everyone is entitled to their opinion." Indeed. Poor Len is one of those passionate fans -- could you tell? -- and my opinion is that the Canadiens are a much better team this year. If Dr. Kowalski thinks so highly of P.K., perhaps he could follow his idol to Nashville. And one more thing, Doctor. Your $20,000 would have made a nice contribution to the hospital, instead of being wasted on this tripe!
Footnote: Yes, I am aware that Dave Stubbs no longer works for the Gazoo. I'm sure his departure from the sports desk in the middle of the season had nothing whatever to do with his adulation of the "transcendant defenceman".