Sure, Boston has the reputation as America’s most racist city north of the Mason-Dixon line. Boston Celtic great Bill Russell in his autobiography “Second Wind” wrote, “Boston itself was a flea market of racism. It had all varieties. ….Other than that, I liked the city.’ It would also be foolish to say even twenty percent of the population is wired that way. Bit, it only takes a few hundred bigots to tar an entire city’s reputation, and they managed to do it again Thursday night. And things were not helped by the fact that this is an encore performance. Only two years ago Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward was subjected to nearly identical racial bile after he scored the Game Seven overtime winning goal against the Bruins.
A cautionary note: Montrealers would be advised not to throw stones at Boston from inside their glass houses. They should never be allowed to forget the fan who threw a banana at Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Kevin Weekes during a playoff game twelve years ago at what was then known as the Molson Centre. It embarrassed the Canadiens, the league and rightly so, the city of Montreal.
As for Subban, he’s been dealing with this stuff, either overtly or worse, in more subtle ways since he was old enough to walk. He’ll move on. I do wonder how the Bruins’ Jarome Iginla or P.K.’s younger brother Malcolm who is playing goal for Boston’s Providence farm team, is viewing all of this.
There is an important side issue in this affair however. The role of the Bruins players, management and their cheerleading media in creating an atmosphere in which the lunatic fringe can thrive. All of them have been casually throwing the word “hate” into almost every conversation. Boston head coach Claude Julien “hates the Canadiens.” Milan Lucic “hates the Canadiens”. The newspapers pump up the fan base with the liberal use of the word. How much more encouragement would a bigot need after Boston Herald reporter Stephen Harris seriously writes about “the despicably villainous P.K. Subban”?
Extreme fan behaviour is not only promoted but actually applauded and encouraged. A Montreal fan, male or female, who dares to wear a Canadiens jersey in Boston is tempting not only serious bullying but often physical confrontation. This comes, not from that miniscule racist group that hit the social media after Game One, but a significant portion of the pumped up Bruins fan base which is armed by media references to the Canadiens as, not only despicable and villainous but sneaky, diving, cheating, whining, chicken to name just a few well chosen slurs .
Any wonder the bigots feel free to take their best shot.