Julie Martin, Community Manager, Website Designer, Writer

 

About My Jersey

On the evening of June 30, 2016, I left my Montreal Canadiens jersey tied to the statue of Jean Béliveau, one of the most beloved Habs legends. I had written on it, in Sharpie, a note saying that I would no longer have use for the jersey and that the Canadiens could have it back. I continued saying that PK Subban deserved better and so did the fans of the team and I ended the note with "Stop making such huge mistakes."

I would have been more eloquent except that it's really difficult to write on a jersey with a Sharpie.

It was brought to my attention today, July 1, that some news outlets, notably ESPN, had picked it up.

As such, I wanted to clarify my reasons for leaving my jersey at the Bell Centre and my reasons for deciding to no longer support the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.

I started watching hockey when I was in elementary school. Some friends of mine had gotten me into it. Though I didn't know much about it at the time, I knew one thing: the Montreal Canadiens were legendary. It was fun to be a part of this group of worldwide fans, people who knew about Les Glorieux, who knew who the Rocket was, who understand what the CH meant.

While I was able to enjoy the Cup win in 1993, I have seen mistake after mistake be made by the various people responsible for this beloved team.

I remember the Patrick Roy debacle. I remember his angry words to Ronald Corey and his subsequent departure. I remember trying to emulate the trade Réjean Houle made with the Avalanche on my copy of NHL '94 and being denied, as this trade would be too much of an advantage for Colorado.

Despite that, I continued to support the team. I even saw them play a game against the Capitals in DC, once. It was the game where Sergei Gonchar slashed Saku Koivu's hand, breaking his hand on the play. There was no penalty. I, dressed in a Habs jersey with a Habs hat, screamed bloody murder at the refs (as one does) and then got told by a gentleman, in a quiet, Southern drawl: "I don't know how y'all do it up thar in Canada... but down here? We kill people for less." Yeah, I got threatened by a Caps fan because of my adoration for the team. I have been a Montreal Canadiens fan first and a hockey fan second.

I bought partial season tickets for two seasons, 2000-2001 and 2001-2002, meaning I attended, at minimuum, about 48 home games over two years. Let me tell you, those were some abysmal years. I didn't mind losing. I adored being in the (then) Molson Centre, soaking up the atmosphere, cheering the team on. I even managed to get tickets to Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs, where we defeated the Bruins and eliminated them. It was one of the best nights of my life.

I was pleased with the announcement that Marc Bergevin would become the new general manager, ridding us of Pierre Gauthier. I didn't even mind the re-hiring of Michel Therrien. It wasn't until this past season that I started to have grave doubts regarding the future of the team. Some of the events that gave me pause:

  • Trading Brandon Prust for Zack Kassian, who was involved in a car accident before the season even started, forcing him to enter the NHL's substance abuse program
  • Signing Alexander Semin (at least it was a cheap experiment)
  • The disastrous handling of Carey Price's top-secret injury
  • Management refusing to get a more experienced backup for Price when poor Mike Condon was shouldering the majority of the work, and not doing terribly well
  • Standing by Therrien even when the team won six times throughout the entirety of December and January

    And then we come to the events of the last week. The Montreal Canadiens acquired (and then signed, for six years), a player named Andrew Shaw, who is best known to me as "that guy who got (rightfully) suspended for using a homophobic slur" while playing for Chicago in the 2016 playoffs. That the Canadiens, the classiest of organizations, could pick up this guy left me rattled and uncertain. Still, at no time did I consider not following the Habs, nor did I think about dropping hockey altogether.

    It was only when Bergevin traded PK Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber that what remained of my fragile faith in the team was shattered. It's not that I think that Shea Weber is a bad player! I understand he's an elite defenseman. However, the fact remains that PK is entering his prime whereas Weber is going to decline, if he hasn't already begun. Replacing PK with Weber doesn't make sense to me. It's worse than seeing Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers, because at least he was unproven when Bob Gainey traded him for Scott Gomez. Bergevin just traded a Norris trophy winner. Prior to PK, the last time a Hab won it was when Chris Chelios won it in 1989. (Let's not even discuss that particular trade!)

    As such, my trust in the management is gone and it is with great regret that I feel I must withdraw my support of the team until such time as Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien are replaced. I've cancelled my RDS, Sportsnet and TVA Sports channels and the reason is that I will not be watching hockey again. The love I had for the Canadiens has taken with it my interest in hockey. Who knows if I'll ever regain that passion I once had?

    All of that to say, I have no further use for my Habs jersey. I left it, and the hastily-scrawled note on it, at the Jean Béliveau statue. This gesture was really something I felt I needed to do in order to communicate that I wasn't pleased. As to why that particular statue? PK Subban received the Jean Béliveau Trophy this season, which was awarded to him due to his charitable actions and community involvement. It seemed only fitting to me that the statue of this particular legend be the resting place for my jersey.

    Hopefully that helps to address any outstanding questions as to why I did what I did. Too bad we don't have similar transparency from Marc Bergevin.

    - Julie Martin