Interesting night. Kovalev returned to Montreal, where he made the game-winning goal possible, and scored an insurance goal himself. The fans cheered for Kovalev when he scored, and again when he was named a star of the game and came out for a curtain call.
I feel the same way, and may have applauded Kovy's play had I been there, but I am uncertain whether I would have cheered him while at the same time booing the Montreal Canadiens. After all, those players in Bleu-Blanc-Rouge CHOSE to come play in Montreal, knowing exactly what sort of mess they were getting into. Don't they deserve our respect?
And then, I consider that the Habs, at present, stink.
There is hardly anyone on that team I am remotely interested in, and their coach has yet to deliver on his promise to deliver a team that breaks out with any efficiency, or maintains any sort of sustained possession.
I also remember that Alex Kovalev really, really wanted to stay in Montreal. And a deal was on the table, but Bob Gainey chose to act like a petulant teenager, impatiently withdrawing the offer before the ink had even dried.
So I view Saturday night's "Rocky IV" moment as not only a respectful welcome to a past hero, but also a clear indication of how dissatisfied the fans are with the management, coaching, and play of this current Montreal team. If Gainey had assembled a decent team, or had kept some semblance of continuity, the Habs might not be a glorified AHL team today.
Context is everything. And for the Montreal Gazette writers who criticize the fans every time they boo, I offer this:
Montreal fans boo because they care. We are not Hurricanes fans. When the team plays badly, we know it, and we demand better. Yes, we are demanding. Should we just cheer blindly and ignorantly? Should we ignore the rules and just think that every penalty called against the Habs is unjustified, every goal scored against is the result of cheating? Habs fans actually go to games even when the team is in a down year (other recent Cup winners cannot claim the same).
We know when the team plays badly. We also know when the team plays well. Be glad that Montreal has fans who know the difference. Why should we accept the "At least he tried" mentality that allowed Patrice Brisebois to desecrate the Habs uniform?
Whether or not you agree that Kovalev should have stayed in Montreal, the results speak for themselves: The Habs suck, and Kovalev, who could have stayed a Hab, scored a goal and an assist. The fans merely pointed out the disparity.