MONTREAL – The United States economy is hurting, and thatâ€™s worrisome.
The U.S. is our major trading partner. An ongoing increase in the misery index may compel our neighbours to do something rash, like electing one of those loopy Republicans their next president.
One positive effect: In the sovereign state of Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney introduced health care before he decided it was an insidious Marxist idea, belt-tightening is probably taking its toll on travel budgets.
And that means the crowd at the Bell Centre on Saturday night will include fewer unlettered oafs in Size XXXL black-and-gold â€œOâ€™Reillyâ€� and â€œStockâ€� jerseys. The paucity of braying Bruins supporters, dropping inhibitions and Rs all over Crescent St., may sap some of the post-game joie de vivre at Hurleyâ€™s.
But I could be wrong in suggesting a link between straitened circumstances and hockey road trips.
A Boston supporter may decide to sacrifice little Jimmyâ€™s math tutoring and electrolysis for the Mrs. in favour of a bus ticket and a seat at the 400 level. With their beloved Bruins defending the Stanley Cup, long-suffering fans wonâ€™t want to miss an opportunity to do some crowing under those 24 Cup banners.
Fans watching the game at home will miss out on the pleasure of proximity to a travelling Bostonian. But Hockey Night in Canada offers an approximation of the feeling: the unholy trinity of Don Cherry, P.J. Stock and Mike Milbury.
Having tasted bitter defeat so often at the hands of the Canadiens, the three Bruins alumni take particular pleasure in the recent reversal of fortunes. If Boston plays well, theyâ€™ll be giggling like schoolgirls on the national television network that is not paid for by the good citizens of New England.
What this country needs is an anti-HNIC Tea Party.
A Hockey Inside/out Comment from HabsFanSince72: â€œIdle question of the day: Can anyone think of anything in the world that has not been sullied, lessened, or cheapened by the Bruins winning the Stanley Cup? Because I canâ€™t.
â€œSay we win the Cup. Doesnâ€™t mean as much â€“ the Bruins won it.
â€œSay the Bruins donâ€™t make the playoffs and Claude Julien is fired. Again â€“ so what? His Bruins won the Cup, and will have done so forever and ever.
â€œThe operas of Mozart? The sunrise from Machu Picchu? The laughter of a child? The unstoppable rise of democracy in the Arab world?
â€œAll exist in a world where Zdeno Chara hoisted the Stanley Cup.â€�
Todayâ€™s Latin phrase: Post hoc ergo propter hoc.
It means â€œafter this, therefore because of this.â€� It is the logical fallacy that chronology implies causation.
Example: Perry Pearn is fired. The Canadiens beat Philadelphia.
So they won because Pearn was not behind the bench, right?
Uh, no. As they say in the car-rental commercials, not exactly.
Sacking Jacques Martinâ€™s longtime buddy could be seen as a shot across the coachâ€™s bow. And it allowed Randy Ladouceur to come down and work behind the bench, giving the Canadiensâ€™ defence corps coaching from someone who played D in the league. The team hasnâ€™t had that since Rick Green was an assistant coach six years ago.
It seemed to work against Philadelphia and Boston. Ladouceur was a vocal, energetic presence at the left end of the bench â€“ in contrast to Pearn, who, like his pal Martin, honed his communication skills at the finishing school run by Madame Tussaud.
â€œEvery coach brings something different,â€� defenceman Josh Gorges was saying Friday. â€œRandy (Ladouceur) is very into the game â€“ always talking, every shift. Heâ€™s critiquing and patting you on the back when you make a good play. Itâ€™s a different approach.â€�
Seems to have paid off. Time on ice was distributed judiciously among six defenceman against the Flyers, and Carey Price described the defensive play in front of him as â€œexcellent.â€�
The Canadiens won again in Boston, so they are 2-0 in the post-Pearn era.
The precise cause of Pearnâ€™s dismissal, however, remains a mystery.
Meeting the media for the first time since the Canadiens golf tournament in September, general manager Pierre Gauthier offered unenlightening corporate bafflegab.
A transcript of his scrum has been translated into Hebrew and is being pored over by a team of Talmudic scholars, who have promised analysis in time for Gauthierâ€™s next news conference.
Job security: As speculation swirled around Martin and Gauthier early in the week, intensifying after the loss to Florida, I got to wondering which job offers less security: coach of the Canadiens or leader of the Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois.
History, at least since 1988, suggests Pauline Marois is doing less tossing and turning than Martin. (Thereâ€™s an image.)
The PQ has had five leaders in 23 years: Jacques Parizeau 1988-96, Lucien Bouchard 1996-2001, Bernard Landry 2001-05, AndrÃ© Boisclair 2005-07 and Marois 2007-the last time we checked.
The Habs? Eight head coaches in 23 years: Pat Burns 1988-92, Jacques Demers 1992-95, Mario Tremblay 1995-97, Alain Vigneault 1997-2000, Michel Therrien 2000-03, Claude Julien 2003-06, Guy Carbonneau 2006-09, Martin 2009-today.
The record suggests neither a PQ leader nor a Canadiens coach ought to get too comfy. And the revolving doors raise a question: Which is closer, sovereignty or a 25th Stanley Cup?