For a Montreal hockey fan, a perfect season includes beating the Boston Bruins in a seven-game playoff series – and seeing the Maple Leafs not qualify for the post-season.
This year, we won't have the satisfaction of beating our preferred historic rival. But witnessing the meltdown of the NHL's richest franchise in Canada's most arrogant city fortunately remains as a source of fascination and pure joy.
When three men were charged under the "Trespass to Property Act" for having tossed their Maple Leafs jersey onto the ice of the Air Canada Center in January, a new level of comedy was reached.
So, just to be clear, does the law forbid you from ever dropping your Maple Leafs jersey in Ontario? That, most certainly, would explain why so many in the province continue to wear the blue and white, even when the team hasn't managed to reach the playoffs nine times in the last 10 years – they're just law-abiding citizens!
Some will argue that you can toss your jersey, but not on the ice during a game. But what about hats on the ice? Don't they allow hat-throwing when a player scores three times? What is that, if not a clear violation of the Trespass to Property Act?
Freedom to toss apparel should not just be the domain of the happy. The disgruntled, humiliated and oppressed fan should also be protected under the Charter of Rights.
How a team so rich can be so consistently bad for so long is beyond understanding. Is it the nefarious impact of Don Cherry on the team philosophy? Who knows.
For a Montrealer, a much more mysterious observation, though, is the passiveness of the crowd. They cheer for a bunch of losers year after year, they come back to fill the arena, and they happily pay a big price to do so. This is not something I laugh at: There is something beautiful, almost tragic to this. Acceptance, forgiveness and love forever seems to be their philosophy.
Then a few dare. Ooooh! Jersey tossing! Enough violence, it has to stop, bring the police, send a strong message to the barbarians at the gates!
Don't you understand, Torontonians? These people acted in despair to be banned from the Air Canada Center for one year – just like the compulsive gambler begs to be banned from the Casino. These fans are acting out to seek detox.
If the Canadiens were out of the playoffs nine times in 10 years, no jerseys would not be tossed; no law is needed to protect such a sacred piece of clothing. No, there would be riots, and mayor Denis Coderre would get involved,so long as it didn't interrupt his tweeting about his favourite topic – the Canadiens!
Too many springtimes in Montreal without the Canadiens in the playoffs could easily become a matter of public health, if not of public security.
Fortunately, the Habs are in this year again. So, for a few weeks we will talk less about austerity, budget cuts, radicalization and pot holes. The level of crime will drop in the city. People of all origins will unite for a common cause. A shot of natural antidepressant has been injected to Montrealers.
How can Toronto live so well without it? Whatever the answer, let us be thankful for not being there again and again and mostly, for yet another exceptional year of entertainment, for us at the other end of the 401.