Peter Raaymakers was watching the Montreal Canadiens skate against the Boston Bruins in late November when the Ottawa Senators fan was overcome with a familiar emotion: the ravenous desire to see the Habs defeated.
But instead of just cursing Carey Price under his breath, Raaymakers's girlfriend suggested a more proactive kind of voodoo. "Some sort of incentive to whoever made the Habs lose," he recalled. "It took off from there."
Along with fellow writer Ben Myers, Raaymakers runs a Senators blog called Sens Army that has made the "No Habs No!" campaign its centerpiece issue for the season. The premise is simple: To reward opposing players responsible for costing the Montreal Canadiens points in the standings.
And what is the going rate for a Canadiens' defeat in this economy?
One dollar and a hand-written fan letter.
"Most team websites offer an address they invite fan mail to be sent to, and any player who scores a goal against Montreal -- especially a game-winning goal -- is a fan-favourite in my books," he said.
Each "bounty" will be sent in local currency of the player's team. "Someone in the USA will receive an American dollar [in quarters or a dollar bill]; anyone from Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton will receive a Loonie; anyone from Ottawa will receive a collector's edition Canadian dollar bill; and anyone from the Leafs will receive a Canadian Tire dollar," said Raaymakers. "I considered sending the equivalent of one U.S. dollar in the currency of the scorer's birthplace, but I couldn't get â©1,468 in South Korean won to send to Richard Park."
The money (and Sens Army is seeking donations from Habs-bashers; the tally so far is whopping $5) is only part of the reward -- there's also the inspiring hand-written tribute to the player's valor in defeating Montreal. Like the one sent to Tomas Fleischmann of the Washington Capitals that we're featuring here. Take a look.
Fleischmann had the game-winning goal against the Canadiens in DC on Nov. 28. His feat was honored with the following letter, sent to him via the Capitals:
Truth be told, we were fascinated by this fan bounty campaign. So we peppered Raaymakers with questions that tested the hypothetical limits of "No Habs No!" as well as his own patience. Our Q&A with the Ottawa blogger:
RAAYMAKERS: I never really had a problem with Wade Redden, and I certainly don't have a problem with his departure. I'd probably thank him for (most of) his years of service, and remind him of how devastated all the young Sens fans he'd converted with his Wade's World suite at Scotiabank Place if he ever, ever scored a game-winner against the Ottawa Senators. He'd likely receive the typical $1.00 US in four quarters, and I'd remind him that if the salary for his contract with the Rangers ($6.5M x 6 years) were converted to quarters and laid flat side-by-side, he'd have enough to go from Scotiabank Place to Madison Square Garden and back two-and-a-half times.
Don Brennan ... If you want to read what I think about Brennan's columns, I've got a few recent posts about how much this guy likes to stir up [expletive]. He writes for the Ottawa Sun, and controversy sells newspapers. To hell with any journalistic ethics. I'm not sure what other bounties there are in the city, but I think Stephen Harper is about ready to set one onto Stéphane Dion.
I see you give a shootout game-winning goal the same monetary compensation as a regulation game-winning goal. This is blasphemy from a hockey purist's perspective. Did you give any thought to giving a shootout game-winner, like, 50 cents instead?
I understand that sentiment; after all, a shootout win against the Canadiens only takes one point away from them, while a regulation win takes away two. But a precedent has been set, and I'll continue asking those who score a winner in extra time to do what they can to win it in regulation next time while giving them the same reward. At least they're on the right track.
What about the grander concept of hockey karma; would a bounty like this potentially anger the hockey gods and come back to haunt the Senators?
Perhaps that is worrisome. To be honest, it never really occurred to me; it's not like I'm saying 'shutout' in the middle of a game or anything ... oh, shoot. Sorry Alex Auld. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yeah, after what has gone wrong in the last calendar year, the hockey gods owe Sens fans.
Finally, what would your reaction be if the Habs were to win the Stanley Cup in their 100th season?
If the Habs won the Cup this year, it would be a storybook ending. But I don't like storybooks, I like non-fiction.
In all seriousness, though, Ottawa is so close to Montréal that if the Sens win the Cup, I'm sure someone would bring it to the island so that Habs fans could pretend they won it in their centenary.
Maybe we could start the parade in Montréal. Too soon?