Wednesday, 22 February 2012

HABS-TOWN: "The (Habs) need to spend a couple years at the bottom"

Max Harris is a cool kid.

I remember Max at a younger age then he likely remembers. I was working at a summer camp as a hockey instructor - and Max, barely interested in hockey would come to talk Expos baseball. I had Expos season tickets at the time, and went to virtually every single game. I knew all the players, all their stats, I knew everything about them - I even had a friend in the clubhouse - and yet, I think Max knew more than me.

Max is a sports guru - a name coined for him on a TSN 990 Trivia show years ago, by the show's host Elliot Price. If you look at pictures of Expos fans in their waning days - Max is often front & center.

At one time Max co-hosted "BALLS! The baseball Show" on TSN 990, he tweets, he blogs and he umps softball. Max is everywhere, and although baseball is his first love, this is still a HABS-TOWN, and Max is a part of it.

What got you into hockey, more specifically the Habs?
Baseball was my first interest, but you can't grow up a sports fan in Montreal and not have any interest in hockey. As to why I became a Habs fan? Convenience, mostly. They were the local team, their games were on TV, all my friends were fans, it was really that easy. The team wasn't that good the year I first starting following them (1996-97, we lost to Devils in the 1st round in 5. Frankly, I don't know even know how we beat Brodeur once, but I digress...)Sadly, my memories of Patrick Roy are only as a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever? if so, whom, and why?
In the 15 years I've been a fan we haven't had anything close to a superstar player. All-time favourite Hab is Saku Koivu. He was never quite a top centerman but he handled everything thrown in front of him with class and he wore the "C" with pride. In an era in which free agents don't want to come here, I admired the loyalty he showed the team. He's also the most fascinating Hab of lifetime. I've never seen a guy who was both under-appreciated and over-appreciated by his teams' fans.

Where do you like to watch games?
No preference as to where I watch games. I think the great thing about twitter is that you're never watching the game alone. If I'm at friend's or a bar, that's always fun, but if I'm home, I'm always plugged in and get to enjoy the communal aspect of sports fandom.

Do you prefer to watch with guys? with girls? why?
Trick question, I prefer to watch the game with people who understand the game and care about the outcome.

Do you have any pre-game rituals or in game superstitions?

What's the best game you ever went to? what do you remember about it?
Best game I ever went to was a Habs-Leafs game I took my brother to 4 (maybe 5) years ago. It was a pretty spontaneous event. A friend of a friend was selling tickets for that night's game and the plan was to meet him outside La Cage. Of course, he wasn't there, but I didn't want to disappoint my brother (who was 9 or 10 at the time). We found a scalper who was happy to get out of what felt like -20 and I managed to get a pair of centre ice greys for $90 (TOTAL!). The Habs won big and Raycroft got chased (nothing better than a visiting goalie taking the "walk of shame").

Do you have any funny or interesting stories that are somehow related to the Habs?
Well, I was on my way to a friend's house to watch game 5 of the Pens series from a couple years ago, only I never made it. Tripped over something on the sidewalk, flew forward and my wrist landed on one of the beer bottles I was transporting to the festivities (some 500m away from my destination). Had to go to hospital to get stitched up (which is where I watched most of the game). My Cammalleri t-shirt was covered in my own blood and I remember looking at my arm and realizing that I wasn't going to make it to my friend's that night. I was totally sober, although that didn't stop the triage nurse from giving me dirty looks. If it weren't for Halak carrying the team, this whole thing could have been avoided.

What's wrong with the current edition of the Habs?
Their flaws are numerous. I wrote about many of them here. Say what you will about the Bruins, but they play like a team. They stand up for each other and they don't let anyone push them around. The Habs have been fundamentally the same team for the past 15 years. They're undersized, defensive and they can't win without great goaltending.

Management has kept this team in the cycle of mediocrity. They care more about trying to make the playoffs every year than winning a cup. Habs fans tolerate the status quo and cling to the past. I wish more people fully grasped how screwed up this team is right now.

If you were General Manager Pierre Gauthier would you be a buyer or seller at the trade deadline? 
I don't see how this team can be anything but sellers. Right now, they're a long shot to make the playoffs and even if by some fluke they did, I don't see them going anywhere. This team needs to spend a couple years at the bottom and properly rebuild. They need to get bigger and younger, if they can get rid of some of the bad contracts they have, so much the better.

For more from Max Harris, check him out on Twitter: @maxtheguru

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