Debunking the “Living in the Past” Narrative

“History is not everything, but it is a starting point. History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is a compass they use to find themselves on the map of human geography. It tells them where they are but, more importantly, what they must be.” ~ John Henrik Clarke

With his most recent comments, not only did Max Domi give a serious slap to Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans, but he opened a can of worms. As seen in the following video, Domi justified his saying that the Canadiens’ fans are the best in the NHL by mentioning the 24 Stanley Cups they have won, by far the most in the long history of the league. Coming from the son of Leafs’ fan favourite Tie Domi, a kid who is from Toronto and grew up following the Leafs, it is bound to hurt some people’s feelings.

Fans of other teams, who cannot debate this because they know that it’s a fact, often revert to the only thing they can come up with, by saying that Habs’ fans “live in the past”. Can we really blame them? Unable to deny it, that it’s the only argument they can hang their hats on.

But in doing so, they forget that the past starts the moment you think about it, after each breath that you take. See, you just read this and it’s already in the past. Even the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup win is in the past. So come to think of it, mentioning anything prior to this actual moment is living in the past.

History

Because they can’t match the Stanley Cup argument, those hockey fans tend to forget, or at the very least downplay the importance of history. That’s right. Whether we’re talking about hockey or any other topic, history is what defines what we live today.

Canada is rich in history. Christopher Columbus got lost and discovered America. The battle of the Plains of Abraham has defined our country. Our Premiers and Prime Ministers have all defined our history in their own way. The CP rail and CN rail were a huge part of Canadian history, helping to tie the West to the East. Does mentioning any historical event also considered “living in the past”?

Carey Price is the Canadiens’ career leader in wins.

NHL forwards have Wayne Gretzky to chase for records. Defensemen are still trying to match what Bobby Orr has accomplished in his shorten career. Martin Brodeur‘s 691 wins is the benchmark for NHL goaltenders to beat. For NHL teams, the 24 Stanley Cups is the benchmark, something that every single franchise would love to surpass. True that the Canadiens have been around for over 110 years but never forget that there are five other teams currently in the league who have also been part of the original NHL and that includes… the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So Habs’ fans, continue to be proud of the Canadiens’ rich history. Remember that whenever some other NHL fan brings in the weak argument that we’re “living in the past”, it’s because they’re jealous of the team’s rich history and truthfully, they have no other ways to insult the NHL’s most popular franchise worldwide. Afterall, some of them started using that excuse back in… 1994. Go Habs Go!

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All-Time Habs-Leafs Roster

Original six. Red versus blue. French versus English. Quebec versus Ontario. City of Montreal versus City of Toronto. The team with most Stanley Cups versus the team with the second most. The two biggest fan bases in the National Hockey League, possibly in the world. One of the biggest and longest rivalries in North American pro-sports’ history: The Montreal Canadiens versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. Frank Mahovlich versus Frank Mahovlich. Wait… what?!?

Oh yes, the “Big M” did suit up for both teams, but he’s not alone. Just recently, seeing Tie Domi wearing a Habs’ jersey is something that no one would ever find possible, even less see it happening… at least not until his son Max Domi left the Arizona desert to join one of the league’s true hot beds, in Montreal. And yes, at the displeasure of most Leafs’ fans, Tie did just that. He recently stepped on the Bell Centre’s ice in Montreal wearing not only his son’s number 13 Habs’ jersey, but he was dressed up in full Habs’ gear. And guess what? He was having fun!

Seeing this gave me an idea. Several players, over the years, have worn both the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs’ jersey in their career. So I decided to dig a little bit deeper, do some research to see which players had to change allegiance, playing for the team that they used to hate. And if you talk to Tomas Plekanec, it’s not something that’s easy to do. Even Josh Gorges, when asked to waive his no-trade clause to go to the Leafs, refused to do so, prefering to accept a trade to the Buffalo Sabres instead!

Since anyone can put together a list without much thought, I have chosen to create a roster with a line-up. Those are all players who have worn both the Red-White-Blue and the White-Blue at some point in their career. For this exercise, you will notice that I had to move a few centres to the wing but they were, in my opinion, better than those whom I have cut. Without further ado, here’s your Maple Habs All-Star team:

Shayne Corson – Frank Mahovlich – Gary Leeman
Lucien Deblois – Vincent Damphousse – Russ Courtnall
Darcy Tucker – Doug Gilmour – Mikhail Grabovski
Yanic Perreault – Kirk Muller – Tomas Plekanec

Rob Ramage – Dickie Moore
Mathieu Schneider – Tom Kurvers
Hal Gill – Gaston Gingras

Jacques Plante
George Hainsworth

Granted, some of them joined the other team while towards the end of their career but I looked at the names at their peak, not at the time of wearing one jersey or the other. And finally, the other players to wear both uniforms:

Rick WamsleyMike KomisarekCesare ManiagoCharlie Sands
Sergei BerezinMichel LarocqueMarc ReaumeErwin Chamberlain
Ric NattressRobert PicardDick GambleRobert Heron
Sylvain LefebvreDan DaoustNoel PriceGordie Drillon
Paul DipietroJeff BrubakerBill SutherlandRhys Thomson
Scott ThorntonSerge BoisvertLarry HillmanPaul Bibeault
Jonas HoglundBill KitchenLarry MickeyVictor Lynn
Gerald DiduckLarry LandonGarry MonahanBob Dawes
Dave MansonBill RootWayne ThomasJohn McCormack
Darryl ShannonCraig LaughlinGeorge PattersonPaul Masnick
Jyrki LummeGilles ThibaudeauBert McCaffreyGary Edmunson
Chad KilgerEddie LitzenbergerLorne ChabotRoger Jenkins
Mariusz Czerkawski

While the Boston Bruins have certainly sneaked their way in as a huge rival to both these teams, there’s no denying that the Canadiens and Maple Leafs rivalry is still alive and well and with both teams starting to get competitive at the same time, it won’t take much to reignite a fire that’s been smoltering below surface for too long.

And last but not least, I leave you with this classic story from Roch Carrier. No, can you imagine a playoffs’ series between the two teams? It would be insane! Go Habs Go!