Opinion

Ron MacLean said something awkward. Quebec erupted. Shocked?

Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens' Brian Gionta celebrates after scoring against the New York Rangers during overtime NHL hockey action in Montreal, April 12, 2014. Gionta doesn't want to repeat what happened the last time the Montreal Canadiens opened a playoff series with two wins away from home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
— image credit: Photo for: Habs hope history doesn't repeat against Bolts

Funny thing happened last night.

On the west coast, long after toddlers were tucked in in the land of the Fleur de Lis, Patrick Marleau scored the winner for San Jose, pushing the Los Angeles Kings to the brink, leaving the Sharks a whisker away from a sweep.

After the goal, San Jose’s Joe Pavelski spun around with a big smile on his face, not looking but lunging to hug Marleau. He didn't see Mike Richards standing right behind him, and Pavelski rammed his face into Richards’ chest. Pavelski fell over, comically, and raised his arms for a half-second, as if to say, "Hey, where’s the call, ref?"

But then he remembered… San Jose had won the game. It didn't matter. Get over it, Little Joe. Get over it.

And yet, on the other end of the continent, Habs fans were pummelling Ron MacLean on Twitter, going to bed angry because they always go to bed angry whenever there’s a hockey game on, win or lose.

If they win, well then that's great. Because this is La Belle Province and they deserve to win everything. And if they lose? Well, there’s evil afoot, and you better have all been cheering for us.

Of course, the Habs did win last night, but the ring wasn’t rosy.

MacLean – who suggested earlier on in Hockey Night's broadcast that it was perhaps wrong to put a French-Canadian ref into a tight Game 4, especially after a controversial Game 3 – got the wrath on Twitter, with tirades of 140 characters or less flying at him and his apparently racist tone.

Now, I've been on Ron MacLean before.

I'm not really a fan, and I stopped being a fan for the same reason I assume a bunch of Quebecers just stopped being fans – I don’t care for his opinions.

I think he's an excellent host, but I think he's a little full of himself. And when he editorializes, all I hear is him loving his own voice.

Except last night. Maybe I come from the wrong part of Canada, so I would never understand. I’m not old enough to remember the FLQ Crisis or Robert Bourassa… although, I'm pretty sure most of the offended from Montreal aren’t either.

Problem was, MacLean didn't say anything. He’s pretty poor at saying anything directly, so the way he tripped over his words and arrogantly spat them out was easy to misconstrue, and I imagine it left more French-Canadians (or all Canadians) saying, "Wait, what?" (He mumbled and fumbled his apology, too.)

But really, MacLean only assumed the Lightning would be upset about it, that maybe out there, someone in Florida would think, "Oh, those damn Frenchies, they’re not giving us any calls."

Sorry to break it to you, Montreal, but the rest of us sort of think the same thing. Maybe it's not fair, maybe it’s not accurate. But when we're losing, it just seems obvious.

Same goes when we watch the Raptors play the Brooklyn Nets or the Miami Heat, when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James get every call just because they were great once, and then Toronto guard Kyle Lowry leaves with cuts and bruises, unrecognized because he hasn’t hosted an ESPYs yet.

Montreal, you need to get over it… all of it. And then we’ll do the same.

Why do the rest of us have to pander to a fan base just because it's proud to speak another language, especially when that fan base has celebrated more Stanley Cups than any of ours?

How come we're not the victim here, the rest of us Cup-ignored nobodies, with one or none?

What do you think the ever-tortured Winnipeg market thinks of your whining, Montreal? They don’t have the history or the hardware. For 15 years, they didn’t even have a team. You know how much they'd love to have Ron MacLean slander their postseason wins right now? At least it would mean they're winning.

And what if the rest of us just flat-out don’t like the Canadiens? Are you going to throw a hissy fit? Are you going to do to the rest of us what Green Bay Packers fans and Boston Celtics fans do to the rest of us, giving us that look like we just couldn’t possibly despise such a loved franchise, ending the conversation before it starts? How Roman Catholic of you, by the way.

And, of course it's just shameful to assume a ref would be biased because he's French-Canadian.

The only thing worse than that would be violently booing the American national anthem.

Oh, right…

(What about when the Habs hired a non-French-speaking coach, and the fans erupted, and the team had to apologize as if they really did anything wrong? "I'm sorry if we upset people," then-GM Pierre Gauthier said at the time. "Because that certainly wasn't our intention." So, were Habs fans screaming discrimination then? Were they flipping their lid on behalf of the other side, maybe even turning down the stove when the coach, Randy Cunneyworth, was let go? No, of course not. And their captain is an American, right? Well, it's okay now because they're winning with him. Shared ignorance has a lot of advantages, doesn't it?)

Montreal, you won the game. You got what you wanted.

Let it go, and let Ron MacLean unintentionally insult another team like he used to.

We'll take it right now.

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