I have been dismayed by the defeatist, rationalizing excuses some of my favourite posters have been making to fans who are annoyed by the Sens losing at home & the building being taken over by Hab & Leafs fans. Principle number one in team sports is that you do not lose on your home turf; and if you do, the winner leaves the building battered in body & spirit, and the their fans go quietly. We are having a great and unexpected year, but this is a major flaw due to : brand, leadership, stars & fans.
The Habs & the Leafs have the brand due to winning the Cup & national exposure. When we get national television exposure for a home game, we seem to play poorly & the fans are quiet. It is hard to build a brand when there are 3 networks in Toronto vying to be the Toronto (Maple Leafs) Sports Network. The Habs & Leafs fans are young & boisterous; but as far as Cups go, they are cheering for their father's team (Habs) or their great-great grandfather's team (Leafs). Brand awareness will come when the players are proud to put on that sweater, win at home for the fans, & go to the Cup again. If that happens, then our rival fans will switch their jerseys.
If Alfie was the man who lead us to the finals with clutch goals & hits, we would have no leadership issues. The stars are not providing consistent leadership and the supporting cast has gone soft; i.e, where is snarly Smith. Leadership comes from stars who get it going when the going gets tough (where have you heard that before) and character players who can catch you & drive you through the boards. In the later case, we are 2 forwards & 2 defencemen short. I am not one who wants to pass Alfie's crown on to Spezza as I see a player who plays well when he feels like it & lets himself get pushed around due to a lack of character & mental toughness. I love Eric, but he is still too immature ; e.g., when your team is losing to an arch rival, do not be silly by mocking Gonchar for fighting.
It is hard to get behind a brand when the team lacks dramatic stars throughout the line-up who make plays that lift you up off your feet to cheer whenever you go to a game. We have 4 stars who are exciting to watch but only one who is consistently good and that is Eric. If I was the coaching staff, I have my doubts about the leadership, stars & character players as we limp along to the play-offs while our rivals raise their game. If the prospects prove themselves, I can see a lot of turn-over because this is a coaching staff that hates to lose, especially at home I'm sure.
We know from the play-off run that the fans can get behind the team & turn the building into a fun house. But shame on us. Do we have to lose the team like Winnipeg did to have their fans & the Jets home record. That "Crosby is better" chant for Ovie is a classic. I went to 4 games this year & we lost them all, two by football scores; I admit it was hard to get up and cheer when the team was not putting in an effort. But the dozen of Habs fans surrounding me came from Mattawa for the game. We should get out more.
That is my rant. Here's hoping we make it to the second round and all will be forgotten.