“Montreal Canadiens thrive in a unique and special market”. “The pressure here is much greater than elsewhere.”
These are the generalizations and stereotypes we often hear about Habs. However, the case of the Montreal Canadiens is not unique. Several professional teams operate in unique sports markets. This comparison between the Montreal market and other cities with sports franchises is not new. But a major event in the football world got me thinking about our vision for the Montreal Canadiens and its market. This incident confirmed to me that CH is no different from any other big club on the planet and basically the Montreal market and the National Hockey League market are quite small.
Earlier this week, international soccer star Kylian Mbappé signed a three-year contract extension with club Paris St-Germain, after months of speculation that he would send him to Real Madrid in Spain’s La Liga. A small (big?) shock in the world of football and even the world of sports. Other than Mbappé’s refusal to join Real, what impressed me most was the coverage of the media and the national and international impact of the announcement of his decision.
I came across a special program of the Team on French sports television. As with us, in addition to live-streaming PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s (accompanied by Mbappé) press conference, the team assigned to the report discussed the course of the event as well as talking about the future and future of PSG. Star player. Every word of the team leader was analyzed. We even got a montage of the all-time Qataris calling Mbappé the best player in the world.
We also analyzed the questions of Spanish journalists. Because yes, there were Spanish journalists who wanted to know why the French star was meddling in La Liga. I wondered how we would react at home if a journalist from another market came to the press conference for Carey Price’s contract extension announcement and asked her why she was looking at a chance to play for another big club. Imagine the stage!
Another thing that caught my eye was how similar the topics covered in sports programs were from market to market and from sport to sport. At first, it was like a former coach’s house among the special program’s roundtable members. And not just anyone: Raymond Domenech, the former coach of the French national team.
Speakers then discussed Mbappé’s “political” weight in the club. Already the head coach of PSG, former international star Leonardo has been knocked out. Rumors send a relative from the Mbappe clan to the head of the Parisians. We talked about the diminishing influence of Neymar and Messi. Everyone, especially Neymar, may want to pull the quilt to their side. Commentators also wondered the Qatari owners of the Ligue 1 Champions, what sporting guarantees have they given their jewels to extend his contract?
Speaking of owners, the question that struck me most at the press conference was “why invest in France?” to Al-Khelaifi. came from a Spanish journalist who asked. A thinly veiled way of asking: Why should we invest so much money in a championship lower than the Spanish championship? But what a slap for Ligue 1.
Thanks to this question, I understood the importance of Mbappe’s decision. I also understood why the two Presidents called him to try to influence his decision. well understood. Current French President Emmanuel Macron and former President Nicolas Sarkozy got in touch with the French star. That same evening, Mbappé was also a guest on the 8 p.m. TV news broadcast of France’s most popular television news program, TF1.
It gives you an idea of how big PSG is. How big is football and what a burden the decision to stay with Paris brings. Because what Mbappé carries on his shoulders is the reputation and reputation of an entire league and an entire country, as well as the hopes of the team.
So you’ll understand my shrug when I’m told about the pressure to play hockey for the Montreal Canadiens.