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Johannes Wheeldon The Hockey Writers

Published on Friday, February 9, 2018





Habs to Fans: Get Ready for “More of the Same”

(Before you start commenting on social media without reading the entire piece…this is satirical, folks.)

On the heels of the New York Rangers’ letter to their fans this week, the Montreal Canadiens management is considering releasing its own letter. Currently, in draft form, the letter is from owner Geoff Molson and general manager Marc Bergevin. It promises fans more of the same for the foreseeable future.

The release of a letter like this would be an unusual move. While some may see this as a mere public relations effort, it is more than that. By releasing such a letter now, the Montreal Canadiens are making it clear how they feel about their fans. Spoiler alert: it ain’t good.

(Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

The letter suggests the days of teams taking their fans for granted during the lean years in Montreal are far from over. Why? The legacy of the Canadiens and the lack of winter spectator sports alternatives means this team does not feel it needs to build communities of fans. It means ignoring the trend toward adult, honest, and more transparent dialogue. The draft letter, while not complete, would reinforce what many fans in Montreal have come to believe.

Opening With a Flop

The letter starts by disrespecting fans and summarizing management’s view of the organization.

As a member of the Habs nation (edit – mention Club 1909), we consider you the best way to bring dollars into our organization. While we usually try to keep important news from you all until the last minute, Slats has forced our hand.  Today, we want to talk to you about the future.

As you know, since we traded our best blue chip prospect, and the most exciting player to wear the bleu, blanc, et rouge in a decade, we have a better defense, more character, and are on the cusp of winning a Stanley Cup.

P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban (James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)

Misstating the Issue

Next, the letter misstates the myriad of problems the organization faces and punts on their plans to address it. It fails to address the missteps of the immediate past and ignores the big trade of last summer.

While we’re proud of all those accomplishments, we didn’t reach our ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Montreal, yet.

So, as we do every season, we have been sticking our head in the sand, avoiding the media, and overstating how hard it is to bring a top-line center to our organization.

We will never reshape our team. Nor we will trade players with our biggest and more worrisome contracts this season, or any time in the future. We will be mediocre for years to come.

Related: Top Centers Bergevin Could Have Brought to Montreal

Preparing Fans for More of the Same

As we approach the trade deadline later this month and into the summer, we will be focused on adding older, slower, character players and trading away our younger, competitive players that combine speed and skill. We will not get a center.

This may mean we lose some of our best prospects and those most likely to assist our organization. While literally no other teams does this, our promise to you is that we will continue to prioritize outdated models of management based on hubris and dubious decision making. This might prevent us from ever becoming a Stanley Cup contender. However, that would be better than admitting an error. This is our commitment to you.

Ending With an Ask

The final section of the letter panders a bit and then sets out the ask: please keep supporting us as we give you more of the same. It promises no further updates or information.

There are no fans like Habs fans. You give us money even when we don’t deserve it. Sure, you complain too much online, but do any of you actually organize and protest at the Bell Centre to demand resignations? No. Do you all still overpay for tickets? Yes. Keep it up. (Edit – Need to mention Club 1909 again. Seriously.)

Look, we take your support for granted. We expect you will blindly stick by us. Please continue to support us and remain by our side as we bring you more of the same.

We will not keep you informed as this process takes shape. Thank you for your money. Please keep it coming.

Context and Communication

Most fans won’t be surprised. This is a mediocre team committed to outdated ideas. Some might wish for more information about the future of beleaguered GM Marc Bergevin. For that, fans will need to wait for the offseason. In the meantime, if the Habs decide to release the letter, they will have done the mere minimum to meet the standard established by the Rangers this week. Of course, the letter does not attempt to explicitly involve and inform fans in the future or hold out hope for a team over the next few years who will combine youth with  “… speed, skill, and character.” Why would it?

At least fans would know what the organization really thinks of them. Yay?


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