Why The Montreal Canadiens Will Win the Stanley Cup (or How I Learned to Hate Jack Todd in A Single Sports Column)
Most people know that I’m a die-hard Habs fan. At the beginning of each NHL season I predict the same thing – The Montreal Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup. Since my fandom began at the age of 5, I have been correct twice: 1986 and 1993. And I was very close in 1989. I have been wrong 22 times. Nevertheless, each year I believe, with all my heart, that my prediction will come true and my beloved hockey club will win the championship. That hope keeps me mesmerized and it cements my emotional investment in the team. Without even a glimpse of hope, I wouldn’t care. Because what’s the point in cheering for something that has, with 100% certainty, no chance of succeeding?
Some Habs fans are less optimistic. Their assessments are not so clouded by emotion that they can come up with a clearer judgment of the Canadiens’ chances. They are realists. Right now, these realists are probably not putting too much stock in the Habs’ chances after they limped into the post-season in 8th place, poised to face the venerable Capitals in the first round. But I can guarantee that, deep down, those realists have at least a modicum of hope. We all believe that there’s a team that could surprise everyone and hoist the Cup by playoff’s end. It may take a few sigmas of variance to the lucky side, but it’s possible. That’s all we need – any number greater than zero that they can do it. Possibility. Every Habs fan believes in possibility – even the realists.
Jack Todd is not a realist. Perhaps Jack Todd isn’t even a fan of the Canadiens. Maybe he’s just a sports reporter for the Montreal Gazette who writes about hockey and doesn’t have any interest whatsoever in the home team. But one thing is certain – Jack Todd is not a realist. He’s a buzzkill. He’s the guy who tells you that red meat causes cancer just as you’re sinking your teeth into a juicy burger. He’s the guy who tells you on the way into the cinema that the movie sucked. He’s the guy who tells you that you paid too much for the television you just bought. He’s the guy who relishes the chance to tell everyone that the picnic in the park will almost certainly be cancelled because it’s going to rain.
In his Monday, April 12 column in the Montreal Gazette, Jack Todd gave Montrealers this sun-shiny forecast:
What happens now? The Canadiens get steamrolled by the Washington Capitals. There are only two possible scenarios here: Jaroslav Halak is very hot, in which case the Habs might take this first-round series as far as six games. Or Halak is merely ordinary, as he was Saturday night, in which case it’s a repeat of last spring’s four-and-out.
Chances the Canadiens will beat Alex Ovechkin’s Caps to advance to the second round? Roughly equal to the possibility that you’ll see me flinging Penelope Cruz around on Dancing With the Stars.
Translation? Won’t happen.
Next season? Given Scott Gomez’s contract and all the other problems with which Pierre Gauthier was saddled by the departed Bob Gainey, it will be more of the same, as a 17-year stretch without an appearance in the third round of the playoffs stretches toward infinity.
You read it here first.
Oh I see what you did there Mr. Todd – you compared the Canadiens’ chances of winning their first-round series to a preposterous scenario infused with a pop-culture reference. How fiendishly clever of you, sir! Because I’ll bet you’re never going to appear on Dancing With the Stars with Penelope Cruz. Oh wait, you even clarified that the chances are exactly equal to zero by saying “Translation? Won’t happen.” Phew. Without that clarification I’m sure many readers would have been clamoring to deduce the exact probability of your scenario so that they’d have an informed estimate of the Canadiens’ chances. They’d turn to their friend and say, “Hey, do you know if Montreal Gazette sports columnist Jack Todd is being considered as a contestant on the next installment of the hit reality show ‘Dancing With the Stars’? What about Penelope Cruz? What are the chances they’d be paired up as dance partners? Roughly speaking? Give me a number. What percent chance would that happen? Because apparently the Canadiens have the exact same chance of winning their first round series.” Again, thanks for spelling that out for us.
Jack Todd hates hope.
His job is to watch sports and tell us what happened. Sure, he can colour in some analysis and even reflect on what may come. But Jack Todd goes a step further by sucking any semblance of hope out of the equation and recklessly cheapening the experience of an entire fan base. His column can be summed up as such, “The Habs are hopeless and they will continue to be hopeless for at least another year.” He’s telling everyone there’s no point in watching. The party is over for the foreseeable future. Don’t bother. Forget it.
He’s the sports writer equivalent of Martin Seligman – the psychologist who took perfectly content dogs and blasted them with electrical shocks until they became utterly helpless creatures.
Fortunately, Habs fans are never going stop hoping. You can shock us over and over again (17 years and counting) and we’ll still be there cheering on the red, white, and blue. We may be dogs – but only underdogs.
Jack Todd doesn’t have to watch. He should write their obituary right now and proceed to the nearest exit. He’s already decided that not only do they have no chance this year, they don’t have a chance next year. So go ahead and take a year off, Jack. Don’t talk about the Canadiens for a year. I’m sure you can fill up your schedule making visits to oncology units to tell cancer patients that they’re goners, or sitting at the base of Mt. Everest telling climbers that they’ll probably never make it to the summit, or going to hockey rinks across Canada to tell youngsters that they will most certainly never make the NHL.
And if he’s so sure, why doesn’t he stake his job on it? If it’s 100% certain that they’ll lose in the first round, then Jack Todd would have no problem declaring that he will resign from his job if the Canadiens beat the Capitals. But I’d say the chances of him actually standing behind his flippant comments are the same as me getting into a fist fight with The Situation in the next season of Jersey Shore. See what I did there? Just to be clear, what I mean is that it is impossible.
What annoys me most is that he has set himself up to look smarter than everyone else. He knows the fans will cheer for the Canadiens anyways. So, if the Caps win he’ll say “I told you so” (way to go Nostradamus) and if the Habs win he’ll simply colour himself surprised and applaud their plucky determination.
We’re not stupid. We know the Habs are longshots to get past the first round. But when someone declares them dead-in-the-water by saying they have ZERO chance, that’s a slap in the face to everyone who loves the team and has cheered for them for the past 82 games. Piss off with your dimestore musings, Jack Todd. You can take your 0% and shove it up your ass.
How’s this Jack – The Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup this year. Then they’re going to win it next year and the year after that. You read it here first (you self-serving prick).
(you can tell Jack Todd he’s terrible at Jacktodd46@yahoo.com)