If owning the Montreal Canadiens is a sacred public trust as well as a private business endeavor – and history strongly suggests that it’s both – then the current ownership needs to send a signal that it recognizes and shares fan frustration over the early season malaise afflicting hockey’s most fabled franchise.
The Molsons were never hands-on owners during the dynasty years of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, but with the Hall of Fame likes of Frank Selke, Dick Irvin Sr., Sam Pollock and Scotty Bowman managing and coaching the team during those three glorious decades, it was easy and even advisable for the owners to stay out of the way and enjoy the ride. Incumbent Canadiens president and CEO Geoff Molson doesn’t have that luxury, and if it hasn’t arrived already, the time will soon be here for action at the highest level.
I’m not saying Molson has to be like Jerry Jones or the late George Steinbrenner and meddle to the point of being a liability, but Jones and Steinbrenner at least understood the championship legacies they inherited when they bought the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees, respectively.
How he does it is his call, but Molson owes it to the franchise and its fans to publicly demonstrate that mediocrity will not be tolerated under his watch. Any lesser course of action can only be interpreted as a sign that the Montreal Canadiens are no longer an iconic institution committed to representing their community with pride, honour and excellence as much as they are just another impersonal 21st century corporation run by suits who couldn’t care less about the quality of the product as long as they’re making bonus.