Sweaters, caps, whistles and flowers


Thursday night in Montreal was the first round of the National Hockey League draft in a packed Bell Center.

Posted at 5:00

A great show that consists of watching 32 beardless guys wearing a sweater and a cap. (Little digression, on the cap: can you drop it? First, it’s hockey, not baseball. Second, we don’t see his eyes anymore, hopefully. We hardly ever saw him already, can we uncover his full face, please. “This doesn’t get star treatment. Brad Pitt doesn’t wear a cap when he picks up his Oscar. He’s not telegenic. Turns out the light. Turns off the aura.” Hood off! You will sell the same! Thank you.)


One of the players chosen by the Canadiens on Thursday, Filip Mesár (center), after receiving his team’s shirt

The show is hosted by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Who is profusely booed. Which is not chic, and which we absolutely shouldn’t do. This is not a way to receive anyone. That said, this behavior is predictable. In all arenas on the circuit, Bettman is booed. How come ? Why is the head. The one who leads. One that imposes. He who triggers the lockouts. The one that says no to Quebec. What he thinks Cash. That’s all work. And it does it very well. But why does he want to animate the repechage? It is not his work. Really not. I know, the NFL honcho does. Good for him. But we are dealing with the charisma that we have. And with the reaction we provoke.

A facilitator is a unifier. Someone who gathers the audience. From Wayne Gretzky to Chantal Machabée, there are dozens of hockey personalities who could take on this task. A hundred times better. Without creating discomfort. Without provoking “cabbage!” as he says thanks to the host city. Bettman doesn’t need to be omnipresent on the scene. To be in all the photos. He already has the power. Do not have to power trip. The ADISQ president does not reward all Felixes. He gives his little speech and is already good in droves.

The Canadian has the first choice. If we rely on the jacket of the chief recruiter, Martin Lapointe, we will not be afraid to surprise. To everyone’s surprise, Kent Hughes sets his sights on Juraj Slafkovský. An exercise in diction and spelling for users of the Tremblay language. We hope he stays with the club longer than Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

This is the third time the Habs have been fishing first, at home. In 1971 he chooses the Guy Lafleur sparkling wine; in 1980, the canceled Doug Wickenheiser. Probably neither of them will be Slafkovský. Will it cause more sparks than cancellations? The future will tell.

He was my number one candidate. From what little I’ve seen him play. A solid player, in body and mind. When he walked the red carpet, the young Juraj was booed. What bullshit! We might want Shane Wright to be the lucky one, but that’s no reason to attack an 18-year-old who is happy to be in Montreal.

There is something unfair about the whistles. For the whistle, of course, and also for the mufflers. They say: people whistled Slafkovský. But it’s not the people, it’s the people. A small band. But since the sound comes from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, the whole crowd becomes guilty.

It happened to me often, at the Bell Center, to feel uncomfortable because an opposing player, often a former CH player, was being booed. How can we dissociate ourselves from this mass movement?

After all, as Bergevin would say, it is just the hundreds of people shouting “man! “, Never thousands who didn’t.

There is only one way to fight the boos: give him a standing ovation. Loud clap. To remain silent is to remain still while someone is being beaten. He will have to remember it next time, rather than sit still.


Juraj Slafkovský receives his jersey during his draft.

Since the incident on the red carpet, Slafkovský has garnered cheers. He also took a walk in the stands of his new amphitheater. Something many Canadian veterans have never experienced.

This is perhaps the beginning of a long love affair between the Slovak and the fan. And during each celebration, we will add an extra slap, to make him forget the false step, or rather the false noise, of our beginnings.

Thirty-two players have heard their name. The others were hoping to hear it in the second round. Many will never feel it. They will have to impose it themselves, like Martin St-Louis.

The draft is like going to a daycare. We choose flowers, plants, shrubs, trees. Carefully. We are sure we have taken the most beautiful. We integrate them into our garden hoping that they grow well, that they bloom and that we are the envy of all the neighbors.

Of the 2022 buds, how many will bloom this season? How much in 2023, 2024, 2025 or never?

I wish the Canadian a garden worthy of a parade.

A few lilies are missing.

We will see…


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