March 30, 2009, by Homme De Sept-Iles
I resent that I have to be aware of ownership machinations, team economics, player salaries and other such sports empire bounty-hunter clauses in order to better understand what went wrong for the teams I love.
It’s tempting to consider the seeming utopian community-ownership model espoused by the CFL Edmonton Eskimos or the buy-a-share town ownership of the NFL Green Bay Packers.
But one imagines the currently floated notion that the Caisse de Dépôt should buy the Montreal Canadiens might, if consummated, hold one hell of a terror-ride off-ramp for the team.
Consider that the Caisse has recently reported a $40 billion loss and are in midst of a controversy that sees the recent appointment of president Michael Sabia as a problem because his French is weak.
What would the Canadiens club be subject to were it owned by an entity like the Caisse? It would slowly and possibly irreversibly enter the worst era in Canadiens history. The tractor beam to the Québec Death Star known to some as French Nationalism.
Just as with the 1982 CFL Montreal Concordes who employed Luc Tousignant at quarterback almost solely because of his French credentials, similarly more and more pressure would be brought to bear on the Canadiens, a club that already suffers some mediocrity because of the language demands on its roster.
Tousignant split duties with anglophone Johnny Evans and finished the season 43.1% passing with 11 interceptions (6.3) and 4 touchdowns (174 attempts – a goodly number in those days). The worst CFL season for a Montreal quarterback in the seventies and eighties and likely, ever.
Imagine a team of Canadiens loaded with mediocre or worse players all skating for Les Glorieux mainly because they are French. One doesn’t have to look far for a similar disaster saga of NHL xenophobia. I trust we don’t trudge that 42-year road.
And I would hope that someone, a white knight owner, emerges with the team’s best interests at heart. It’s a vague and foolish hope, I’m sure. But even the Jedi had their day. And for those who dream in the face of doom, it’s in fiction and in the past that the greatest hope comes.